Last night’s council meeting

Here are my notes from last night:

Primary Election date – As you’re probably aware, I am proposing legislation to amend Stow’s charter, to have our primary elections in May, instead of September. It gives overseas military a better opportunity to vote in municipal elections. And it will save tens of thousands of dollars. We had a debate over the topic because Brian Lowdermilk was skeptical that any military personnel is adversely affected by a September primary (I gave him direct evidence to refute that). Then Matt Riehl proposed eliminating primary elections altogether. We tabled the discussion until we can consider whether the elimination of primaries is an even better idea. It’s a little frustrating that Matt to raise the idea until 4 months after my original proposal. But the good news is, we don’t have to submit anything to the Board of Elections until August. That’s why I started the discussion 10 months in advance.

Clerk of Courts’ Budget – Council heard testimony from Stow Clerk of Courts Diana Colavecchio. Last year, she submitted a 2016 budget that had a $170,000 increase from the year before. She told council that her predecessor, Kevin Coughlin, had been running the office on a shoestring budget in order to have a strong campaign narrative in the election year. I didn’t buy that story completely. I made a motion to reduce her budget by $70,000, which passed. Diana returned to council later in the year to request more money. Council gave her office an additional $45,000 (over my objection).

We are now discussing the 2017 budget. Diana made a very nice presentation that showed how a new computer system has automated many of the tasks that previously required countless man hours to complete, including document filing, accepting payments, and accessing court records. It’s a great system. No question. It should lead to a LOT of efficiencies and elimination of work.

She is asking for a 2017 budget that is about $41,000 less than the eventual sum spent in 2016. She will have 16 full-time and 6 part-time employees (compared to 19 and 3 in 2016). I want to see even more reduction in workforce. These are ultimately Stow’s tax dollars.

Storm water projects – Council examined the storm water projects completed in 2016 and to be completed in 2017. Here is a brief list of areas/streets that have been benefited by 2016 projects:

Treeside (culvert replacement), Ritchie Road (storm sewer), West Arndale (storm sewer), Fishcreek/Lakeshire (ditch enclosure)

Here are the projects for 2017:

Marhofer detention basin, Wetmore Park, Leewood area (culvert), Mud Brook stream, Klein/Conwill, Quail Highland (retention basin), Camden Drive, Hudson Drive (catch basin)

Next meeting – Council will meet next on March 23.