Council Fills 1st Ward Vacant Seat

Bill Zanieski was unanimously chosen to fill the 1st Ward council seat during Monday’s Weirton City Council meeting.

Council chose Zanieski, chair of the city’s Human Rights Commission, to replace Ronnie Jones, who resigned from the position last month. Zanieski was expected to be sworn in this morning in Council Chambers in the Municipal Building.

Zanieski resides on McKinley Road and has been a lifelong citizen of Weirton. He graduated from Madonna High School in 1964 and then went on to Syracuse University, where he earned a degree in sociology in 1969. He achieved a master’s degree in sociology from West Virginia University in 1992.

Though he has no particular agenda yet, Zanieski said he looks forward to learning all about his new role on City Council. Zanieski had no comment regarding the recently expanded business and occupation tax, which will go into effect on Aug. 1.

In other matters, three ordinances and one resolution that were tabled at the June 9 regular meeting relating to budget scenarios were tabled again Monday. Those included two ordinances to amend the police and fire service fee, an ordinance to amend the municipal service fee and a resolution to authorize the city manager to begin the process of enacting a 5 percent cable franchise fee.

“My intention is to leave it sit, see how everything turns out and address it at a later date,” 7th Ward Councilman Terry Weigel said.

Sixth Ward Councilman David Dalrymple said the reason the police and fire service fee proposal was on the table was because of pending litigation.

“If we are sued and we are forced not to be able to spend the money generated by the expanded business and occupation tax, then that police and fire service fee reduction would cripple the budget,” he said. “Once the B&O legal issues are over, I plan to address it again and keep my word to the citizens, businesses and schools.”

Dalrymple was referring to an injunction filed against the city in an attempt to stop the July 1 special session vote on the business and occupation tax. The injunction, filed by Tri-State Medical, Startrans International and Ocean-Air, was dismissed by Second Circuit Judge David Sims. After the dismissal, J.J. Bernabei, owner of Tri-State Medical, said if the B&O expansion passed, he intended to take subsequent legal steps to battle the tax.

Also Monday, Finance Director Tom Maher reported the total cash available to the city is $247,475.83, while the investment balance is zero.

“Cash is extremely tight,” Maher said. “The stabilization fund is supporting the general fund right now.”

“After we’ve sat and gone through all this crap for all these months working with the budget, just looking here, just look at these numbers – you have to realize the cash balance is $247,000.

“The investments are $0. We’re down to $0. For all the people who said we should wait until next year. it’s here now. This is happening now,” Weigel said.