Officials: Wait, see on cleanup

City officials said they want to see what happens with a second housing inspector in place before considering the expense of a curbside citywide cleanup.

But they also said they may look into hosting another drop-off event where residents can make some effort to get rid of their junk.

The topic was discussed extensively during city council’s Finance Committee meeting Thursday night, one day after former city councilwoman Mary Lou Popa pleaded with council about the need for a citywide cleanup where residents can set stuff out to be picked up.

The last time the city had a cleanup in 2006, the cost was $11,855. When the Carroll-Columbiana-Harrison Solid Waste District hosted the recent large furniture, electronics and appliances drop-off event for the city and Perry Township, it ended up costing the city $300 for an additional dumpster after splitting the cost with the township. The waste district paid most of the cost of the drop-off event.

Committee Chairman Councilman K. Bret Apple said he had mixed emotions about the idea of a cleanup, saying he takes care of his own trash and large items. His concern was if they do it once, people will expect them to do it every year. He said a lot of the areas where problems occur involve rentals and now that they have a second housing inspector, maybe some of that can be handled.

Councilman Dave Nestic, another committee member, said he would like to see something done and thought it would be nice to have it done annually, but he didn’t realize how much it would cost.

Mayor John Berlin pointed out that the cost quoted was from 2006 and the total cost would depend on the number of loads. He said the cost would be indeterminable because they wouldn’t know the number of truck loads until it occurs. He said he would like to at least wait a year with the second inspector in place. He also said they’re looking at the fines to help subsidize the cost of the second inspector.

City Auditor Betty Brothers suggested having another drop-off event, noting the success of the one planned by the waste district.

Apple said he would prefer to “look at what a second inspector can do to alleviate this rather than just having people get rid of their clutter.”

He said if it’s to make the city look more appealing, he’s all for that, but if it’s to help people get rid of stuff, that’s something different.

Council President Mickey Cope Weaver, who attended the meeting, said the city needs the cleanup. She said it’s a great “disservice to the town to have couches and junk on porches” and said some people don’t have a way of transporting large items or places where they can get rid of stuff. If the city had kept up with the cleanups, the expense probably would be less. She also liked Brothers’ idea to hold a drop-off event, saying she’s against the idea of doing nothing.

“Is it a matter where they don’t have an outlet for it or are we dealing with a character issue?” committee member Councilman Brian Whitehill said.

He said most trash companies will take one large item a month and that’s 12 in a year. He said they should just have a picker weekend where people can set their stuff out and other people can pick through it and take what they want.

“Some people live in filth. They’re going to whether there’s a cleanup or not,” he said.

Councilman Jeff Cushman, who attended the meeting, said there’s a limit to everything and with a low 1 percent income tax and low water and sewer rates, the citizens receive a lot. He liked the idea of a drop-off event.

Whitehill said maybe some service groups could help out with transportation for people who would have a hard time getting items to a drop-off event, or maybe a business would be interested in stepping forward.

With a drop-off event, the city could get some cash for some scrap items to help defray the cost. The committee asked the mayor to have city Service/Safety Director Ken Kenst check on costs of holding another drop-off event.

In other business, city Fire Chief Jeff Hughes spoke to committee members regarding a leasing program he was told about for fire trucks where the city could possibly put on down payment and pay so much by the month, quarter or year for a new truck.

He had applied for a grant last year for a new ladder truck, but the application was denied. His application for an equipment grant was also turned down recently.

“I still have a truck I need to get replaced in the near future,” he said.

He said a new ladder truck would cost anywhere from $800,000 to $1 million. The current truck is 23 years old with a ladder that reaches 75 feet. A new truck could have a reach of 100 feet, which he said is needed with some of the taller buildings in the city. He also said they’re starting to have repair issues with the current truck.

Berlin asked if he had any idea of the value of the current truck and Hughes said one salesman told him they might be lucky to get $7,000 out of it.

The committee suggested he meet with city Auditor Betty Brothers to go over the leasing program and see what their options may be.

The committee asked city Income Tax Administrator Fred Pamer to complete an analysis of how the Ohio Municipal League’s suggestions for income tax uniformity would affect the city besides how proposed legislation for uniformity would affect the city if approved.

Pamer explained that H.B. 5 wants to take away the local control and have decisions made at the state level. He also said there are special interests involved, with businesses pushing for the new legislation that could cost the city some income. He estimated just the one provision alone regarding a net operating loss carry forward of five years could cost the city $250,000 to $300,000 per year in tax receipts. The city relies heavily on income tax receipts for operations.

Pamer said other cities are passing resolutions against H.B. 5 and gave the committee samples of resolutions from other cities. Apple said they’ll probably want to pass a resolution, but they wanted more information before taking that step.

A request by Berlin to have $300,000 moved from carryover to capital improvements for the streets program was tabled for now.

Mary Ann Greier can be reached at