Here are my notes from last night’s meetings:
Pay raise - Council discussed raising the compensation for a City Hall position, from a pay grade 8 to pay grade 10. The job was judged, in an objective manner, to be an 8 under our current pay-grade matrix. For reasons that I do not believe are compelling, the administration asked to raise the pay about 20%. I voted no, and so did Matt Riehl. The rest of council voted “yes,” so the legislation passed. … Until this council passes a balanced budget (hasn’t happened in 7 years), council should be very careful about giving raises or making unnecessary expenditures. This was a mistake, not only for this job, but because it opens to door to many other raises.
North River Road - I think we finally resolved the North River Road fiasco. For four months, the road has been closed just west of Roses Run Country Club. The south side of the road collapsed in big May storm. The road stayed closed as the administrations of Stow and Munroe Falls disagreed about the proper remedy. Stow’s engineers believe the current size of the culvert pipe underneath the road is sufficient, and some cement should bolster the south side of the road to prevent erosion. Munroe Falls demanded a larger culvert, which would have cost several hundred thousand dollars. For four months, we had a stalemate. I felt I had to step in. So I proposed a solution that the cities adopted last night: Stow will assume control of both sides of the road, and Munroe Falls will pay for the repairs recommended by our engineers. Both councils will need to approve transfer of the road, but the deal required repairs to begin immediately (i.e. today or Monday). The road should be reopened within a week.
Storm Water Fee Increase - We briefly discussed a proposal by John Pribonic to raise the storm water fee by $2. The increase will raise an extra $275K per year. … Ten years ago, council originally approved the $3/month fee, which raises $800K annually. The fee has not been adjusted for inflation or increases in construction costs. A tax increase should only be considered when there is a compelling need. We definitely have a compelling need. However, I have some concerns as to whether the current funds are being used effectively. I also wonder aloud whether Stow’s voters should weigh in. Lastly, I think the fee should eventually be phased out, once we have built all of the storm-water infrastructure that the fee was intended to fund. We will discuss this measure more in September.
Stow will hold Summer Sunset Blast on August 29-30, with the fireworks being shot off at 9 p.m. Saturday. This is a great event for families and our community.
Council will meet next on Sept. 11 at 5:30 p.m. Before the meetings, there will be a 9/11 ceremony at 5 p.m. at City Hall.
Here are my notes from last night’s meetings:
– We had a light legislative agenda last night. Finance committee discussed two items. First, we analyzed a tax incentive package for RF Cook Manufacturing, which wants to build a 6,900 sq. ft. expansion to its facility on Allen Road. The expansion would lead to 5 new full time jobs and one new part-time job. Perhaps more importantly, it will confirm the retention of RF Cook’s 35 existing employees. Based on the growth and retention, council agreed to abate taxes for 10 years on the additional property taxes that would otherwise accrue on the expanded facility.
– Council also unanimously agreed to continue the snow plow assistance program, at a cost of $10,000 for next year. The program assists 80-90 families who are unable to plow their own driveways. I think it is a prudent and compassionate use of our tax dollars.
– Our road paving program will being soon. Of primary importance is paving Newcomer and Fishcreek before school starts.
– We learned that the $75,000 appropriated to dig a new well at Fox Den might not be necessary this year. That would be good news.
– On Monday, the northbound Route 8 ramp to Graham Road will be open. Paving on the south side of Graham will soon begin, following by widening of the north side of the road.
– Council president Matt Riehl appropriately commended the city officials and council members who worked to pass the panhandling ordinance. If you haven’t noticed, panhandling has mostly ended in Stow. While the ordinance did not solve everything, it cracked down on improper panhandler behavior. Kudos especially for the mayor, law director, and Brian D’Antonio (chairman of the roads committee) to get this hammered out.
– City council will meet next on August 14.