Here are my notes from last night’s council meeting:
Union matters – Council approved a new 3-year collective bargaining contract with Stow’s dispatchers. It will mostly mirror the contract with our service workers (AFSCME), with 2% raises in each of 2015, 2016 and 2017. The employees’ monthly costs of healthcare will increase by $20 per year, until they reach $165/month at the end of the contract.
2016 budget – Council gave a first reading to a temporary 3-month budget for 2016. In the coming weeks, there will be meetings among the mayor, finance department, council president Matt Riehl and me — and we will hash out the direction that our 2016 permanent budget will take. I’ve said it a million times: Budgeting is our most important task each year, and I take it very seriously.
City’s self-insurance program – Council unanimously agreed to continue its partial self-insurance program. Basically, the city assumes the exposure of claims up to $5 million per calendar year and up to $150,000 per covered person. After that, our stop-loss insurance kicks in. Premiums for stop-loss have run us between $250,000 and $280,000 annually. To me, this is the most efficient way for the city to provide health insurance to its 200+ employees. I was glad to continue the program.
Rock-salt settlement – You may have read about the rock-salt settlement (click here if you haven’t). Stow’s portion of the $11.5 million settlement fund is $49,587. We already have that check in hand. Kudos to Attorney General Mike DeWine for a job well done in protecting municipalities.
AllScapes – The former site of Joe’s Auto will soon be occupied by a landscaping company, AllScapes. Council expressed a great deal of satisfaction last night that this hard-to-fill vacancy would now have a tenant, especially considering its prominent location on Darrow Road.
Fundraiser – Matt Riehl and I will hold a fundraiser on Wednesday, Oct. 21 from 6-8 p.m. at Heritage Barn in Stow (5238 Young Road). My wife will serve her famous chili and will prepare (what I’m told will be) an outstanding baked potato bar, along with desserts and other refreshments. We would love to have you attend. Recommended donation is $25 to Friends of Matt Riehl and/or $25 to Mike Rasor for Stow. You may RSVP by using the “CONTACT MIKE” button at the top of this page.
Next meeting – Council will meet next on October 22.
Here are my notes from last night’s city council meetings:
New commercial projects
Everyone at city hall will agree that there is good news on the jobs/economic development front. Albrecht Inc., which owns a parcel at the corner of Hudson Road and Campus Drive, will build two 16,000-square foot buildings. A tenant is in place to take 12,000 sq. ft. of one building. The rest of the space is on a spec basis. This project will result in $3,350,000 in new payroll for employees and $67,000 in new taxes for the city. Because this tenant (Wheaton & Sprague Engineering) is currently located in Stow, we also ensure that the jobs stay here.
The other project is also in the northwest quadrant. Mickey Thompson Tires is looking for a new location, and it’s quite possible that the parcel next to them (off McCauley) could be suitable for a 220K square foot warehouse and office building. This will result in six new jobs, but more importantly, the retention of 58 jobs. The company is currently looking at several different cities, but Stow is offering its best tax incentive package to keep the jobs here.
Route 8 funding
Council passed legislation that would allow the City of Stow to accept funds from ODOT for the maintenance of Route 8. It is estimated that a total reconstruction would cost $50 million. To replace some concrete slabs in Stow would require about $698K. The expected funding from ODOT could reach $500K, and must be shared with Hudson’s portion of Route 8. Still, this is good news for motorists. Kristina Roegner, our state representative, was critical in getting this done.
Stow’s online checkbook
Thanks to Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel, you can now view Stow’s checkbook online (click here). I highly recommend you spend some time getting familiar with the Web site and its many features. It will be a great tool for citizens to keep their politicians honest.
Fox Den accountability
Councilmember Brian Lowdermilk proposed legislation that will require the administration to account for all of the labor and supplies that are used at Fox Den Golf Course. For the past 10 years, the golf course has chewed up valuable labor and materials from other city departments, but it was never accounted for. When politicians said “Fox Den is making money,” they ignore these contributions from other departments.
Well, if you’re reading this blog, you’re aware that the “making money” claim is phony, because Fox Den’s annual debt payments are not included by people who make that misleading claim. But even without the debt payments, the golf course has likely lost money after you consider the contributions from other departments. Thanks to this legislation, we will know the exact damage of owning a golf course. The taxpayers are entitled to that transparency. It passed 5-2 (Costello, D’Antonio).
Council will meet next on October 8.