Council passes AFSCME agreement

By Nikki Blankenship -

Portsmouth City Council met in regular session Monday night when they held a public hearing on the 2018 Tax Budget. Though Council Chambers were full of people waiting to speak on the City Manager’s recent social media posts regarding the homeless, no one spoke on the budget that Council will soon be passing.

Before entering legislative session, Council presented Steve Sturgill, Frontier League Hall of Fame Inductee, with a proclamation recognizing his accomplishment.

In legislative session, Council accepted a grant in the amount of $8,550 for the purpose of fire department training. One item was up for a second reading – an ordinance approving and ratifying the recently negotiated collective bargaining agreement between the City and American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) 1039 for the period of Jan. 1, 2017 through Dec. 31, 2019. Council voted to waive the three readings rule and pass the item as an emergency in order to facilitate administration, daily operations and avoid practical and legal entanglements.

Several new items of business were tabled during the meeting. Four ordinances were on the agenda, which would create four downtown redevelopment districts – Gallia Street, Chillicothe Street, West Boneyfiddle and East Boneyfiddle.

Creation of the districts will, according to the ordinances, allow for the “declaring the improvements to real property within the downtown redevelopment district to be a public purpose; exempting seventy percent of the value of such improvements from real property taxation for a period of 10 years; requiring the owners of parcels for which improvements are declared to be a public purpose to make annual service payments in lieu of taxes during the period of exemption; establishing a municipal downtown redevelopment district fund for the deposit of such service payments; and approving related matters.”

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. The development of the four districts is a joint effort between the City and Southern Ohio Port Authority (SOPA), who plan to use the effort to encourage downtown development.

The four items were tabled until September in order to allow for a public hearing.

The other items up for a first reading included an ordinance authorizing the vacation of an alley at Kendall Avenue in order to allow for the expansion of the Speedway located at 2401 Gallia St.

Council will meet again at 6 p.m., on July 10 in Council chambers located at the Municipal Courthouse, 728 Second St., in Portsmouth.

By Nikki Blankenship

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

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