STEUBENVILLE - City Council members agreed Tuesday night to invite Jefferson County Port Authority Chairman Jay Zatta to a future economic development committee meeting, but did not agree to provide funding for the authority.
The port authority officially requested funding from Steubenville and the Jefferson County commissioners during its Oct. 2 meeting.
Commissioner Thomas Graham immediately told the port authority board members he was willing "to fund as much as $50,000 for seed money."
City Manager Cathy Davison asked council members to consider giving city-owned property included in the South End Strategic Plan to the port authority for future sale or development as the city's support for the fledgling organization.
"If the port authority could attract a business or company to one of the city-owned properties, we would then deed that property to the port authority. A caveat would be job retention language to include a requirement for the creation of a certain number of jobs for a specific period of time. We can't give them cash but donation of the property would allow the authority to create a revenue stream," explained Davison.
But several council members balked at the proposal.
"I don't believe we should give any property away. We have to start worrying about Steubenville.
"We are looking at a financial shortfall in 2013. Hopefully the city can make some cash from the lots in the South End development area," said 2nd Ward Councilman Rick Perkins
"We need to be a city that is customer friendly. If a business wants to bring a business into the city, maybe we could give them the property as an incentive. We helped create the port authority. But I don't think they are ready for this step yet," noted Councilman at large Kenny Perkins.
Mayor Domenick Mucci said the port authority "is trying to identify themselves."
"The port authority and Progress Alliance will have to work out how they will work together. The authority is working on its mission statement. They need to work on their operating budget," Mucci said.
Sixth Ward Councilman David Lalich suggested port authority funding could come from the county piggyback tax collection.
"Everyone should be asked to help fund the port authority. If the county funds the port authority with the piggyback tax that way every community in the county is contributing to the authority. The piggyback tax comes from sales throughout the county," said Lalich.
Third Ward Councilman Greg Metcalf called for a meeting with representatives from the port authority.
"We helped create the port authority. We need to sit down and have a meeting with everyone involved and see how different communities can help. It would behoove us to sit down with the port authority and discuss this. I would like to see the port authority and Progress Alliance working hand in hand together," said Metcalf.
During a brief council sunshine meeting, Lalich introduced a resolution supporting the Jefferson County Joint Vocational School's 1-mill levy on the Nov. 6 ballot.
JVS Treasurer Karen Spoonemore appealed to council last week for formal support of the levy.
"Our purpose at JVS is to produce taxpayers. We have lost a half million dollars in state budget cuts. But we want to continue to prepare our kids to go out from our school into a job or to college. We need your support and vote for our levy," Spoonemore said at the Oct. 9 regular council meeting.
And Davison reminded city residents that Mucci will provide a state of the city address at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday in the lecture hall at Eastern Gateway Community College.
"Following that address we will hold the regular City Council meeting at 7:30 in the lecture hall," said Davison.
(Gossett can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.)