Apr
13

Last night’s council meeting

The future of this blog – Some people are surprised that I continue to blog about city matters while I’m running for State Rep. (My primary election is May 8.) Two responses to that: (1) Until I’m sworn into the State House, I’m going to continue giving 110% effort to my City Council position. To me, that includes the duty of transparency. (2) I’m going to keep blogging, even after I’m elected to serve you in Columbus. No matter what the House leadership thinks about this practice, I’m going to use this blog to express my thoughts on policy and legislation. I’m hopeful it can be a place where regular folks can get news about their state government without filter.

Now, for my meeting notes…

Omni Development – The huge senior living development that straddles Hudson Drive and Allen Road asked for a revision to their plans, to add some more condo-type units. All told, this project will result in 70 new jobs, a $35 million investment, and hundreds of thousands of dollars in revenue for our schools, police, fire and roads. Sure, it might not be the exact development you or your family needs, but we all need to have a solid tax base that can alleviate the pressure to raise taxes on us residents.

Downtown Stow – On the other side of the coin, we are still working toward creating a Downtown Stow, with in-demand shopping and dining options. But we are seeking first to obtain more resident input. Please take a moment to complete our survey by clicking here: https://ohmplanning.typeform.com/to/RIGRuI

Spending Measures – Council voted to approve several vehicles and pieces of equipment, including 2 police cars, a leaf machine, and a cone-dropping truck. We asked tough questions, but the administrators justified the necessity of each. Mostly, they were replacing vehicles that were purchased in the early 2000s. The administration also approached council to replace several employees. Each of them passed, but one did not make it out of committee. The administration wanted to hire one full-time janitor to replace three part-time janitors, with an additional overall cost of $17,000 per year. Their rationale is that we have a difficult time keeping part-timers on staff. Understandable, but I’m OK with the extra hassle at that level of savings. Brian Lowdermilk and I voted “no” in committee; it required 3 of 4 votes to pass.

Other notes

  • As you have probably heard, we lost one of our first responders last weekend, with the passing of Firefighter Dan Whipkey. We are praying for his family. We are also thankful to our neighboring fire departments for picking up some shifts, which allowed our firefighters to attend Dan’s calling hours and funeral. Those departments are Kent, Cuyahoga Falls, Cleveland and Brooklyn.
  • Congratulations to the Stow Speech and Debate Team, which is sending 8 competitors to the national tournament in Fort Lauderdale. Council voted unanimously to help support their trip.
  • Council will meet next on April 26. No update on whether we will have a new mayor by then.

 

Mar
23

My notes from last night’s meeting

Service and Valor award – I was proud to deliver awards to four of Stow’s dispatchers who guided two men through the baby-delivery process. They did an “outstanding job under chaotic circumstances,” according to our police. Our community is blessed that we have such poised and talented dispatchers working when we need them the most.

Downtown Stow – We had another hearing on the Downtown Stow proposal. Since the last meeting, we reduced the geographic scope of the Community Entertainment District map–so it only encompasses the City Center property and some parcels that are across the street on Darrow. The district does not expand south of Graham Road. Mayor Kline proposed legislation to spend another $30,000 on consulting fees to gather community information and further refine the plan. My line of thought is to move forward with seeking proposals, and then gathering more community input–after we have detailed proposals on which residents can provide specific input. The $30,000 proposal was defeated in Finance Committee.

2018 budget – The administration proposed a good budget, but council made it better. I proposed an amendment to reduce the Clerk of Court’s allocation by $32,458. Three years ago, we invested a lot of money in technology that the Clerk promised would result in fewer employee hours. Yet the Clerk’s budget requests have continued to increase year over year. Sorry, but there has to be accountability. My motion to amend passed by a 7-0 vote. The budget overall passed by a 7-0 vote. When you have conservative Republicans and Democrats united behind a budget, you can be satisfied that your city’s finances are in great shape. Since 2009, we have made outstanding fiscal progress by balancing the budget without raising taxes, building our rainy-day fund to an all-time high, and paying down our city debt from $31MM to $15.5MM.

Seasons Road/Route 8 traffic lights – Here is some great news for residents in Northern Stow. We are moving forward to install traffic signals at the two Seasons Road exits on Route 8. ODOT is covering 80% of the cost (or about $400K). Hudson and Stow are splitting the balance (about $40K for each city). Those exits are terrible during rush hour. This is way overdue.

Stow Showcase – Make sure to put April 7 and 8 on your calendar for the Stow Community Showcase.

Hydrant flushing – We will begin flushing hydrants on April 1. If you have discolored water, please let it run for a while.

Alleged assault – I didn’t see the incident, although it happened 10 feet away from me. The two parties have widely divergent perspectives on what happened. Hopefully there is video to confirm the truth. Our police are investigating. I don’t expect the incident will distract us from the mission of providing quality services in a fiscally responsible manner.

Meeting Notes

Press Releases