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Land bank at work in ELO

EAST LIVERPOOL — Nearly $1 million has been spent by the county land bank committee to demolish dilapidated houses inside city limits, according to information shared with city council this week.

Robert Ritchie of the land bank provided a report about the on-going program, telling council they are approaching the $1 million mark in tear-downs, saying, “We’re definitely making an impact.”

According to his figures, 67 houses have been torn down, eight are being rehabilitated, five are in the progress of being demolished, and 23 are still standing, awaiting demolition.

Currently, there are 26 properties that are being maintained under the mow to own program offered by the Land Bank.

He said the committee is working on obtaining four properties in forfeiture and a couple through donation, saying, “We’re looking at getting another big batch.”

Former city council member Sherrie Curtis is a member of the land bank committee and has been praised several times by Councilman Fred Rayl for her efforts in the program, which he has said many times has been beneficial to the city.

In legislative matters Monday, council approved the 2019 tax budget which Auditor Marilyn Bosco said is a “conservative” document subject to change throughout the year as revenue and expenses change.

Also approved was an ordinance requested by tax Commissioner Linda Harpold which will create a new filing requirement for employers with 25 or more employees to file withholding reconciliations electronically.

Harpold has told council’s finance committee this will coordinate with a new software program her office is now using, eliminating the need to enter large numbers of W-2s manually.

A lengthy report was given by councilman and streets committee chairman Scott Barrett on what the street department has been doing this month, with the report compiled by Deputy Director Rick Rudibaugh.

He offered a list of 19 streets which have been patched, noted the sidearm mower is actively in use, storm drains on Riverview Street repaired, jet rodding and cleaning drops and storm drains, cleaning up the highway and other projects as time allows.

Rudibaugh also issued a reminder to residents that no bulk items are to be brought to the Car Barn for disposal. They are required to call the mayor’s office to arrange for pickup by the claw truck, for which they are charged monthly.

Housing/environmental inspector Kayla Crowl reported that she has more than doubled the number of inspections since last month, saying she has been working hand-in-hand with the police department and telling council, “I ride in on their coattails, mainly complaint-driven,” and said she has come to “realize how blessed I really am” as she visits some of these homes.

She said she is working to help people reopen their homes, once condemned, saying one home was moved from the condemned list in full compliance.

Reporting on his recreation committee, Councilman Ernest Peachey said there has been some vandalism at the playgrounds, with new swing seats having to be replaced after being ripped off. He also said new basketball nets have also been ordered.

Ohio Avenue resident Linda Ziegler suggested a school zone sign on St. Clair Avenue that no longer flashes should be relocated to the Westgate school zone, and Councilman Brian Kerr said the school is putting up two new signs on West Eighth Street near Westgate that will show drivers’ speed as they pass by.

Ziegler also cautioned council to go into a mode of fiscal conservancy instead of continuing to spend money.

Bosco has said she is working on establishing a reserve fund.

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