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EL council talks money

EAST LIVERPOOL — Unlike other municipal recipients of American Rescue Plan (ARP) act funds, city officials are taking a wait-and-see approach before actually spending any of that money, explained Fred Rayl during Tuesday’s Finance Committee ahead of the next council meeting.

All members were present when city auditor Marilyn Bosco discussed the matter during her recap of the 2022 tax budget. She said officials decided that sitting on the money for a bit to make sure that they were spending it appropriately was prudent.

However, she said there is still some money factored into the budget, as the city can use it for budget stabilization. “This is a living and breathing thing. It is always changing,” Bosco said before reminding that it needs to be passed by Aug. 15. Recently acquired grants by officials were not included in the document, which had been due earlier but the city had gotten an extension. She said between that and pending developments like the FRX facility on Harvey, which is waiting on state approval and will generate additional income and property tax, there will be changes pending.

The Finance Committee also agree to introduce a request by Planning Director Bill Cowan to expand its Community Reinvestment Area efforts within the city to include the historic downtown area to allow commercial building owners to receive incentives if they do upgrades to their structures like the single- and two-family homes enjoy.

Currently property owners who participate in the program pay property taxes on the initial value assigned to their property instead of the higher values when they make the upgrades.

Among other pieces of legislation forwarded from the committee to council as a whole for its meeting Monday night are:

— Payment of $7,468.24 from the East Liverpool Health Department to the State of Ohio for the state’s share of second quarter moneys collected for birth and death certificates;

— Transfer of a property at 500 Maryland Ave. (aka the old East Liverpool school administration building) to the city’s Community Improvement Corporation (CIC), so that brownfield issues can either be remediated in the structure or the building torn down. Committee members expressed their belief that council should retain a say in what happens on the property, which should be retained for commercial development. With the building having asbestos and possible lead paint issues, the move would allow consultant Tetratech to pursue funding.

— Purchase of a backhoe from Southeastern Equipment at a cost of $111,443.38 through the state cooperative purchasing program to replace one in the sewer department. They will keep the old one as a backup instead of trading it in, according to Safety-Service Director David Dawson, as the city is down to two now after another one burned up in the fire at the car barn. He hopes to refurbish it as well as purchase another one later to make up for the shortage. He expects the new backhoe to be here in October.

— Designation of Dawson to oversee the intake project from bidding to completion much like he did with the Fourth Street project. He hopes this will speed of completion of the project, which he hopes to get started on by the end of the year.

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