EAST LIVERPOOL - Despite opposition from one resident, City Council Monday night voted to hire a Utah consulting firm in an attempt to create economic prosperity for the city.
Cadmus Street resident Robert Richmond addressed council prior to the vote, asking where the city is coming up with the $10,000 in next year's budget for hiring Better City LLC, saying, "We don't have this money but we just spend, spend, spend."
Service-Safety Director Ryan Estell explained that $25,000 of the up-front fee for the Ogden, Utah firm was raised through private donations and that he and other officials have discussed the "appropriate amount the city needed to afford to try and improve our city."
The $10,000 will come from the city's general fund, according to Auditor Kim Woomer, who praised council for its proactive step of hiring the firm, saying, "Doing anything for progress is better than doing nothing at all."
Estell said Better City will be paid like any other labor consultant hired by the city, a set rate per hour as set down in the ordinance approved last night. Both parties have the right to cancel the contract with 90 days notice.
One of the consulting firm's priorities, according to Councilman Ryan Stovall, who serves as economic development committee chairman, is landlord issues such as fees and incentives for "good" landlords.
Councilman Ray Perorazio voiced his concern that the city currently has no housing inspector when one is needed.
Estell pointed out that this firm will help the city find money to pay for such a position, when currently no money exists. He said Ogden, Utah had the "same scarce resources" when it started its economic turn-around under Better City's founder Matthew Godfrey, when he was mayor.
The vote for hiring the firm was unanimous.
Richmond also complained about legislation before council to appropriate $11,000 to capital improvements toward lease of a cruiser for the K-9 dog, saying he had seen seven or eight cruisers in the lot and passed two enroute to the council meeting.
"Why do we need to buy another cruiser for the dog? One of those (existing) cruisers can be changed for that dog. We're going to spend money we don't have," Richmond complained.
Stovall pointed out backed up by Woomer that the city has not spent a dime on the K-9 program, with the cost of the canine, training for it and the handler, equipment and the cruiser all coming from donations from the public and from fund-raisers sponsored by the East Liverpool Patrolmen's Association.
"They've raised all that money themselves. People come here and speak without doing their homework," Stovall admonished.
Woomer agreed, commending the association and the Fraternal Order of Police for raising the money for the K-9 program, saying, "It took a lot of effort and they did it."