Council OKs new taxi rules

City Council approved new requirements for taxicab business operators and their drivers Tuesday night, including giving the police department power to inspect taxicabs and adding transit vehicles to the rules.

Council voted 6-0 to approve the second and third readings of the revamped ordinance. Some of the new rules include making drivers register as subcontractors for a fee of $50 and requiring the display of door signs, rate schedules and licenses.

Police Chief J.T. Panezott favored the new rules for inspections to ensure the safety of the vehicles and the passengers.

Prior to the vote, Councilman Clyde Brown noted that during the Rules & Ordinances Committee meeting when the taxicab ordinance was discussed, he suggested that taxicab businesses be required to have offices in commercial districts, but his idea was shot down.

During the committee meeting, it had been pointed out by Chairman Councilman Rick Drummond that taxis operate all over the city, not just in commercial zones, with clients picked up or dropped off at their homes in most cases.

In other business, city Auditor Betty Brothers advised council that the city received a rebate check of $74,842 from the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation, which was distributed to departments based on what percentage of the premium each department paid last year. The general fund received $50,892 or 68 percent, with $1,497 or 2 percent going to the city health district, $3,742 or 5 percent going to the city parks department and $18,710 or 25 percent going to the utilities department.

The board of the Ohio BWC had authorized a one-time payout of $1 billion statewide for private employers and public taxing districts, with Salem receiving an amount representing 56 percent of last year’s premium, which was $133,645.

She also reported the $30,000 from a grant for a new police cruiser was received from the Ohio Department of Public Safety.

Council also approved the second reading on the addition of a paragraph to the ordinances dealing with M1 light industrial and M2 heavy industrial zones which would prohibit auto wrecking lots, scrap yards or junk yards in the city.

The paragraph to be added reads: “No lot or premises may be used for auto wrecking, scrap yard or junk yard which would include, but not be limited to, the collection, sorting or processing of scrap or salvage material or for the storage of such material or for the extraction of gravel,sand or other raw material.”

Council approved a resolution adopting the tax budget for the city for the fiscal year beginning in January to submit to the Columbiana County Auditor’s Office. No one attended or made comment during a public hearing on the tax budget prior to the council meeting.

Former city councilwoman Mary Lou Popa addressed council and said she’s still pressing for a citywide cleanup and asked if the issue was falling on deaf ears, whether anyone was checking on alternatives and whether it was a dead issue for this council. She thanked Brown and Council President Mickey Cope Weaver for their support.

Council voted to suspend their second meeting in August, so there will be no council meeting on Aug. 20. The next council meeting will be held at 7 p.m. Aug. 6.

Other meetings announced included: Traffic & Safety Committee, 5:30 p.m. July 30, council chambers, city hall; Finance Committee, 6:30 p.m. July 30, council chambers, city hall; and Second Ward meeting, with other residents invited, 6 p.m. July 22, at Kelley Park on Prospect Street.