Council passes salt buy, split safety payment

WEIRTON – City Council on Monday voted to enter into a contract for the purchase of road de-icing salt and to amend the police and fire service fee to be split into two payments beginning next year.

Council voted 5-2 to approve a resolution entering into contract with Central Salt for the purchase of road de-icing salt for $96.47 per ton, nearly twice the amount it cost last year.

Ward 3 Councilman Fred Marsh and Ward 4 Councilman George Ash Sr. voted against the contract, citing the fact that only two bids were returned. Marsh said that contrary to his comments at the last finance committee meeting, some bidding should actually begin later rather than sooner.

“Two companies told me that they are not prepared to bid until the end of the month. I’m not going to pay $96.47 for salt. We need to be getting this information from the companies we buy from,” he added.

An ordinance to amend the police and fire service fee passed by a 6-1 vote, with Ash voting against it. The amendment was proposed by Marsh and will split next year’s police and fire service fee into two equal payments instead of one. It will take effect July 1, officials said.

“This ordinance only deals with the payment, not the rate,” Marsh clarified.

City Finance Director Tom Maher noted workshop discussions will need to be held to discuss the shifting of expenses within the budget to accommodate for the change.

He repeated several times this amendment will take effect in July. It will not affect the current fiscal year.

Dan Greathouse, executive director of the Top of West Virginia Convention and Visitors Bureau, addressed City Council to thank them for cooperation during the summer concert series.

“I appreciate the benefit and the help you’ve been to us with the Event Center. I’ve never had any complaints about anything. There’s no one drinking on the spot. There have been no altercations. The police have been there every week watching over us, and as you know, the crowds just keep growing and growing. It’s been great for the city and great for the CVB, so I thank you for everything you’ve done,” Greathouse said.

Mayor George Kondik welcomed Ward 1 Councilman Bill Zanieski, chair of the city’s human rights commission, to his first City Council meeting.

Kondik reported that Means and Weirton Police Chief Bruce Marshall accompanied him to a Home Rule Board meeting earlier Monday in Wheeling.

“The feedback we got on our presentation was positive. Three out of the five committee members commended me on it. We feel very strongly about it, and it was very well received,” Kondik said.

Ward 6 Councilman David Dalrymple commented on an agenda item set to go before the city’s zoning board at its next meeting, which will be held at noon on Aug. 19 in council chambers at the Municipal Building.

A facility being planned for American Way, near Kwik King and Weirton Medical Center, was described as a future “crisis detox center” for addiction treatment that will offer 12 beds, Dalrymple said.

Rod Rosnick, chief code official, said the application stated the facility would be classified a “group home,” but the state’s definitions and classifications do not match up to the city’s Unified Development Ordinance definitions.

Officials at the next zoning board meeting will vote on how to classify the facility, which will determine whether it will be permitted and whether additional security restrictions will be applicable.

“I think citizens should be aware that there is a possibility of this happening and that it is being discussed. If anyone has questions or concerns regarding the placement of the facility, the next zoning board meeting is the place to voice those and get your feelings on the record,” Dalrymple noted.

An ordinance adopting the recommendations of the Weirton Planning Commission regarding the zoning map classification of a certain parcel located on Greenbrier Road had been tabled at the May 12, June 9 and July 7 regular meetings, and it remains tabled.

Marsh explained communication problems between officials and the property owner have held up the process.

He asked for the ordinance to remain tabled and added it would be removed in September if it still cannot be addressed at that time.

Three ordinances and one resolution that were tabled at the June 9 and July 7 regular meetings relating to budget scenarios were tabled again Monday. Those included two ordinances to amend the police and fire service fee, an ordinance to amend the municipal service fee and a resolution to authorize the city manager to begin the process of enacting a 5 percent cable franchise fee.

“I just want to keep all of these on the table until we start seeing how the B and O tax is collected. I want to come back and address these, but in the event that the tax is challenged and we are faced with financial difficulties, I’d like to keep all of these options open,” Ward 7 Councilman Terry Weigel said.

The newly activated categories of the business and occupation tax went into effect Aug. 1.

Invoices will be mailed in early September and payments for the first quarter will be due by Oct. 31.

Quarterly payments after that will be ongoing, according Maher.

Two ordinances to amend the text of the UDO based on recommendations from the city manager and the city’s planning commission received their second readings and passed by unanimous votes.

One of those amendments will make automotive repair businesses legal in the C3 district. This would affect all of downtown, according to Rosnick.

Council also voted unanimously to appoint Kyle Wilson of West Street, Dawn Young of Orchard Street and Scott Douglas of Williams Drive to the city’s human rights commission.

Rik Rekowski, director of the Mary H. Weir Public Library, informed City Council the library will host a Wizard of Oz marionette show at 3 p.m. on Aug. 21 and it will be open to the public.

Rekowski will be attending a “What’s Next West Virginia” workshop this week in Buckhannon to discuss local economies in the state, and Pat Ford of the Business Development Corp. has been working with him to bring the initiative closer to the Northern Panhandle.

Rekowski said the Family Resource Network has been having discussions at the library regarding the drug problem and overdoses in the region. Officials and members of law enforcement from nine communities attended the last meeting, and he invited the public to attend the next one at 6 p.m. on Sept. 9.

He also introduced Julie Botnick, the library’s new Volunteer in Service to America from Americorps.

Botnick will be working with local communities on grant writing in particular.