PORTSMOUTH — Portsmouth City Council held its regularly scheduled meeting Monday evening, appointing a new councilperson for the 4th Ward and reviewing 11 items on its agenda.
In a 3-1 vote, Lyvette Mosley became the new Councilwoman, replacing Andrew McManus, who announced his resignation during the council’s Oct. 12 session.
The executive session during which the council interviewed five candidates lasted more than two hours and made for challenging decisions for the council, who said that many great ideas had been presented.
Before this session, the council reviewed legislation and passed two ordinances in third reading. With their passage, the city’s zoning map will be amended to allow 1871 Bonser Ave. to have its status as Residence “B” District changed to “Agricultural.” The city’s partnership with Main Street Portsmouth has also been extended through 2023, an annual cost of $55,000.
Reversing course, Mayor Kevin Johnson joined with the rest of the council by ratifying the collective bargaining agreement between the city and the Fraternal Order of Police/Ohio Labor Council Dispatchers Unit.
Johnson and McManus voted against the ordinance, but it passed first reading 3-2 Oct. 26 despite the mayor and other council members voicing disappointment with the Portsmouth Police Department dispatchers.
“What we don’t understand being on this end is just how busy their evenings can be,” said Johnson, who visited the dispatcher’s office Friday and encouraged his fellow council members to do the same.
According to Johnson, the dispatchers in addition to monitoring three 911 lines also operate the police, fire and ambulance radios, take calls from the New Boston and Shawnee State police departments, and communicate with on-duty officers.
“While I believe it’s their responsibility as dispatchers to take all calls with professionalism when we call, I believe we need to treat them that way as well,” he said. “We need to be mindful of their time and realize that they’re not just sitting there in a office there.”
1st Ward councilperson Sean Dunne also voted to move the ordinance on to third reading but asked the public to compare their complaints against the dispatchers to the reckoning of police violence happening across the country.
“It’s unpleasant being talked to rudely on the phone, but certainly we can see having a relative or neighbor or friend being shot and killed how you would feel if that were to happen,” said Dunne. “One of the things I’ve noticed is that connection is not being made, unfortunately.”
On Tuesday, Dunne said that this contract has already technically gone forward since 30 days have passed since it was negotiated between the city and the union.
According to the agreement file, sent by Portsmouth PD to the Portsmouth Daily Times, dispatchers would receive a 2.75% pay increase effective Jan. 1, 2020, and two 2.5% increases in 2021 and 2022 in addition to a 10% hourly pay increase in lieu of the city’s pension pickup program through the contract.
While the first two first reading ordinances, one which appropriated $10,000 in the use of a comprehensive housing market analysis, passed without discussion, Council tabled discussions of a code enforcement spreadsheet and a moratorium for new institutional care facilities until next meeting. These items will remain on first reading.
The remaining pieces passed, two of which waived the three reading rule and later passed. The first allows the appropriation of funds for Community Development Block Grant Fund #243 and ARC Grant Fund #244 and the other authorized City Manager Sam Sutherland to enter into a lease agreement with the Trillium Project.
Through this group, further artwork/enhancements on the concrete floodway as part of the City’s ongoing efforts at Urban Renewal and Revitalization plans in cooperation with the Portsmouth City Street Art Commission will proceed.
Reach Patrick Keck (740)-353-3501 ext. 1931, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter @pkeckreporter.
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