Wellsburg approves street paving

WELLSBURG – Wellsburg Council on Tuesday approved the re-pavement of several sections of Charles Street and changes to ordinances for the collection of delinquent taxes and building permits.

Council agreed to hire Lash Paving Inc. of Martins Ferry, Ohio to pave Charles Street from Sixth to 11th streets and 12th to 18th streets, the intersection of 26th and Charles streets and the alley between 10th and 11th streets at a cost of $91,175.

City Manager Mark Henne said First National Bank, which is adjacent to the alley, has been approached about contributing $7,750 to the alley’s pavement because it owns part of it.

Henne said limited funds led city officials to focus on pavement of Charles Street, a major artery in the city, as opposed to other city streets.

Council also approved amendments to ordinances in the city’s business and taxation code and building and housing code.

City Solicitor Bill Cipriani said the business and taxation code was changed to shift the task of collecting delinquent business and occupation taxes from individuals appointed by the collector-treasurer to the city manager.

Cipriani said the measures used to pursue the delinquent taxes won’t change.

Henne said various actions may be taken by the city, from placing a lien on their property to arranging a formal payment plan.

He said the amount of B&O tax owed isn’t higher than usual but the need to collect what is owed is vital at a time when the city, like many municipalities, is dealing with a tight budget.

Third Ward Councilman Tom R. Diserio asked why the city doesn’t publish the names of those that owe taxes, as is done by the Brooke County Sheriff’s Department.

Cipriani said it’s not been the city’s policy because bringing attention to businesses that haven’t paid their taxes often discourages customers, resulting in less revenue for the city.

He said one change to the building and housing code is holding both property owner and contractor responsible for securing required building permits and requiring permits for the demolition of structures.

Building permit fees charged by the city range from $5 for work costing $99 or less to 1 percent of those that cost $100,000 or more.

Cipriani said the new measures help to ensure contractors working in the city are licensed and bonded.

He said new language in the code also clarifies what work requires a permit in response to questions raised by residents.

For example, the ordinance states a homeowner painting the interior of his home isn’t required to obtain a permit but is required to obtain one when hiring a contractor, though no fee is involved.

Another change to the code allows a building inspector to enter a privately owned structure in the event of an emergency. Otherwise, the building inspector must get permission from the owner or a court-issued search warrant.

In other business, council:

Received a letter from Jack Yost, a resident of Pleasant Avenue, who asked the city to paint the street curbs in front of and behind his house to indicate they are no parking zones and address safety concerns there.

Henne said the curb along Pleasant Avenue may be painted but the state Division of Highways has advised the city not to paint curbs along Commerce Street (state Route 2), which is on the other side of Yost’s house.

Council approved the appointment, by Mayor Sue Simonetti, of newly elected 2nd Ward Councilman Brian Tennant as chairman of the city’s planning commission and of residents Carol Churchman, Bill Garvey and Kirk Kazienko to the board and of newly elected 4th Ward Councilman Charles Harris to the city property, community services and ordinance committees.

Also approved were the appointments of incumbent council members Della Serevicz (4th Ward), Bruce Hunter (1st Ward), Mike Mitchell (1st Ward) and Paul T. Billiard (2nd Ward) to the finance committee; Diserio, Randy Fletcher (3rd Ward), Billiard and Mitchell to the city property committee; Billiard, Serevicz, Diserio, Mitchell and Tennant to the park and recreation committee; Diserio, Hunter, Serevicz, Fletcher and Mitchell to the community services committee; and Hunter, Billiard, Diserio and Fletcher to the ordinance committee.

Billiard, Simonetti and others expressed appreciation to the Wellsburg 4th of July Committee for organizing many free events around Independence Day and city crews for their work in setting up and cleaning up after the activities.

(Scott can be contacted at wscott@heraldstaronline.com)