PORTSMOUTH- The Portsmouth City Council and City Managers will hold their regularly scheduled meetings on Monday, discussing several big items.
Starting at 6 p.m., Council will bring two items to second reading and three to first reading. Consideration will be given to use of a Police Department fund to purchase tasers through participating in a five-year program to replace older models.
Also going to second reading is the contested marijuana decriminalization ordinance, which would remove the fines of possession beneath 200 grams. Under current legislation, Chapter 513.03 Drug Abuse; Controlled Substance Possession or Use of the city ordinances, possession of the drug could lead up to 30 days in prison and $250 in fines.
Placed on the agenda following the Manager’s meeting on Aug. 11, most Council members saw the amendment as a positive for the community.
“Certainly this is a more progressive way of thinking,” said 2nd Ward Councilwoman Charlotte Gordon, during the earlier meeting. “I think long term this will be a very positive thing for our youth.”
The same could not be said for other county officials, including the Scioto County Commissioners and Scioto County Prosecuting Attorney Shane Tieman.
“We have a major drug problem already,” said Commissioner Bryan Davis, in reference to the opioid epidemic. “Our preference is no one uses drugs to begin with.”
Tieman said if the ordinance were to pass it would not truly decriminalize, rather only remove the financial penalty.
“Pursuant to Ohio Revised Code section 2925.03(C)(3), if you traffick in marijuana, it starts as a felony of the fifth degree and elevates based upon the amount and/or if you are near a school or juvenile,” wrote Tieman in a Facebook post. “Money or other consideration does not need to be exchanged to be considered trafficking.”
In its first reading, Council will discuss the creation of the Portsmouth Arts Commission, the use of an additional $18,000 to replace the roof of the Portsmouth Service Department building on Mary Ann Street, and the acceptance of a dedication plat for the Front Street Multi-Use Path.
The last two pieces of legislation could skip the required three readings, as they are requested to be passed as an emergency to “facilitate administration, daily operation and avoid practical and legal entanglements.”
Immediately following the conclusion of the Council meeting, the City Managers will convene for their meeting. City Manager Sam Sutherland will start by requesting Council to use money from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act.
The $1.258 million funds will be used to create grants for the Scioto County Homeless Shelter, small businesses, food insecurity, and schools and assistance program for rent and mortgage.
For the creation of a new stage seating area on the riverfront, Sutherland is advocating Council to apply for a grant from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.
The Land and Water Conservation Fund would cover 50% of the project’s cost, estimated to be $361,000. For the remaining half, the city will apply for additional grants.
Sutherland is also asking for $160,000 to go to repair the sewer and alley between 16th and Dewey Street, money needed to stop blockage after the excavation process proved to be too large of a project.
Another $110,000 is needed by the Water Department to design a water pumping station in Franklin Furnace. Currently meeting water demands, the funding would go to meet potential increased needs as the area grows in population.
The meetings will take place at the Shawnee State University Ballroom and will be available for public viewing on the city government’s Facebook page.
Reach Patrick Keck (740)-353-3501 ext. 1931, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter @pkeckreporter.
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