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Sistersville Council Hears Concerns About Fire Fees

By Staff | Jun 27, 2018

Sistersville Council convened for its monthly meeting recently and received reports from many of the department heads, including the fire department. This discussion brought forth concerns concerning the future of the city fire fee due to the passing of the county fire levy.

Mayor Bill Rice stated the city has considered cutting back the fire fee and recalculating the numbers to see how much the fire fee was bringing in. The fire levy is to be used on training, equipment, building maintenance, upkeep etc. The fire fee covers insurance and workers compensation, which the Volunteer Fire Department fears may end if the fire fee is dropped. Mayor Rice informed the VFD the fire fee would not be dropped completely. The topic was added to the agenda for next month for further discussion.

Under Department Head reports, it was noted Patrolman Lauer will be leaving to pursue another job in Pleasants County. Chief Rob Haught stated, “He’s been one of the finest officers I’ve had the pleasure of supervising and hiring, and we will miss him.” Haught then requested permission to advertise to hire another patrolman to fill the vacant spot.

Haught addressed a situation, which happened on South Wells Street where a suicidal person had injured themselves and held off EMS with a knife. Law enforcement negotiated for two hours before resolving the issue through non lethal means. Haught recognized Officer Alex Northcraft for putting himself in harm’s way to bring the conflict to a resolution. The person is still in Morgantown receiving treatment for their injuries.

In other police matters, Chief Haught also mentioned the cruisers are almost paid off, and he would like permission to search for a new vehicle to get a solid fleet of vehicles.

Councilman Heinlien suggested with increase in crime and other counties offering a higher pay scale to officers, Sistersville should consider raising its rate of pay for police officers. He would also like to see Chief Haught reimbursed for expenses brought on by Thor, such as dog food, since he is doing work for the city.

The Ferry Board reported business has been increasing and that may partly be due to the work being done on the bridge in New Martinsville. There is a Coast Guard inspection coming up, and new fire alarm systems have been placed on all the motors. The board received nearly $2,000 from donations and contributors of the ferry. Also FEMA had a meeting with the board about dock repair, but it will take a while before those funds come in. There are several repairs needed to the docks; therefore they will not be available this year.

The Planning Commission noted Spring Cleanup cost $4,175 for solid waste and Litman’s to come in and empty dumpsters. It was brought up that Planning Commission meetings should be posted three days in advance and met in a public setting. There was some debating about the discretion of spending funds and how much any entity has the right to spend. All groups should come before council to get approval of spending; however, there are situations when items need purchased in an emergency situation. Therefore, each entity should have a sense of responsibility when it comes to spending city money. Mayor Rice added the city can request an audit of any city entity to ensure that frivolous spending is not occurring.In other matters, the water board reported the river pump has failed, along with the backwash motherboard. The city is renting a pump for $14,000 a day to temporarily fix the problem until a permanent solution happens. There is also a stairwell which will need to be replaced at the cost of $21,300, so funding for the water plant will be tight. Mayor Rice is to meet with Precision Pump to try to get a good deal on a new river pump. A motion passed to give Mayor Rice the discretion necessary to correct the water issues at the water plant. Under Parks and Recreation, it was announced the park opened on June 2, and there has been good attendance. The park has even hosted a few free swim days. There is some concern with the lawnmower being broken. Parks and Recreation would like to know what happened, who is fixing it, and who is paying for repairs. There were some complaints about the mowing at the park, and some people feel whomever is mowing is not doing a good job and not respecting the equipment. The Park and Pool Board will discuss what to do about a mower at their next meeting.

Also, the camping sites are going to be marked off to allow that campers have adequate space. Some softball/baseball teams have been parking in areas that are not designated for parking, which is causing problems for campers.It was reported that city recorder Heather Rice attended a meeting with CSI and trained with them. While there, they found a $12 million error in the general funds. Rice stated she was able to learn many tricks and tips from the meeting to make her job easier.

A motion passed approving the Ferryboat Festival for July 27, 28 and 29; Catherine Street to Charles Street will be closed for the event.

The next scheduled Sistersville City Council meeting will be on July 9 beginning at 7 p.m. and located at the city building in Sistersville.