Last week’s council meeting

Sorry for the delay, but here are my notes from Thursday’s city council meeting:

911 Dispatch Charter Amendment – Councilman Lowdermilk proposed an amendment to Stow’s charter, which would require the 911 dispatch center to be located on city grounds. The purpose is to give voters an opportunity to decide if they want to have their 911 dispatch operations to be city-operated, or operated by a third party that the city does not entirely control. As it stands today, council and the mayor could outsource dispatching to a council of governments (i.e., a “COG”)–without the voters’ approval. The pros/cons of a COG are for a later day. The question now is whether voters should get a say in such a significant decision. The proposed amendment will need 5 votes from council to be presented to the voters in November. It received 5 votes to make it out of committee last week (Harrison and Costello voted “no”).

Planning Commission Term Limits – Planning Commission, in my opinion, is the most thankless job in city government. You make tough decisions and receive no compensation, while performing the important gate-keeping function for zoning decisions. With that said, we should be constantly cycling in new blood and new perspectives. Council voted by a 7-0 count to present a charter amendment to the voters this November, to decide whether Planning Commission members should be subject to the same 8-year term limits as all of the city’s elected officials. This was a proposal Matt Riehl and I worked on together.

Graham Road – Beginning this morning, we will undertake a massive project to repave Graham Road, basically from 91 to Silver Lake Country Club. It will last 5 weeks. The good news is, there will always be at least one lane open in both directions.

Next Meeting – Council will meet next on June 13.


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.

Meeting Notes

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