STEUBENVILLE — After weeks of delay, City Council voted Tuesday to set the wheels in motion for a property transfer that will help Franciscan University of Steubenville reconfigure its campus access.
Council voted 7-0 to convey the 10-foot strip of land next to Super 8 as well as another small parcel on Franklin Avenue near Capri Sausage Shop to the Jefferson County Port Authority, which, in turn, will sell them to FUS.
The vote almost didn’t happen, however, as several council members wanted to make sure Finance Director Dave Lewis had received information he needs to satisfy the requirements of the Tax Increment Financing plan with FUS’ Good Ventures Properties. Those numbers allow the city to track the growth in revenue and jobs in the Franciscan Square TIF district so a proper accounting can eventually be made to the school districts.
“We don’t have the numbers yet but we are in the process of working with them,” Lewis assured council.
Law Director Costa Mastros stressed that the problem isn’t the university, it’s the TIF document itself: Nothing in it requires tenants to provide the requested information to FUS.
“There’s no legal mechanism for the university to require tenants to provide the information,” Mastros said, adding, “There’s nothing we can ask them that they have to produce.”
FUS Vice President of Finance Rick Rollino pointed out their tenants already provide payroll information to the city, though it’s not necessarily in the format city officials want it.
“Putting the university in the middle … just kind of confuses the situation,” he said, adding, “I don’t think the burden of (gathering that information) should hold back the university and economic development.”
“We’re very appreciative of the TIF,” he concluded.
Council also signed off on emergency legislation resolving the litigation surrounding Steubenville’s neighborhood conservation districts, though before that vote they also approved an amendment to it adjusting the maximum number of rentals permitted in the Belleview NCD at eight. Councilwoman at large Kimberly Hahn told council that after checking with Urban Projects Director Chris Petrossi, “one of the nine registered rentals did not have all the paperwork (submitted) so it should be amended to eight” in Belleview NCD.
Fourth Ward Councilman Scott Dressel said he voted yes, but not because he supported NCDs, drawing an “I agree” from 1st Ward Councilwoman Asantewa Anyabwile. Both said previously they felt it important for the city to avoid a long and costly legal battle.
At council’s urging, 5th Ward Councilman Willie Paul, chair of council’s finance committee, sunshined legislation that will allow Fire Chief Carlo Capaldi to add three more positions to the fire department. Paul had originally intended to allow Capaldi to plead his case to council, but the finance committee meeting ran long.
When they finally got around to it during the regular meeting, Capaldi offered to come back next week since council was going to meet in executive session to discuss non-union personnel issues.
Paul told the chief he supported the expansion even he couldn’t be there for the meeting.
“I agree with you on this, I’m behind you 100 percent,” Paul told the chief. “I’ll call the meeting and following week we can vote on it.
“I don’t know if we need a meeting,” 2nd Ward Councilman Craig Petrella interjected. “We’re still using mutual aid two to four times a day … there’s a need out there. If we get a second ambulance up and running, we can pick up more calls, which pays for the second ambulance.”
Capaldi told council he figures with six people, they’ll be able to run two ambulances unless someone’s sick or on vacation. “I believe we can pay for the six people that will get us to the point where we can run a second ambulance as long as no one off.
“We’re doing it in baby steps now because we’re just starting, because we don’t have the history.”
Capaldi said he worked the last four Mondays “and we’ve done eight calls a night.”
“It’s been pretty steady,” he said. “We’re not doing this to put money in the bank, we’re doing this to provide a service.”
Paul also told council he’d like to “get the ball rolling” on memorial flags for war veterans to be displayed on poles in the downtown and on Sunset Boulevard.
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