WELLSBURG - Wellsburg City Council on Tuesday moved to change the makeup of its park and recreation committee to council members only and adopt changes to its leash ordinance, including penalties for those who feed feral cats.
Council voted by a 5-2 vote to change the committee from a 10-member panel of citizens chaired by one council member to one comprised of five council members.
Voting in favor were 2nd Ward Councilmen Paul T. Billiard and Ron Michaux, 3rd Ward Councilman Tom R. Diserio, 4th Ward Councilman Jeff Tarr and 1st Ward Councilman Bruce Hunter. Opposing were 4th Ward Councilwoman Della Serevicz and 3rd Ward Councilman Randy Fletcher.
Billiard, who had chaired the committee, said a lack of a quorum prevented the committee from meeting in recent months and he believes that was because the group felt its recommendations had fallen on deaf ears with council.
Diserio, who served on the committee as a resident, said he often was frustrated by the lack of attendance.
Tarr, who once chaired the group, said council needed to be more involved for it to be effective.
"This gives it the importance it needs by being a committee of council," he said.
Serevicz said the committee should include some residents not on council.
Carla Davis, a resident who served on the committee, agreed, saying she was offended by the restructuring. She said she and others petitioned successfully for new playground equipment for the 4th Ward Park.
Billiard, who proposed the move, said he didn't intend to alienate residents. He said he wants to hear from residents and wants to bring about such improvements as a basketball court for the 4th Ward Park and restoring the park that once existed on White Bell Circle.
Michaux told Davis, "We still want you to be involved. We still want you to be here to give your opinion."
In other business, council approved an amendment to the city's leash ordinance, which prohibits dog and cat owners from allowing their pets to roam free.
The changes include raising fees charged for delivering a stray dog or cat to the animal shelter, serving or posting notice to the owner and housing and feeding the animal to $100 each, up from $25.
It also prohibits anyone from feeding feral cats. In recent months council has received complaints that a resident has encouraged feral cats to congregate in an area by feeding them.
Referred a proposal to raise pay for city officials back to the city's finance committee. The committee suggested raising pay for the mayor, collector-treasurer, city council members and city clerk but didn't specify the amount for the collector-treasurer.
It was noted the police chief's pay was raised in 2009.
Heard from resident Kevin Maloney, who thanked council for allowing his son Matt to shoot a music video at Central Park on Sept. 29. Maloney said about 68 teens were on hand, and the filming went smoothly.
He said he would try to alert council of the release for the video, which features Charleston area band band Byzantine performing their song, "Soul Eraser."
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