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Paden City Council Addresses Many Issues

By Staff | Aug 8, 2012

Susan Wade informed Paden City Council Monday evening that preparation for the annual Paden City Labor Day Celebration will begin on Thursday this year, since the festival is slated to begin on Friday. “I want to remind everyone, since this is our last meeting before Labor Day, the amusements will be set up late afternoon or evening on Thursday, Aug. 30.”

It was also noted that in addition to the carnival rides, the stage will be set up on Thursday, as well, blocking a section of Third Avenue.

In another matter, Fred Thomas spoke on behalf of the Eagles Club. “We have discussed it at our club meetings, and we would like to take our picnic back to Paden City Park. “

According to Thomas, the members of the Paden City Park and Pool board and he indicated they were in agreement. However, no one from the board was present at the meeting. “They read the rules and regulations to us, and we have no problem with them. We understand and we know how to take care of stuff. We always have, no matter where we have our picnic. They (the board) said they would have to bring it before the council.”

He continued, “You have four councilmen here. . .”

Mayor John “Hoppy” Hopkins interjected, “I talked to a member of the Park and Pool (board) this afternoon and he said it was off. I think that’s what they are assuming.”

“What we told them was that we were going to wait and see if the council approved it, because we don’t have a meeting until Wednesday night. We had a date, but it was already taken,” Thomas said.

Dan Probst commented, “They surveyed the members of the Park and Pool (board), and they decided to let (the Eagles) have it down there, under the guidelines that were presented to them.”

“Since there are four councilmen here, can they vote on it?” Thomas asked.

“No one brought it up for it to be on this agenda,” the mayor answered.

“That means you’ll have to wait another month.” Thomas said.

The city’s attorney, Carolyn Flannery, said, “To take action, it has to be on the agenda.” She noted that if a special meeting was called, it could be placed on that agenda, as well.

“I will get with the Park and Pool (board) and get it on the agenda if it’s something they want to address,” said the mayor.

“Well, they were supposed to be here,” Thomas said.

Under finance, a motion was made to pay the bills. Larry Potts, Bob “Glenn” Casteel, and Probst voted to approve the measure, Councilman Richard Wright voted no. The motion carried.

Under water, the mayor informed the council that a statutory audit was due for the water and sewer departments. Abraham and Company will be responsible for conducting the audit.

“Has this not already been done?” asked Wright.

“This is a special audit,” Hopkins answered.

City Recorder Tamra Billiter noted the audit was required by the Public Service Commission and was conducted annually.

Satisfied with the explanation, Wright made a motion to approve the audit.

A discussion of the purchase of handheld radios for the maintenance department was brought to the council. “This is something that (Maintenance Department Manager) Clifford (Duke’s) guys use when they are working. It’s a safety issue.”

The cost of the radios is estimated to be $400.

Potts made a motion for the purchase, but it died when no one seconded the measure.

Utility Clerk Julie Efaw, addressed the council on behalf of the Sanitary Board concerning a sewer rate increase and the results of a performa completed by Abraham and Company. “For the past six months the sewer has been about $4,000 in the red at the end of the month. I have over $11,000 in bond payments that have to be made, along with payroll,” she explained. “I have to sit on those bonds payments until payroll is met and the funds are built back up in order to pay those.”

This causes the payments to be made after the first of the month, according to Efaw. “Normally those bonds are paid right after the sewer board meeting, but the money has not been there to do it.”

The Sanitary Board had a performa done. Efaw reported the results indicated a 10 percent increase was needed in the sewer rates, which would bring it to $2.90. “We are not able to collect 10 percent more on our payments because people are not paying. We are going after them, but it’s not doing any good,” she said.

“The sewer board is asking the council to please pass an ordinance to increase the sewer rates by $2.90 per month,” Efaw concluded.

“Do we have a motion to approve?” asked the mayor.

Casteel commented, “I’d like to put that off until the other two council members are here.”

Councilmen Tom Trader and Matt Ferrebee were not in attendance as they were on vacation.

“That’s okay. You can do that if you want to, but I want to advise you that, in my opinion, you’re just prolonging the agony. We did the same thing with the water, and we are getting deeper and deeper in the hole. It’s going to have to be done eventually,” Hopkins said.

