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Council declines port authority discussion

Updated: Wednesday, February 26 2014, 08:02 PM EST

By Jessica Guay

Jefferson County, OH -

An open invitation led to some controversy after county leaders were turned away from a meeting in Steubenville.

The Jefferson County Commissioners were invited to attend the finance committee meeting on Tuesday evening to discuss funding for the county port authority.

“Well Thursday I came to the commissioners meeting to ask the commissioners if they would mind attending a meeting to explain to council the role of the port authority and also the funding process because I was not a councilman when that transpired and several others were not councilmen either,” 6th Ward Councilman Bob Villamagna said.

The two commissioners who showed up for the meeting at five, Dave Maple and Tom Gentile, were told they wouldn’t get a chance to do that.

“When we got there, we were told that we weren’t going to speak and that they weren’t going to address us in the meeting and I was kind of shocked,” Jefferson County Commissioner Tom Gentile said.

The decision made by other council members didn’t sit well with Villamagna.

“No, that was ridiculous, we could have brought them in, we could have took 15 or 20 minutes and discussed a little bit about what’s going on,” Villamagna said.

Gentile said he can’t understand why council couldn’t make time to learn more about the funds and how it helps the area.

“I’ve talked to some of the new council members and they feel that they’ve had a difficult time getting a straight story as to how the whole thing was put together which is why the two of us offered to go there,” Gentile said.

Gentile said when they first formed the port authority, equal funding was assumed, but that’s not happening.

“We’re budgeting $150,000 and they are budgeting $5,000 and they have half of the seats of appointment and quite honestly, that’s an insult. I would almost prefer them to say that they’re not giving us anything at all,” Gentile said.

At this time, there is no plan for a future meeting between commissioners and city council to discuss the port authority.

Council declines port authority discussion

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