MCC creates part-time clerk for blight

Marietta City Council authorized the creation of a part-time clerk in the fight against blight Thursday, with the caveat that the adoption was a “baby step.”

“I am not willing to commit the city to spending money on another city employee without knowing if any of the issues that we are experiencing in the department would be solved by adding this position. And that justification has not occurred,” said the chairwoman of the Employee Relations Committee, Council Member Cassidi Shoaf.

Shoaf’s fellow committee and council members Susan Boyer and Bill Farnsworth brought the ordinance forward at the close of 2020 and Thursday hosted the third reading of Ordinance 165 creating a part-time clerk position within the city’s code enforcement office, now named property maintenance office.

Council Member Bill Gossett, who also spent much of his first year in office critical of the progress of the city’s fight against blight, spoke concerning the step Thursday both before and during the meeting.

“I will be voting in support of this tonight, not because I think it’s the greatest thing to do,” said Gossett. “This is a baby step. It’s in the right direction, but as overall, for code enforcement, if we’re going to be serious we really need to take the bold step.”

In advance of the meeting, he previewed that he will begin work with the city law director next week on reinstating the lapsed fine structure for property maintenance code enforcement and on changing the job description of the part-time enforcement official to require more action than just response to citizen complaints.

“It’s kind of the same situation as if, for instance, the parking enforcement officer [gets called by] the police department and they say there’s somebody parked in a space down there [at Parking Partners]. Go, right? Because it’s a $50 fine to park in someone’s spot,” Gossett described. “So as he leaves the police station, he’s walking down the street, and he walks past and sees a guy parked in front of a fire hydrant, he writes that ticket, and he writes the one in my parking space as well. I think that code enforcement needs to be done in that manner.”

Gossett theorized, with a carry-forward balance of more than $2 million this year, that the city could attempt additional experimentation of either expanding the present code enforcement position to two part-time positions in the field, in addition to the new clerk position in the office, or making the current field position full-time.

But first, he said, his focus next week will be on the lapsed fine schedule.

Gossett also noted that henceforth, the press will not be barred from teleconference access to participate in meetings which he chairs.

“I want it to be known that moving forward from here, that in my committee meetings, I want the press to be present via Zoom in order for there to be transparency with the public,” said Gossett. “I think the idea of banning the press from being able to be in the Zoom meetings, looks terrible in the eye of the public.”

The ordinance to create the clerk position passed 6-1, with Shoaf against.

All other legislation considered Thursday, outside of Ordinance 170, was adopted by council during the meeting.

Concerning a re-appropriation of federal Community Development Block Grant funds, Ordinance 170, all council members agreed that they would need clarification and detail by the presence of the new development administrator, Daniel Everson, and City Auditor Sherri Hess, next week in committee before consideration for adoption via vote.

Also concerning the federal grant program were Resolutions 73 and 74.

¯ Resolution 73: Though Councilman Mike Scales said this was concerning the Start Westward Monument, legislative documents show otherwise.

Per the resolution and its associated exhibit, the legislators codified a subrecipient agreement with the city for use of federal funds to aid in renovations of the Anchorage out of federal fiscal year 2020 funds.

That agreement had stalled between 2019 and summer of 2020 until officials representing both the city and the nonprofit met under the organization of Lower West Side resident CJ Smith at George Street in September.

¯ Resolution 74 authorized the city’s application for state Transportation Alternatives Program funds for the Start Westward Monument and surrounding East Muskingum Park.

Council also unanimously passed Ordinance 165, redistributing the city’s transient guest tax (known colloquially as bed tax or hotel-motel tax) to include the Southeastern Ohio Port Authority and Marietta Main Street, without confirming expected deliverables which was left unfinished in committee in 2020.

Marietta City Council is next scheduled to meet Wednesday in joint committee via teleconference.

The legislative body also has a special business meeting scheduled for Jan. 28 at 7:30 p.m.

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


Today's breaking news and more in your inbox

I'm interested in (please check all that apply)


Starting at $4.39/week.

Subscribe Today