Marietta officials discuss grant spending

MARIETTA – City councilmen on Monday took their first look at the 2014 Community Development Block Grant budget.

The Finance Committee received recommendations from the administration on spending the annual entitlement of $345,743.

Development Director Andy Coleman said the amount from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, administrators of the federal program, is the same as this year.

“But it’s possible we could see a 2 percent increase from HUD next year,” he said.

Coleman said after subtracting $109,687 in costs for housing programs and housing administration, $236,056 was left to fund $436,988 worth of other requested projects in the proposed CDBG budget.

Among the administration’s recommended projects is $69,148 for the development department’s oversight of the block grant; $37,000 for operation of the local Community Action Bus Lines; $35,000 for the 2014 citywide asphalt paving project; $30,000 for a sidewalk repair program; $15,000 for Marietta Main Street support; and $12,500 for police bike and foot patrols in all four wards.

“I would like your recommendations or what you would like to see changed in this budget, and will come back in two weeks to review those recommendations,” Coleman told the committee members after his initial rundown of the proposed CDBG budget.

Councilman Tom Vukovic, chairman of the Finance Committee, said the budget has to be submitted to the federal agency by Nov. 15.

“There are always significant demands for our CDBG monies,” he said. “We’ll have to make some tough decisions. There is no easy answer.”

Vukovic said the committee would continue consideration of the 2014 CDBG budget next week.

In other business Monday, the streets and transportation committee continued to discuss the adoption of an Ohio Environmental Protection Agency-recommended ordinance to address the quality of the city’s stormwater runoff.

The city’s current land development ordinance already covers many stormwater-related issues, but Kathy Davis, stormwater specialist with the Washington Soil and Water Conservation District, said that ordinance does not address the quality of runoff water, which is now required by the Ohio EPA.

Law Director Paul Bertram III said the city’s land development ordinance does contain measures pertaining to the quantity of stormwater runoff allowed from new construction, and the current ordinance also addresses building in landslip-prone areas.

“But now the state is demanding that we also have a water quality ordinance in place by the end of this year,” he said. “If not we will be fined for non-compliance.”

Davis said a fine could be levied against the city by the Ohio EPA for every day the water quality ordinance is not in effect. She did not know the amount of that daily fine.

Vukovic said he’s concerned that the recommended water quality ordinance would completely supplant the city’s land development ordinance that took a past council more than a year of special meetings to put together.

“I don’t think we should just throw the whole thing out,” he said.

Davis agreed that the water quantity and slip-prone areas in the current city ordinance should remain in force in addition to new water quality regulations that are being required of cities across the state by the Ohio EPA.

“Every community is unique,” she said. “Marietta does have water quantity and landslip areas that need to be addressed. Ohio EPA just wants the water quality issue addressed also.”