CIC program controlled by the city of Steubenville a subject of debate | News, Sports, Jobs

STEUBENVILLE – It turns out that the 45 minutes allocated Tuesday to discuss the problems of the planning department were not enough.

The Board rushed into the last two points of Urban Projects Director Chris Petrossi’s talking points after spending most of the committee meeting debating the effectiveness of establishing a community improvement corporation. controlled by the city to facilitate the transfer of properties from the city to potential buyers.

But before Petrossi could even explain why he and legal director Costa Mastros had suggested council consider setting up a CIC, 4th District councilor Royal Mayo complained that he hadn’t received the mail email outlining the committee’s agenda a few hours before the meeting.

“Being on the planning committee, I had no idea,” said Mayo. “I’m starting to wonder what every member of the committee is supposed to do because I haven’t had any input or even the opportunity to contribute anything on any committee I sit on.”

General Counsel Kimberly Hahn, the chair of the committee, asked Petrossi if he would review his letter, but Mayo said that, “I wasn’t venting. These were real questions.

Petrossi, however, told the council he thinks the Port Authority has done a great job and the city should continue to support it in its economic development efforts.

“They have the capacity and the resources to continue to act as an economic development agency,” he said. “The idea was not at all to create a CIC that would be involved in economic development, that was not the primary goal, but to create a CIC that would be involved in property transfers or leases. How can we be more efficient and quicker to transfer city ownership from the city to a private entity – without doing anything the Port Authority does.

Petrossi said they envision the CIC being a branch of the city government.

“Isn’t the formation of a CIC by its very nature, by its very nature, which is a real corporation…shouldn’t it just answer to its own board of directors?” Mayo asked.

“Oh no,” said legal director Costa Mastros. “It is an economic arm of the city. We set it up to be completely controlled by the city. We wanted a precise, narrow and defined goal.

As originally proposed, the CIC would have consisted of the city manager, mayor, director of urban projects, chief financial officer, executive director of the Jefferson County Port Authority, chair of the city council’s planning committee, and a resident appointed by the mayor. , but at their March 29 meeting, Mayo had expressed concern that the council had only one voice. Then, on April 5, Hahn proposed to change the ordinance so that instead of just the chairman of the planning committee, all three members of the committee would sit, but it was rejected and the proposal was filed as a whole. .

Mayo stressed that having a handful of people on the committee doesn’t mean it would be controlled by the city.

“It’s only controlled by the city from the point of view that the people of the city are there, but it’s not controlled by… the seven people on this council. The city does not control it per se,” Mayo filed a complaint.

Third Ward Councilor Eric Timmons wanted to know if CIC should sell the property, who would determine the price.

“This body here defines these terms, just like you always have,” Mastros replied “This is yours.”

“If we were to find that the CIC was administering it improperly, could we disband it,” asked 2nd Ward Councilman Tracy McManamon. “Yes, I will check, but yes,

Petrossi pointed out that the majority of board members already work for the board.

“Let me say this,” said Mayo. “You only report to a few. I had no information on anyone working for the city. I know other people do it but I don’t, so you’re not working for me.

Petrossi says the city CIC “would have no staff, would have no resources.”

“I don’t think it would be confusing. Its primary focus would be the sale of city-owned property, not another focus – not economic development at all.

Mayo expressed concern that by approving the CIC, the council would cede some of its authority to a council.

“We already have power and control over city property,” said Mayo. “Why would we create another branch that doesn’t have to answer to us and then has power and control over property in the city? I do not understand.

Mastros pointed out that what he and Petrossi had in mind when they presented the idea to the board in November was to “Try to make the process easier” not spark a controversy.

“It makes our life easier, in my opinion,” he said.

City Manager Jim Mavromatis also weighed in, calling the idea of ​​a CIC city “an advantage, a tool, (but) that’s all.”

“My recommendation would be that we keep it filed,” said city manager Jim Mavromatis. “As we come in with properties or what we need, we turn it over to PA to take care of it in the meantime, checking how to expedite those purchases or what we need. They are there to support this city. If we don’t get the service we need, (then) you have the option to sue with the CIC in that city.

McManamon balked at that, pointing out that people who live in areas where neighborhoods have become run down want action.

“The first thing people said to me when I was racing…was that we had to clear the tops of the hills and we had to do it as soon as possible,” he said. “We have an obligation to clean (them). I don’t know if anyone other than the seven people sitting here, the city manager and the mayor, will be as concerned about cleaning up the hills and other areas of downtown as we are. The emphasis would come from us, the impetus would come from us. The CIC, if they don’t do an effective job, we will intervene, as we do (with any employee of the city). But I don’t think anyone other than our own Steubenville CIC is going to help us clear the hilltops and has to be one of our priorities and, perhaps selfishly, I think it has to be the one of our priorities to move our city forward. ”

Port Authority chief executive Robert Naylor told the board that the key to getting the kind of results they want is “Communication and collaboration.”

“We must be given the power to do things” he said. “If there is more communication and collaboration, we will meet and we will address these (concerns)…If we communicate and collaborate, we will be stronger.”

Petrossi, meanwhile, tried unsuccessfully to determine how much, if any, federal covid relief funds his office could get for demolishing dilapidated and unsafe homes. There are currently over 75 homes on the demo list and $350,000 has already been set aside from the general fund, but there is no way of knowing how many they will be able to apply for.

Mayo warned that the council must “Have a real meeting where we sit down and talk about it or we cut the money.

“I think we’ve had a lot of discussions about it,” Willie Paul, councilor for the 5th arrondissement, replied. “I always say water and sewage should be taken care of.”

Petrossi said they also had to decide what to do with the old Grant School site.

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Jessica C. Bell