Last night’s council meeting

Here are my notes on last night’s council meeting:

Capital expenditures – We usually consider all of our equipment/vehicle purchases at one meeting. Last night was it. We bought a slew of cars, trucks, snow plows, and excavators. We purchased an ambulance to replace a 2008 model and 4 new police vehicles. We are now buying Dodge Chargers for our basic cruiser, and the cost is very reasonable ($27K each). I voted “no” on one of the vehicle requests: new Chevy trucks for the water department and engineering department’s inspections and repairs. We don’t need new top-of-the-line trucks for cruising the city. (Heck, we could give employees a vehicle allowance and let them slap a “City of Stow” magnet on the side of their personal vehicles — and save tens of thousands.) Regardless, that purchase was still approved by a 5-1 vote. Each other proposal passed unanimously.

Route 8 – We all need to be very careful traveling on Route 8, because of the close proximity of the workers to the roadway. This is no joke: there will be a concerted effort to ticket drivers who are exceeding the 55-MPH speed limit, especially after a driver injured Sgt. Ted Bell last week. (Thankfully, he has left the hospital and is now recovering at home.) And fines are doubled. It would ruin anyone’s week to get slapped with a $300+ ticket.

Personnel moves – Council approved a new full-time position, Assistant Recreation Supervisor. The job will take the place of 2 part timers. I voted no, because we will actually lose man hours in the department, and it will cost taxpayers an additional $20,000-$25,000 per year. It’s the rare lose-lose situation (less work, more expense). It passed by a 4-2 vote (Riehl, Rasor). … We have worked really hard to keep personnel costs down over the past decade, and we poured that money into paying down debt and fixing the roads. Our fiscal restraint has put us in position to avoid tax increases, to have the best infrastructure in Summit County and to consider a Downtown project. We can’t return to the recklessness of the Fritschel years, and begin squandering those gains. (You might be thinking, “Of course, everyone cares about preserving taxpayer dollars!” … You’d be wrong.) We are only talking $25,000 a year, but it’s the mindset that concerns me. Death of 1,000 cuts.

Next meeting – Council meets next May 23.