Commissioners hopeful towards pipeline placement

EAST LIVERPOOL — It wasn’t millions, but officials expressed pleasure this week that the city ended 2017 with a healthy balance in the general fund.

Reporting to city council’s finance committee, Auditor Marilyn Bosco shared the news that the city realized an ending balance of $235,000 in December, a far cry from years when the balance was closer to zero.

“I was pleased,” Bosco told the committee.

“It sounds a lot better than what we usually have,” committee member Ray Perorazio agreed.

Committee member Brian Kerr pointed out the balance doesn’t reflect the fact that the first payroll of 2018 had to be paid, and Bosco agreed, saying, “It’s gone.”

She said after the meeting that the ending balance was actually closer to $300,000 at $299,890, but that there were also $64,888 in pending purchase orders that had to be paid, resulting in the final tally.

An ordinance to appropriate carryover encumbrances and add them to 2018’s appropriations was approved for council’s consideration. The ordinance listed total encumbrances of $966,169.

In other matters, the committee was asked by Service-Safety Director Brian Allen to consider recommending to council a change in title and a salary increase for the secretarial position in his office, currently held by Christina Francis.

He recommended changing the title to “manager,” which he said more accurately describes the additional responsibilities that have been assigned Francis since she took over the position in March when the former secretary left.

Allen provided a lengthy list of duties performed by Francis, including taking on traffic cam and Springhill Cemetery record keeping and coordination issues; coordinating the newly implemented bulk trash service for customers; taking on insurance issues, which resulted in a $7,000 savings to the city; and more.

He also said she is willing and ready to learn the duties of managing the mayor’s office to make for a smooth transition upon the retirement of the current manager, when that occurs.

Francis currently earns $11 per hour, and the ordinance would set the salary at $14.89 per hour, to be paid half from the general fund and half from the garbage fund. The former secretary was earning $13.79 when she left, and Allen said the increase would bring the position up to what water department clerks are earning.

Allen called Francis a “Godsend” for his office, and committee members also expressed their satisfaction with Francis’ work, with Chairman Fred Rayl calling her “an asset to the city.”

The committee forwarded the legislation to council for its consideration.

Other legislation forwarded to council for consideration included an ordinance authorizing Planning Director Bill Cowan to execute the agreement with the Ohio Department of Transportation for replacement of street lighting along the freeway between East End and the cloverleaf on West Eighth Street.

The project is expected to go out for bid in early 2019 and will include some guardrail replacement, with Cowan telling the committee it is hoped to repair the pipe bridge as part of the project.

Council will also be asked to consider an ordinance that Cowan said has been renewed every two years for quite some time which authorizes the city to enter into an economic development revolving loan fund with the state.

He said this provides money for loans that can be requested under CDBG guidelines, such as for small business. The loans are separate from the business loans available through the Community Improvement Corporation, Cowan emphasized, and Bosco said there is currently $20,273 available.

At the request of Utilities Director Tim Clark, the committee also forwarded to council an ordinance authorizing the board of control to advertise for bids for meters, chemicals and supplies for the water and wastewater departments.

Clark said he expects contracts to be awarded in March if council approves this annual legislation.

Council will meet at 6 p.m. Tuesday instead of Monday due to the Martin Luther King holiday. A finance committee meeting will be held at 5 p.m., followed by a streets committee meeting at 5:15 p.m. prior to the regular meeting.