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Blight, bridge, budget on council docket

Marietta City Council has passed a blueprint budget for 2021, tabled the ordinance considering renaming Washington Street Bridge and referred back to committee the discussion of blight personnel.

City legislators met solely via video conference this week to conduct city business after announcing cases of coronavirus within the city administration.

This left the public to solely interact via social media with the legislators during the regular business meeting and bear witness to legislative discourse, action and disagreement. The same option will be utilized next week with council committee discussions on Tuesday and Wednesday.

BLIGHT

Council has referred back to committee the discussion of blight and deliverable actions for two considered positions within either city structure or by contract.

Ordinance 145 saw its second reading Thursday, proposing a step schedule for a part-time position of code enforcement official, a non-law enforcement position in a singular department answering to the city safety-service director.

But debate over proposed amendments by Councilwoman Cassidi Shoaf reducing proposed pay in each step by $1 per hour and a contingent amendment proposed by Councilwoman Susan Boyer aiming to require “substantial progress” on at least two blighted properties in 2021 led to the rescinding of both proposed amendments and referral back to Employee Relations Committee on Tuesday for additional debate.

That committee meeting is scheduled to begin at 5:30 p.m. and will be held only virtually.

BRIDGE

After the receipt of eight letters against and two in favor of the renaming of the Washington Street Bridge to honor the late Andy Thompson, a former state legislator who died this year, council approved the tabling of Resolution 63 by Shoaf.

The bridge, according to the Ohio Department of Transportation’s numerous funding profiles and projects concerning the bridge since it was built in 1953, presently bears the name Washington Street Bridge, as an ode to the first U.S. president and the surveyor of Marietta.

Councilman Bill Gossett was the only voting legislator who opposed the motion to table by Shoaf.

BUDGET

The 21-page blueprint provides a framework for fiscal priority in the coming year for the city.

“This document … is a blueprint only for next year,” described Finance Chairman Mike Scales. “We have been in this pandemic, our income and our revenue is kind of crazy right now and we don’t know what it’s going to look like in January.”

Ordinance 147 was introduced, with second and third readings suspended, and unanimously passed Thursday.

Scales noted that the budget should be revisited by the legislative body by February of next year.

Other business

¯ Council also considered legislation concerning the closure of fiscal year 2020 for the city, including pay-outs for retirements this year.

¯ The legislators considered

¯ In old business:

¯ Ordinance 143 was amended to change the supervisory roles of the two advanced information technology positions over the new position created at the close of November.

On its third reading, with the unanimous support of the amendment, the ordinance passed.

¯ Ordinance 148: current appropriations in 2020; unanimous suspension of the second and third readings; adopted.

¯ Ordinance 149: put in place for use by the city $443,204.45, suspensions and adoption also unanimously adopted.

No current plan exists for the eligible expenditure of these federal CARES Act (coronavirus stimulus) funds, though HVAC systems for city buildings are on the docket for discussion in Lands, Buildings and Parks Committee Tuesday at 4 p.m.

The following ordinances

¯ Ordinance 150-152: concerning changes to salary step schedules for the utilities administrator and both wastewater and water superintendents, first reading complete.

¯ Resolution 62: concerning a proposed health insurance coverage agreement for non-union city employees with the Michigan Conference of Teamsters Welfare Fund, first reading complete.

Council next meets in regular business on Dec. 17 at 7:30 p.m., but has four committee meetings scheduled on Tuesday and Wednesday to be conducted solely virtually.

Janelle Patterson may be reached at jpatterson@mariettatimes.com.

How to participate:

¯ To view: Follow the Marietta, Ohio city Facebook page for notifications when meetings on Dec. 8 and 9 are broadcast live.

¯ To attend: Email an attendance request to join the Zoom call for discussion to Jennifer Starkey, council clerk: jstarkey@mariettaoh.net

¯ Tuesday’s schedule:

¯ Joint committee between Finance; Lands, Buildings and Parks; and Streets: 4 p.m.

¯ Joint committee between Water and Sewer, Streets: 4:30 p.m.

¯ Employee Relations Committee: 5:30 p.m.

¯ Wednesday: Planning, Zoning, Annexation and Housing Committee is scheduled to meet beginning at 5:30 p.m.

¯ NOTE: All four meetings will be held by teleconference only, with no in-person attendance available due to coronavirus.

Source: Jennifer Starkey, council clerk.

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