“You run the risk, if you start missing payments on the bond, of damaging our rating.”

“I still want to wait until we have a full council here,” Casteel insisted.

Flannery asked Efaw if the proforma was provided to the council. “Yes,” she answered. “I have the full proforma that says what needs to be done and why.”

“I make a motion to table this,” Casteel said.

His motion was seconded by Wright, passing with no objection.

The council discussed recommendations of streets to be paved. “I compiled a list of 10 streets and gave them to Clifford (Duke),” Wright said.

“He was going to look over the list and decide which ones were feasible to pave at this point, without having to dig them back up to fix water lines.”

Wright said he was not sure where Duke was with the list, to date.

The mayor asked for a motion to put the upcoming project out for bid. The measure met with the approval of the council.

In police matters, the council approved a request to provide an additional officer during the Labor Day Celebration, due to concerns of vandalism in the past. The council also approved the hiring of two part-time police officers: Mike Kelly, a retired Ritchie County Sheriff’s Deputy; and Scott Dalrymple, who currently works for the Tyler County Sheriff’s Office. Both Kelly and Dalrymple will help cover open shifts while the city’s full-time officers are training at the West Virginia State Police Academy or while they are on vacation.

The mayor asked council to consider bringing in a building inspector to look at specific properties in Paden City. There is a charge for this service, and Wright noted there are financial liabilities for the city beyond that, should the property be condemned. “We would have to pay for taking (the structure) down if they don’t,” he said.

Hopkins said, “I talked to Dave White today, and it’s spelled out. I don’t have the documentation, but I’m going to get it. It’s spelled out.”

Flannery said, “They come in and inspect it, and tell the property owner what they have to do to come into compliance. If they don’t come into compliance, then they put a notice on it that no one can use the property. If the city elects to demolish it, you will take a demolition lien on the property and it would initially be at your cost. So, in the event they try to sell the property or do something with it, the lien attaches to the real estate.”

“There is a process,” she added. “They are entitled to notice. They are entitled to the opportunity to correct the problem, which is really what you’re hoping they will do.”

The condition of several properties in Paden City have been brought to the council recently, prompting the governing body to draft an ordinance outlining the guidelines for property maintenance. However, Monday evening, Flannery informed the quorum that since they have already adopted the state’s building codes, which included specifications for property upkeep, the ordinance may not be necessary. “You don’t want to have two conflicting property maintenance codes,” she said.

“Can’t we just fine these people? Wright asked.

Flannery said, “You don’t have to have the building inspector come in to enforce minor infractions. The issue with the building inspector comes in when you want to take action, such as demolition of a building. . .you don’t have to have an inspector for everything, but you do need a copy of that property maintenance code, so you know. It probably addresses a lot of the questions and concerns of this council.”

Hopkins suggested the establishment of a fund to cover the cost of possible expenses incurred during the enforcement of the property maintenance code.”

“If you have a funding source, you can do things,” Flannery commented.

“That’s fine,” Wright said. “If we had the money to pay for it. But to pay (an inspector) $400 or $500 to come down here, and then we can’t do anything. . .all we can do is send a letter.”

“Well, we might be able to bring it into court and get something there,” Hopkins said.

“We’ve talked about this for a year or better.” Probst said, “If we are going to get any of these places cleaned up, having the building inspector come in is the first step. It’s the only way it can be done.”

He added, “Whether we get the money to back it all up, it’s something we have to do.”

Hopkins reminded the council that money had been budgeted for the inspections.

No action was taken.

A budget revision was proposed and approved. The measure increases revenue in line item 366 (State Grants) by $10,000; and line item 399 (Miscellaneous Revenue) by $400, courtesy of a donation from Wal-Mart to the Paden City Police Department.

In other matters, the council approved the hiring of Mary Barrick as the crossing guard for the 2012-2013 school year, as well as the re-appointment of Margaret Sine to the Paden City Library Board.

Additionally, council approved a request for the installation of a Maritime Information System utilized by the Coast Guard and the Army Corps of Engineers, at no cost to the city.

A request to hire a part-time employee for the maintenance department was tabled.