Moratorium, dispatcher’s contract on busy Council agenda

By Patrick Keck - [email protected]

PORTSMOUTH — Such legislation as a multi-use path on the riverfront and varying appropriations of city funds will be reviewed at Monday’s Portsmouth City Council session.

In 4th Ward Councilwoman Lyvette Mosley’s first meeting since being appointed, 14 items will be read mostly in first reading.

Beginning with third reading, council will again consider authorizing City Auditor Trent Williams to close the 2020 fiscal year books and the ratifying of the Fraternal Order of Police/Ohio Labor Council Dispatchers Unit collective bargaining agreement.

The agreement has been subject of extensive discussion over Council’s last two meetings, with council members detailing complaints of rudeness by Portsmouth Police Department dispatchers from their constituents.

Among those originally was Mayor Kevin Johnson, who had said during the Oct. 26 that he was against the contract since it would increase pay for the eight-person staff.

“I can’t see having a raise in pay for a job that hasn’t been a well-done job,” he said during that session, joined by then 4th Ward Councilman Andrew McManus as the dissenting votes in a 3-2 decision to move the legislation to second reading.

Johnson switched sides during the Nov. 9 meeting in a 4-0 vote to move it to third reading following a visit to the dispatcher’s office that previous Friday.

“What we don’t understand being on this end is just how busy their evenings can be,” said the mayor, accounting for the dispatcher’s work in monitoring the 911 lines and radios.

With the acceptance of the agreement, pay raises for dispatchers would go into effect immediately. According to the agreement file obtained by the Portsmouth Daily Times, increases of 2.75% effective Jan. 1, 2020, and two 2.5% increases in 2021 and 2022 are at-stake.

There are four items on council’s agenda for the second reading, including an appropriation of $10,000 from the Capital Improvement Fund for a comprehensive housing market analysis and the creation of a code enforcement spreadsheet.

The analysis would be conducted by the Greater Ohio Policy Center, who through their research would provide details as to what should be done to meet housing needs in the city.

Additionally, an ordinance to amend the limitation of parking in residential districts and an authorization of City Manager Sam Sutherland to advertise for bids and enter into contracts next year will be considered.

Council’s remaining eight items will be in first reading where a revised application for the Designated Outdoor Refreshment Area and an emergency appropriation and transfer of funds to the Portsmouth City Health Department among others will be discussed.

A one-year moratorium of new health care, medical, rehabilitation, and mental health facilities could become a reality, as Council will weigh whether the recently-submitted master plan for the city qualifies a need for new facilities.

With a one-year timeline permitting a review of the plan’s new zoning code, the resolution suggests that the period will allow Council “time to accomplish the city’s goals and help ensure the public peace, health, safety, and welfare of its citizens.”

DORA is requiring additional review after being improperly advertised, which a two-week consecutive advertisement in this newspaper will be sufficient. As originally passed on Aug. 24, DORA would create a zone in the western end of the city permitting alcohol consumption by citizens.

Considerable sums of city money could go to two projects, one for the purchase of a Lenco Medcat vehicle for the Portsmouth PD and FD and the other an appropriation of $178,075 for the riverfront’s multi-use path.

“The worst thing we can do as city leaders is waiting until a criterial incident happens which costs a first responder or a citizen their life before we take the necessary actions,” reads a letter from Police Chief Debra Brewer and Fire Chief Bill Rasion, advocating for the need of the $265,000 vehicle.

The multi-use path, a 10-foot wide asphalt path along the Scioto and 2nd Street, Front and Offnere Street intersections, will receive $131,989 from the Clean Ohio Trail Fund grant and $12,000 from the Scioto Foundation, leaving $34,085 owed by Portsmouth.

Meetings remain closed to the public, but council continues to practice social distancing and abide by the Governor’s orders with a limit of 10 people in the meeting. The meeting will be live streamed on Facebook for the public.

Council asks that all statements or remarks be sent via email to Diana Ratliff the Portsmouth City Clerk at: [email protected] prior to 2:00 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 23. The timer will be set and there will be a five-minute time limit on each comment that is received.

By Patrick Keck

[email protected]

Reach Patrick Keck (740)-353-3501 ext. 1931, by email at [email protected], or on Twitter @pkeckreporter.

© 2020 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved.

Reach Patrick Keck (740)-353-3501 ext. 1931, by email at [email protected], or on Twitter @pkeckreporter.

© 2020 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved.