City awards MSP $150,000

By Frank Lewis

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Main Street Portsmouth will be able to plan ahead a little further thanks to action taken by Portsmouth City Council who passed an ordinance Monday night to give that organization $50,000 a year for each of the next three years, totaling $150,000.

The meeting began with comments from Austin Leedom of Portsmouth during the segment of statements on items on the agenda in which he made references to the ordinance being changed, calling it “deceptive.” However, no member of city council said they knew of any changes in the ordinance from its original wording.

“If there has been a change it has not been brought to me,” City Clerk Diana Ratliff said.

“Did you change it (City Solicitor) John (Haas)?” City Manager Derek Allen asked. “I didn’t ask for it to be changed because my understanding is nothing is different than the day it was submitted to conference agenda.”

That brought out a tongue-in-cheek comment from Mayor Jim Kalb.

“I just wanted to make sure you guys didn’t amend it while I wasn’t looking,” Kalb said.

Sixth Ward Councilman Jeff Kleha said he had asked if the ordinance memorialized what action had been taken in the past and had been told that it did.

“I’ve participated in and I used to be on the board of Main Street Portsmouth,” First Ward Councilman Kevin W. Johnson said. “I have seen no other organization in a long time that has so benefited the downtown anywhere.”

Allen said the relationship is at the center of community development activities.

“I want to reiterate that, in combination with Jason Kester at the (Southern Ohio) Port Authority and working with Sarah Surina at Main Street Portsmouth – those two entities – along with the city is what is going to move all the redevelopment of our downtown along,” Allen said. “This is a critical thing to be passed so that they (MSP) know that they have funding secured and we’ll be working in partnership over the next few years. I think it’s a wonderful thing.”

Kalb said it is an honor for the city to have Main Street designation.

“I think council has asked for and I think we have all received the financial reports of Main Street,” Kalb said. “They have explained where the money goes. It’s all on paper and I think this is a wise ordinance to pass.”

The vote was taken and the ordinance passed 5-0. Third Ward Councilman Kevin E. Johnson was absent because his son had undergone surgery Monday.

Reach Frank Lewis at 740-353-3101, ext. 1928, or on Twitter @franklewis.