Warren council discusses priorities

Rental property is a
community and council concern.



WARREN — City council says getting a handle on policing rental properties is a top project to undertake next year.
During a brainstorming session Tuesday, city council members shared their priorities for funding in the 2008 budget.

This year’s general fund budget was about $20 million, and the projected 2008 budget is about $1 million less, city officials said.

The issue of rental properties has come before council before, and a new organization, the Warren Community and Clergy Coalition, held a public forum last week to discuss the matter.

Law Director Greg Hicks said it is not a good idea for the city to take over properties. “We are not good landlords,” he said.

Councilman Andy Barkley, D-3rd, said there are good landlords in the city and there are bad ones that the city needs to take action against.

Dan Crouse is running unopposed for an at-large council seat next month, and he agrees that the issue with rental properties should be a top priority for council next year.

“Currently there is no efficient method in handling them [rental properties],” he said.

Another council priority year is addressing the city’s physical appearance.

Council President Robert Marchese said the city will not attract people or even keep residents if the grass isn’t mowed.

Hicks said the issue with the grass cutting is that some of the tall grass is on private property, and the city does not handle that.

“We don’t provide lawn service for people who don’t feel like cutting their grass,” Hicks said.

The city would use jail prisoners to cut the grass, and not city workers, so more properties owned by the city can be cut.

Councilwoman Sue Hartman, D-7th, said, “I would like the city to look at setting up an ambulance service.”

Her suggestion is that the service would be part of the fire department and go out on calls with firefighters, therefore reducing the cost to residents of calling a public ambulance for service.

Councilman James Pugh, D-6th, renewed his request for funding a new fire station on Palmyra Road, something he has been advocating for several years.

Other priorities discussed were boarding up of abandoned buildings to protect them from vandalism, reconstructing roadways, city building usage and debt service.

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