By Frank Lewis
Portsmouth City Council will look at several items with wide-ranging effects when it meets Monday night. Portsmouth City Manager Derek Allen will bring up several things for discussion including a hiring freeze.
In the City Manager’s report under the title “Personnel,” Allen says - “Given the situation with the proposed 2014 budget, I am considering a hiring freeze on non-safety personnel. The city of Portsmouth Charter requires that I maintain 88 safety (44 police and 44 fire) personnel. Many other employees are covered by elected officials over which I have no control.”
Allen told Council recently that the city is in worse financial shape than originally thought and gave Council a “bare bones,” Budget to look at. Allen has repeatedly said his main focus is on determining what the city’s financial situation is and to solve the problem of the deficit budget to get the city out of its current financial watch status. He said he is also determined to give the city a five-year plan to set it on a path to recovery.
Allen will also tell City Council that the job to take over the hauling and disposing of refuse service has been put out to bid. Allen took the action after Rumpke purchased Pike Sanitation, with which the city had a contract for that service, and raised the cost to the city from $264,750 to $600,000 the first year, $637,500 the second year and $675,000 the third year. Allen said the city is not in financial condition to afford the increase and advertised for bids to take over that service.Allen said there will be a bid opening on Tuesday (March 25) at 3:30 p.m. in his office.
Allen said he has requested a list of all fire hydrants that are out of service and the reason for their being out of service. He said the city will begin to work diligently to place those hydrants back into service as quickly as possible.
Three items are on the City Manager’s Conference Agenda as well. One is the establishment of Security Fund 208. Previous to the 2014 budget the Municipal Court Security was in the General Fund. The city contributes $104,000 and the balance of approximately $47,218 comes from Municipal Court. In the 2014 budget court security was moved to a new fund, Municipal Court Security Fund 208.
As a part of that legislation, the subject of community offenders contributions made in lieu of community service, will come up. In an ordinance passed in October of 2013, Council determined that if Municipal Court imposes a term of community service, the offender may, after pronouncement of sentence, request that the Court modify the sentence to authorize the offender to make a reasonable contribution to the General Fund of the funding authority in lieu of community service and sets that contribution at $10 per hour.
Allen will bring forth legislation that will specify that those contributions be deposited in that 208 account.
A second item on the Conference agenda is considering the prohibition of the use of engine brakes or Jake brakes in the city limits.
The third is a Public Records Policy.
Frank Lewis can be reached at 740-353-3101, Ext. 252, or on Twitter @FrankLewispdt.