Last night’s city council meeting

Here are my notes from the July 12 meeting of Stow City Council:

Senior Snowplow Program – Council unanimously re-authorized the program that provides free driveway snow plowing for senior citizens and people with disabilities, subject to income thresholds. When I started on city council in 2010, this program was unwieldy and costly. We have implemented common-sense reforms, so that seniors do not have to divulge sensitive personal information, so that the services can be preserved for the people for whom it was intended, and to allow Stow-Munroe Falls High School students to volunteer by shoveling the sidewalks (cutting annual cost from $13K to $5K).

Charter Amendment on Term Limits – Mayor Costello advocated for an amendment to Stow’s charter that would (1) clarify that you cannot resign early in order to reset your term limits clock, and (2) extend the normal term limit (of 8 years), if you accepted an appointment to that post, or are filling an unexpired term. Based on the dynamics of having a mayor leave early, Stow is likely to see both of these situations arise at some point. Regarding item 1, if someone ran to fill the remaining 1 year of Sara Kline’s mayor term, that person could then come back to the elected position he/she previously held, with a fresh set of term limits. It’s probably not an outcome the people intended. Regarding item 2, if someone ran to complete Sara Kline’s final year, that person would only be eligible to run for one four-year term as mayor following that (being limited to a total of 5 years, instead of the normal 8). Item 1 would be a tightening of term limits (closing a loophole). Item 2 would be a loosening (possibly giving someone 11 years, instead of 8). Currently, both items are presented as one charter amendment, and as a result, the ballot language is difficult to follow for the average voter. I’d like to split them up, so you can walk in on election day and easily understand what the proposal is, and how it differs from the status quo.

SKIP Playground – We have had a thunderous response from the public in support of rebuilding Skip Playground. I think the consensus is, we are going to do it. Last night, John Pribonic proposed legislation for the city to match any donation to the playground, with a cap of $75,000. I am supportive of his idea, depending on the source of the funds. It actually follows the precedent from 1991, where donations were matched up to $40,000. The problem is, we don’t yet have a 501c3 entity with which to accept donations. The next step is for the city to create a committee that would do that, and then we would have the mechanism to accept donations.

Budget update – Historically, our income-tax collections as of July 1 are indicative of how the entire year will turn out. Currently, the city’s receipts are up by 1% over projections–which is great news. The outlook is even brighter for 2019, when a lot of economic development activity will begin to pay off. This city is in terrific financial shape. What does that mean for you? It means better roads, stronger police/fire forces, and a confidence that your city taxes aren’t going up. Getting the city to this level of financial security was my goal when I ran for office nine years ago, as a 24-year-old. It’s where I hope we can lead the State of Ohio.

Next meeting – Council will meet next on July 26.