Apr
15

Last night’s council meeting

Here are my notes from last night’s meeting:

Louis A. Dirker Jr. Boulevard – Council renamed the road that winds through City Hall and the Safety Building. Very fittingly, it will now be known as Louis A. Dirker Jr. Boulevard. Lou was our police chief from 2003 to 2014. Last month, he died of cancer at age 67. The Dirker family was in attendance last night, but they were mostly kept in the dark on this proposal. It was a surprise from Matt Riehl; I didn’t even know about it until last night. The sign will be unveiled on August 20–which is Lou’s birthday, and also the day of a 5K race in his honor. At the meeting, a lot of people shared their condolences and memories of Lou. It was a special time.

Storm Water Fee Proposals – As you know, the city needs about $8 million to perform significant improvements that will prevent flooding in various parts of the city. Last night, council saw a third proposal relating to storm water fees. (Last month, Mayor Kline and Jim Costello proposed raising the fee to $8 per month on residences. Brian Lowdermilk countered by proposing to shift around dollars in an effort to free up more money for infrastructure improvement.) The third proposal, also from Lowdermilk, was to cause commercial properties to bear more of the fee increase than residences.

To me, having three proposals on the table created legislative chaos. Upon hearing Lowdermilk’s amendment, I used my authority as Council President to appoint a special committee, which consists of Lowdermilk, Costello and Kline. I asked them, in the next 30 days, to collaborate on one proposal to put before council, and the three of them must be unanimous in supporting it. If they are unable to find consensus, then we will go back to discussing three proposals at once. But hopefully, they will find compromise, their plan will be passed into law, and we can begin to tackle this problem as a team.

Library Parking – Council unanimously approved an expansion of the library’s parking lot, from 119 spaces to 150. The expansion will occur along Beech Street and should be completed by the end of the year.

Water Line Opt-In Program – This may surprise you, but not every house in Stow has city water. There are some roads without service. We want to change that, in order to help fire prevention, provide better water quality to these people, and add customers to our system. Recently, Lowdermilk and Service Director Nick Wren put together a plan to allow these residents to opt in to water service. They will bear 75% of the prorated cost associated with the new water line, with an option to have it assessed to property taxes over 10 years. As is typical, the resident would be responsible for 100% of the costs of tying in through a service line. I support this effort, and so did the rest of council. The plan was approved unanimously.

Comprehensive Plan Update – Council approved $28,500 for a consultant to assist the City in updating its Comprehensive Plan, which has not been revised since 2001. The Ohio Revised Code places great importance on the Comprehensive Plan for purposes of zoning and city planning. It’s essentially the City’s zoning constitution. Every zoning action should be consistent with the Plan.

Next Meeting – Council will meet next on April 28.

Mar
25

Last night’s council meeting

Here are my notes from last night’s meeting:

Storm water solutions

Our city engineer recommends $8 million in storm-water improvements to help prevent flooding in Stow. As you might expect, we don’t have a spare $8 million.

Last month, Mayor Kline (now married, fka Mayor Drew) introduced legislation to raise the monthly storm water fee by $5 per household or business. It would raise about $650K extra per year. The proposal didn’t make it out of the finance committee. Last night, Jim Costello introduced that same legislation on the floor of council. It was provided a first reading.

Earlier in the evening, Brian Lowdermilk and Bob Adaska proposed a competing solution for funding the $8 million. Their proposal would use the fund’s existing $750K per year on ONLY storm-water projects. (Over the years, the fund has been used for other purposes–related to storm water, but not directly tied to improving city infrastructure.) Bob and Brian’s proposal would free up at least $400K in extra money per year for projects. If these funds were used to pay annual debt service, we could make a bond issuance of about $5 million.

We will be discussing both proposals in the coming weeks.

2016 budget

The budget passed last night by a 4-2 vote. Riehl and Costello voted no, although it seems as if Costello’s “no” was accidental. Riehl objects to the fact we are spending more money than we are taking in. I share his concern, but I voted “yes” for three reasons: 1) We had to pass a budget by next Thursday, or else we will be in violation of state law. 2) There was one amendment to improve the budget (reducing clerk of courts’ allocation); it passed and became part of the budget. 3) This budget will actually be balanced so long as our income tax growth matches the 4.6% growth in 2015.

Council will meet next on April 14.

 

 

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