Last night’s meetings

Here are my notes from last night’s city council meetings:

New Commercial Developments

Council approved the site plan of another industrial building next to the newly erected one on Seasons Road, near Route 8. It will be nearly the same blueprint as the first. Both were created on a speculative basis — in other words, they were not made for a known tenant. But the first building has one tenant already and others are showing interest. This early success led the developer to begin construction on the second building.

Council also approved a new warehouse to be constructed on a vacant Commerce Drive parcel.

Clerk of Courts budget

We are currently analyzing the city’s 2016 budget. The most notable item in the budget is the Clerk of Court’s request for a funding increase of 14.5% beyond 2015 levels. The Clerk has hired 2.5 additional employees, and she believes the workload requires it.

As you’re aware from previous blog posts, City Council is doing its best to trim fat in every facet of Stow’s operations, while still providing high-quality services to residents. Please realize how difficult it is to balance a budget without raising taxes in the era where the state government has cut off the Local Government Fund. We have to be very judicious of our priorities.

To see an increase of this magnitude anywhere in the budget–much less in a department that provides very little direct service to our residents–was shocking. Our own Finance Director called the Clerk’s request “unsustainable.”

I made a motion to cut $71,000 out of the Clerk’s allocation, and it passed by a 5-1 vote (Pribonic voted “no”). The Clerk’s funding increase will be 8.5% instead of 14.5%, and we will scrutinize next year’s budget with equal vigor–given that advances in technology will lead to less labor needed, according to the Clerk.

There are many departments in our city that would love to hire 2.5 more employees. We could definitely use extra service workers or cops. We could use more people in our finance department. There are needs all over City Hall. The Clerk’s office, which serves mostly out-of-town attorneys and criminals, should not get preferred treatment over the departments that actually deliver services to Stow residents. Reducing the Clerk’s budget was a no-brainer.

Next Meeting

Council will meet next on March 24.