Toward the end of the meeting Portsmouth City Solicitor Mike Jones took the opportunity to compliment Portsmouth City Development Director Jennifer Hanlon for her work to assemble a list of projects to be offered as a part of Portsmouth’s request for funds from President Barack Obama’s proposed stimulus package.
Jones also talked about meeting with Brown’s community liaison director Monday. Then Jones said, “One of the things that came up with this particular individual, specifically, this issue was brought up — and it was a new municipal building,” Jones said. “They’re very interested in funding a municipal building potentially for the city of Portsmouth. And I think it is an opportunity that we need to take full advantage of. I think we need to ask for one. The worst case scenario is they say no. But I think that is something we need to discuss.”
Jones talked about the city potentially getting another shot at the Marting’s Foundation money offered in November of 2008 should the City Center/Justice Center Project have passed.
“I’ve also taken the initiative to talk with a representative from the Marting’s Foundation, and they are also very, I believe, receptive to the idea of working with the city in terms of that $1.4 million and trying to possibly coordinate with that through this package if we are fortunate enough to see that money.”
Jones said this is a “great opportunity” for the city of Portsmouth to take advantage of the funds that are available.
After the meeting, candidate for mayor, Jane Murray said she had talked with Brown’s office and his representative and had not gotten the idea they are interested in helping Portsmouth obtain a city building.
“With all the problems we have, like the sewer problem, they’re not going to get involved in getting a city building,” Murray said.
Earlier in the meeting Murray had reminded council of the list of projects she had given them at the Dec. 22 legislative session she believes should be asked for in the stimulus fund request.
Murray also mentioned receiving information Monday the city was preparing a list of projects and asked when that list would be available for review.
Hanlon said Monday she had been involved in at least two lists.
“The Ohio EPA in particular wanted two lists of projects. They wanted projects that would be shovel-ready, meaning ready to go to construction by July. So for that list we do have some of the paving. We’ve got a water project, and hopefully if council untables Rick’s (Duncan) wastewater project.”
Hanlon said Ohio EPA also wanted projects that would be shovel-ready by next January, which means the city would have this year to get the engineering done.
“So we sort of have a ‘to go now’ list, and then what we could have ready next January,” Hanlon said.
Hanlon made a copy of her list of projects available to the Portsmouth Daily Times and at a glance requests include projects from the Wastewater treatment plant, Water Works, street paving, alley paving, bridge replacements, curb and sidewalk replacement, fire station upgrades, two new fire engines and four dump trucks, all projects to be ready in July. For construction projects to be ready as of January 2010, Hanlon listed a skate park, Branch Rickey Stadium facelift, work on Spartan Stadium, and storm sewer replacement.
Teresa Mollette again brought up what she called a “lack of a plan by the city,” and then weighed into an item on Monday’s conference session agenda - namely the 2009 budget proposal.
“This operating budget should have been to Council on November 15, 2008,” Mollette said. “November 15, 2008. This was not received for it to be discussed in Council until February 9, 2009. According to the charter it states — ‘The operating budget will be to Council by November 15, 2008’. This is what I call a lack of a plan.”
The operating budget proposal shows estimated revenues at $12,254,300 and estimated expenses of $12,054,179, leaving a balance of $200,121.
The $200,000 surplus again led Councilman Bob Mollette to ask why an increase in the city income tax is needed.
By a 4-2 vote Council passed the ordinance to place the six-tenths of one percent increase in income tax on the May 2009 primary ballot.
Council passed three other items including an item tabled at the last meeting authorizing the Mayor to enter into an agreement with Environmental Engineering Service for engineering services.
Frank Lewis may be reached at (740) 353-3101 Ext. 232.