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January 5, 2014

New Albany council to select president

Port Authority up for a final vote on Monday

NEW ALBANY — The New Albany City Council will select a new leader during its first meeting of the year on Monday and cast decisive ballots on forming a port authority and curbing aggressive panhandling.

Pat McLaughlin was the 2013 council president and can seek the position again if nominated. Councilwoman Diane McCartin-Benedetti held the seat in 2012, and Jeff Gahan was the council president in 2011 prior to being elected mayor.

Typically at the onset of the initial meeting of the year, the sitting council president calls for nominations from the body for a new leader. The nominee that garners the most votes becomes the council president for that year.

The council president assists in forming agendas for council meetings and also manages the discourse during those meetings.

John Gonder is the current council vice president.

Panhandling, port authority final votes

The ordinances were approved on initial readings last month, but measures to limit aggressive panhandling in the city and to form the New Albany Port Authority will require one more ballot before becoming official.

The Gahan administration backs the establishment of the port authority to aid in the maintenance of the Ohio River Greenway. Gonder, who is the sponsor of the ordinance, said the authority can also serve as an advocate for recreational and possible commercial riverfront development.

Though it’s not included in the ordinance to establish the body, the Port Authority could request the council approve a levy that would equate to about $33 a year on a property worth $100,000.

The tax money could be used to support riverfront projects such as a marina, however, the council would have to approve the levy.

Councilman Dan Coffey abstained from voting on the ordinance on initial ballots, as it passed 6-0. Council members Kevin Zurschmiede and Benedetti were absent.

Coffey said he wanted more specifics about the Port Authority before he would back it.

“A marina will be a black hole,” he said.

The aggressive panhandling ordinance was approved 5-1 on initial ballots last month. It would prohibit aggressive panhandling within 20 feet of public buildings, schools and ATMs.

The meeting will begin at 7:30 p.m. and will be held in the third floor Assembly Room of the City-County Building.

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