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Finance committee advances 3 requests

City council moved forward three requests for legislation Monday including authorization to appropriate a $1.154 million loan for upgrades to the water treatment plant.

The plant’s design upgrades have been discussed at length for more than four years as the aging treatment system sitting above Marietta Memorial Hospital continues to face higher costs of repairs.

The low-interest loan is through the Ohio Water Development Authority and will send the funds through a newly created account for the plant’s upgrade.

And along with that upgrade, Finance Chairman Mike Scales asked Monday if council peers would approve the purchase of adjoining property to the plant.

“This would allow us to use money from the water fund to purchase the blighted property,” said Scales.

The two tax parcels, located at 113 Cityview Ave., lie adjacent to the water plant and are

needed, according to Project Manager Eric Lambert, to access a current landslip at the plant.

Code Enforcement Official Wayne Rinehart reported to council that the owner of the blighted property is deceased and the property is one of eight which did not sell at the county’s delinquent tax sales in November and December.

The additional properties within city limits which did not sell include:

¯ 205 Cedar St.

¯ 765 Buckeye Ave.

¯ 901-903 Jahn St.

¯ 115 Grove Ave.

¯ 304 Market St.

¯ 313 Van Bergen St.

¯ 119 Gilman Ave.

The current estimate to cover foreclosure and court costs of all eight properties is $11,723- a price anticipated to rise with each additional motion filing but not expected to breach $15,000.

“I’m in favor of buying all of them,” said Third Ward Councilman Bill Gossett, who said he drove through each street in his ward over the weekend.

Fourth Ward Councilman Geoff Schenkel also spoke in favor of the collective purchase, allowing the Market and Gilman properties to be place in the hands of the city and removing some locations for drug activity from the Harmar neighborhood.

Scales requested legislation could cover up to $15,000 in purchasing all eight properties.

Council also discussed in executive session the reorganization of the mayor’s office, ultimately moving for legislation to create the human resources/assistant safety-service director position and a budget and procurement director.

Steve Wetz is expected to be officially appointed to safety-service director next week, at a $67,000 salary, followed by the appointment of Jeff Skinner as the human resources/assistant safety-service director at a $58,000 salary. Bill Dauber’s title is expected to change from assistant safety-service director and he will keep his 2019 salary of $68,000.

Scales said the three positions are funded by percentage: 60 percent from the city general fund, 20 percent from the city water enterprise fund and 20 percent from the city sewer enterprise fund.

Council also discussed the structure of city budget expense reports and statement of cash positions concluding 2019.

The legislative body next meets today at 4 p.m. in the second floor conference room of 304 Putnam St., to discuss a requested exception to the city annexation rule for water and sewer service.

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