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Water rate opposition heard

City enters into contract with new manager, names Villamagna to council seat

December 4, 2013
By SHAE DALRYMPLE - Staff writer (sdalrymple@heraldstaronline.com) , The Herald-Star

STEUBENVILLE - City Council on Tuesday voted to pass an emergency ordinance, introduced by 3rd Ward Councilman Greg Metcalf, to enter into a three-year contract with Timothy Boland to serve as the new city manager.

Boland, a graduate of Miami of Ohio University, served as town administrator in Pataskala for seven years. He was the economic development director in Delaware County from 1999 to 2007, and before that he was the planning and zoning administrator for Perrysburg and Powell, Ohio.

"He has been very successful in Pataskala. The community of approximately 15,000 is one of the fastest growing cities in Ohio," Metcalf noted in a previous interview.

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INTERESTED CITIZENS — Council chambers were packed Tuesday night during the City Council meeting. Many in attendance came out to oppose the proposed water rate increase, and others were there to support the early appointment of Bob Villamagna to replace former 6th Ward Councilman David Lalich, who retired a month early on Nov. 30. - Shea Dalrymple

Boland accepted council's offer of $90,000 a year to take the city manager's job that has been vacant since former City Manager Cathy Davison resigned in May. He is set to begin his new duties on Jan. 6.

First Ward Councilman Gerald "Yonk" DiLoreto was the only member of council to vote against the ordinance.

"I feel that we had an original applicant who had outstanding experience and success at the federal and state levels of government. However, due to the fact that he lacks 10 years of experience as a city manager, as outlined in our charter, he was eliminated in the first group," DiLoreto said. "As a former high school principal, I have seen our outstanding graduates move on to college and have success as professionals elsewhere. If and when these types of individuals return to our home, we should have the flexibility to consider them for leadership positions here."

DiLoreto added that despite his frustrations with the process of finding a city manager, he intends to support Boland "110 percent."

Council also heard the second reading of a proposed ordinance that will mean a $6.50 per month water rate increase for all city water customers. City water customers are charged for a minimum 2,000 gallons of water a month. Customers will be charged an additional $1.30 for every additional 1,000 gallons of water under the plan. Several people voiced concerns at the meeting regarding the increase.

William Watson of State Street was the first to speak to City Council in open opposition of the rate hike.

"Senior citizens with a limited amount of money are forced to pay while you have a great number of people who are delinquent," Watson said. "I believe that before you come to us, you need to get your house in order."

Several more citizens echoed his sentiment.

"I think all citizens should be treated fairly," Maddie Patterson of Sixth Avenue said. "Why is my water bill so much higher than my friends who live in all these other areas? And we do not have any leaks, so don't tell me that."

Mike Johnson of Steubenville came forward to suggest the city adopt legislation making property owners responsible for their water bills, which is the policy in many other Ohio cities.

"If the homeowner is liable, once the bill becomes delinquent, that account is shut off, and they can no longer rent that place until that water bill is paid," he said. "That's just one more way we can cut down on the delinquencies."

There will be an open meeting and presentation at 6 p.m. Tuesday to address details of the ordinance and the concerns of citizens. Representatives from the collection office and Neptune, the company that supplies meter readers to Steubenville, Michael Wigal of the water department and Chuck Murphy, assistant superintendent of the wastewater department, will be some of the people on hand to answer questions and explain the reasoning behind the proposed water rate increase. Collection of delinquent bills is a major topic slated for the meeting. If approved at the third reading on the Dec. 17 regular council meeting, the rate hike will go into effect early next year.

In other business, Metcalf made a motion for Bob Villamagna to take a position on City Council early in order to replace former 6th Ward Councilman David Lalich who retired one month early on Nov. 30. The council voted and passed the ordinance unanimously.

Villamagna had been selected to succeed Lalich in the Nov. 5 election.

"I think that good things are coming to the city of Steubenville with the hiring of the new city manager, and I look forward to working with everyone involved with the city," Villamagna said. "I'm very honored to have friends like the ones I have in this room who came down to support me."

Fourth Ward Councilwoman Angela Suggs informed everyone present that Froehlich's Classic Corner restaurant will host a Breakfast with Santa for area children at 9 a.m. Saturday. Pre-registration is required, and 118 children have been signed up so far. She also reminded citizens of the holiday lighting contest being held from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Dec. 15.

 
 

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