Council moves on opiate suit

By Nikki Blankenship - [email protected]

Portsmouth City Council met in regular session Monday night when they unanimously voted to pass a resolution authorizing the City to pursue a lawsuit against wholesale distributors of opioid pain medications, distributors who helped to pump pills into a community that has since struggled with a resulting opioid epidemic. The City joins with the County who is also filing a similar lawsuit. The lawsuits claim the distributors did not do their duty in reporting distribution trends to the federal government. Like the County, the City will be working with the Law Firms of Lancione & Lancione, LLC and Greene, Ketchum, Farrell, Bailey and Tweel, LLC on a contingent fee basis. Councilmen Tom Lowe and Kevin W. Johnson were absent from the meeting; however, they expressed through support of the resolution through prior communications with other Council members.

Also during legislative session, Council voted to pass an ordinance authorizing the City Manager to have improvements made to the tennis courts at Mound Park. The Mound Park Pickle Ball League made a contribution of $20,000 to the project. The City’s contribution was $30,000 for a total project cost of $50,000 to be appropriated from the Capital Improvement Fund.

Council also passed legislation for an action already in effect, an ordinance approving and ratifying the recently negotiated collective bargaining agreement between the City and Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) Lodge 33 for the period of January 1, 2017 to Dec. 31, 2019. Similarly, Council gave a first reading to an ordinance which will authorize the bargaining agreement between the City and American Federal of State, County and Municipal Employees (ASFCME) 1039 and has been requested to be passed as an emergency.

Before going into the City Manager’s Conference, Council gave a second reading to an ordinance accepting $8,550 from a 2016 Fire Department Training Grant Award and appropriating the funds into the Fire Department Training budget.

During the City Manager’s Conference, City Manager Derek Allen presented several items showing development in the City including the vacating of an alley.

“An agent working for Speedway has been in communication with the City of Portsmouth concerning plans to replace and expand their store located at 2401 Gallia Street,” Allen reported. “Speedway has a contract to purchase four parcels on Kendall Ave. for this expansion.”

The alleyway under consideration is between two of the parcels and not expected to impact other residents. It has been approved by the City Planning Commission.

Allen also explained that under the State’s Amended Substitute House Bill 233 (HB 233), communities can designated downtown redevelopment districts (DRD), districts which act similar to tax increment financing (TIF) areas. TIF is when a government wants to encourage development in area so it offers tax incentives to companies who create new capital investments or job growth. DRDs are similar in that they are a way of designating areas and providing tools and economic development incentive opportunities for those areas. Allen presented Council will four districts which include the Gallia Street Downtown Redevelopment District, the Chillicothe Street Downtown Redevelopment District, the Boneyfiddle Downtown Redevelopment District and the East Boneyfiddle Downtown Redevelopment District. The City worked with Southern Ohio Port Authority (SOPA) and the Montrose Group (a business management consulting firm from Columbus) in the development of the four districts. DRD can be used to access grants and loans to owners of historic buildings for rehabilitation purposes, investments in public infrastructure and contributions to organizations responsible for economic development. The City and SOPA plan to use DRD as a marketing tool to encourage development in the City’s downtown area.

Council will meet again at 6 p.m. on June 26 in Council chambers located at the Municipal Courthouse, 728 Second St., in Portsmouth.

By Nikki Blankenship

[email protected]

Reach Nikki Blankenship at 740-353-3101 ext. 1931.

Reach Nikki Blankenship at 740-353-3101 ext. 1931.