Salem adding second housing inspector

SALEM – A second part-time housing inspector will begin work Monday in the city of Salem, giving the department more coverage and giving the current inspector some help with the workload.

City Service/Safety Director Ken Kenst announced the rehiring of Roy Brown for up to 28 hours per week. Brown had been laid off a few years ago and since then Dan Rice has been trying to do all the work himself.

Kenst said both inspectors will work up to 28 hours per week, or seven hours per day for four days, with the schedule making it possible for coverage for five days a week in the office.

The announcement was made not long after former city councilwoman Mary Lou Popa addressed council Wednesday night, again requesting a citywide cleanup and help for housing inspector Rice. She’s spoken about both issues multiple times and said “I haven’t gone away and I’m not going away.”

Kenst said the money to pay for the second housing inspector will come from the general fund. He said the administration determined funds would be available to cover the cost with the tax receipts up over last year’s total at this time of year.

“It’s always been a priority,” he said.

As for the cleanup, Popa noted that surrounding towns have had cleanups and she questioned why the city was dragging its feet on this. The last time the city had a cleanup in 2006, it cost the city $11,855. When the Carroll-Columbiana-Harrison Solid Waste District hosted the recent large furniture, electronics and appliances drive for the city and Perry Township, it ended up costing the city $300 for an additional dumpster. The waste district paid most of the cost of the drop-off event.

The citywide cleanup will be one of several topics discussed tonight at 6:30 when the Finance Committee of City Council meets in council chambers. Other items on the agenda included grant issues or alternate methods of payment for fire department vehicles; centralization of taxes and the effect on city income tax collection; final discussion on what to do with the $1.3 million shale gas lease money; discussion of a 2.5 percent wage lump sum payment previously tabled; discussion of street foreman wage increase; discussion of revision of fringe benefits ordinance and the portion regarding earning and use of sick leave by part-time employees; discussion of new ordinances for increase to police and fire pensions starting with the first pay in July; and discussion regarding a change in the increase to OPERS for union employees effective the first pay in July vs. the first of July with recommended changes to the existing ordinance.

In another cleanup matter, Mayor John Berlin thanked all the boy scouts, community groups, school groups, city workers and individuals who participated in a recent downtown cleanup sponsored by the Salem Area Chamber of Commerce Beautification Committee. The same day, another group of people cleaned graffiti from buildings.

“The city appreciates these efforts,” he said.

Kenst announced an opportunity for residents to clean out tires from their properties with a free tire collection set from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Friday in the municipal lot off of Lundy and Pershing across from Timberlanes. No rims will be accepted, just passenger and pickup truck tires.

Parks Director Steve Faber announced a second plant exchange day set from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday at the maintenance building at Waterworth Memorial Park (near the duck pond parking lot).

In other business, council approved an ordinance for the purchase of a new police cruiser for $32,000 from Donnell Ford paid for through capital improvement funds and authorized Kenst to advertise for bids for the sale of a used 1998 Ford Crown Victoria police cruiser, a used 2008 Ford Crown Victoria police cruiser and a used 2007 Ford Explorer that had been used by the police department.

Council also approved a resolution commending Sue Laughlin for her dedicated service to the city as wage and benefits coordinator in the city Auditor’s Office from Dec. 28, 1998 to May 3 this year. Laughlin left for another job.

Mary Ann Greier can be reached at