Court security, code enforcement in Council’s final 2020 session | #facebookdating | #tinder | #pof

PORTSMOUTH- Monday’s Portsmouth City Council will conclude 2020, a year marked by the nomination of three new Council members, passed measures, and the occasional fervent debate.

This meeting, held at the Shawnee State University Ballroom, will be 6th Ward Councilman Dennis Packard’s first since his Dec. 14 nomination and focus on seven legislation items.

Council will start with a 3rd reading of a code enforcement spreadsheet, an ordinance that has tabled and failed to surpass the three-reading rule previously. With its passage, City Manager Sam Sutherland would be authorized to enter an agreement with SSU to create monthly digital visualizations of complaints and citations related to code enforcement.

The university’s Social Research Lab would collaborate with the city on the project, where its students would design the spreadsheets each month and one for the whole year. Over the course of the next six months, Portsmouth would pay $240 through the end of May at the cumulative cost of just under $1,500 through the General Fund.

“We will provide citizens, Council, and the City Manager with a very clear picture of code enforcement and we’ll be able to do so at a greatly reduced price,” said 1st Ward Councilman Sean Dunne during the item’s initial conversations on Oct. 26. Other cities have built similar programs, he said but at costs as high as $1,200 per month.

Considerations of two separate appropriations will follow in 2nd reading, one for the entirety of 2021 and the other to move $100,000 for a zoning ordinance update.

Updating a 74-year-old code, which is projected to take to 9-12 months, the city would actually only be needing $75,000 of its own money since it received $25,000 through a placemaking grant in 2019.

The final four legislation pieces will be in 1st reading, two of which would amend salary ordinances and remove the 10% pension pickup paid by the city to the Fraternal Order of Police Dispatchers Unit. In terms of wage increases starting next year, several police and fire department unions would see that benefit:

  • 2.75% wage hike for the dispatchers dating back to Jan. 1, 2020, plus a 12.5% wage increase effective Jan. 1, 2021
  • 2.75% wage increase for non-union employees
  • 2.75% wage increase for FOP Scioto Lodge 33
  • 2.5% wage increase for IAFF Local 9
  • 2.5% wage increase for AFSCME Council 8 Local 1039
  • 2.75% wage increase for AFSCME Council 8 Local 1039C

Council members originally said the rudeness of Portsmouth Police Department dispatchers was a problem, which appeared to cloud the passage of its collective bargaining agreement. Yet after visits to their office, Mayor Kevin Johnson voiced support for the unit and the measure passed unanimously on Nov. 23.

Additionally, adoption of the Scioto County Natural Hazards Mitigation plan and the appropriation of $41,000 to the strengthen the Portsmouth Municipal Court Security Fund will be considered.

The mitigation plan, adopted by the Commissioners on Oct. 15, covers plans to decrease and deal with the aftermath of flooding, windstorms, tornados, and even earthquakes. According to the Ohio Department of Public Safety, flooding is considered an excessively-frequent hazard in the county, which could affect up to 8,000 residential structures and cost slightly under $300 million.

Extra money is needed in the Court Security Fund following a shortfall this year caused by pay increases and health insurance costs.

These meetings remain closed to the public, but council continues to practice social distancing and abide by Gov. DeWine’s orders with a limit of 10 people in the meeting. It will be live-streamed on Facebook for the public starting at 6 p.m..

Council asks that all statements or remarks be sent via email to City Clerk Diana Ratliff at: prior to 2 p.m. on Monday. The timer will be set and there will be a five-minute time limit on each comment that is received.

Portsmouth City Council will close out its 2020 meetings on Monday at the Shawnee State University Ballroom. Photo by Patrick Keck.

Reach Patrick Keck (740)-353-3501 ext. 1931, by email at, or on Twitter @pkeckreporter.

© 2020 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved.

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