Here are my notes from last night’s council meeting…
Live video – We experimented with using Facebook Live at last night’s meeting. For those of you who are not tech-savvy, Facebook Live allows someone to provide a live video feed, from their phone, to the rest of the Internet. With the help of a skilled videographer (my wife), we captured several videos (click here to see them). Hundreds of people who follow my Facebook page watched the meeting as it happened, in real time. If you click here, you can “like” my Facebook page, and you’ll be notified (if you want) when live videos are happening in the future.
Police Annual Report – One of these videos was Lt. Snively, who provided the Stow Police Department’s annual report. You can click the link above to watch his video. You can click here to view the actual written report. Here are some key takeaways:
- 2015 saw a 13% increase in calls for service, and a 13% increase in serious crimes. The department arrests about 5 people per day on average.
- The busiest month for the department was May. The busiest day of the week was Friday. The busiest time of the day was 4 p.m.
- There was a 17% increase in traffic crashes. In 2015, the department issued 2,960 traffic citations and gave 5,109 warnings.
- There was a stunning 83% increase in juvenile crimes, and a 40% increase in the caseload for our diversion program, Stow Youth Services.
- There were 20 serious crimes per 1,000 Stow residents. In Akron, that number is 53; Barberton, 41; Kent, 20; and Hudson, 6.
School Lease – I held a committee meeting to discuss the school lease. It is apparent that there will be an opposition by at least 2 council members and at least 2 school board members. For example, Brian Lowdermilk said he wants a shorter term of the lease (10 years, instead of 20), shorter termination period (6 months, instead of 2 years), and he wants an estimated cost of the school district’s build-out of the City Hall wing. In the coming weeks, we will attempt to organize a tour of the space subject to the potential lease, for a joint meeting of the council and school board. Overall, we are still in the information-gathering process, and I think it’s too early to say whether the lease will be adopted by either party.
Memorial Day – I wish everyone a happy Memorial Day weekend. On Monday, I will emcee the annual Memorial Day ceremony at the cemetery across from Holy Family. It begins at 10:15 a.m. It will be my first time as emcee, and I will be honored to do so. Memorial Day is always a time for me, personally, to remember my friend Joe Tomci who gave his life in service of our country.
Next Meeting – Council will meet next on June 9.
Here are my notes from Thursday evening’s meetings:
School district lease – This was the big topic. The city and school district have preliminarily negotiated a lease of one wing of City Hall to the Stow-Munroe Falls School District, consisting of 2,627 sq. ft., plus common areas of 5,827 sq. ft., which includes all meeting rooms. Annual rent will increase from $34K to $59K over the course of the 20-year term. We will pay for the first $20K of the district’s cost in building out the space, which will include installation of a security system. But the district will contribute to 10 years of capital improvements at City Hall, with payments of $50K and $75K over the next two years. Thereafter, capital projects at City Hall (such as a new roof) will be prorated on a 88% (city) to 12% (school district) ratio. That same ratio will be used to apportion utility costs to the tenant. I have some concerns, but we are addressing them internally. Overall, as a real estate attorney, I can tell you it is a commercial-style lease with market terms. Next steps: The school board will simultaneously consider the proposal. Naturally, both the board and city council must approve.
Service building project – The Service Department asked council to spend $170K to enclose a garage and add some facilities at the Service Building. The facilities would be used by employees in the water department. I toured the facility, and the project can be justified. However, we are planing to run a budget deficit in 2016, so every expenditure comes with added scrutiny (at least from my perspective). I voted in favor of Brian Lowdermilk’s successful amendment, which reduced the project cost by $40K by eliminating the employee facility. I also made my own motion to ensure that the $130K in funds would not come from our Capital Improvements (i.e., roads) Fund. My amendment also passed. The limited project was then approved by a 5-2 vote (Lowdermilk, Adaska voted “no”).
Council will meet next on May 26. I plan to add an exciting new element to my blog post for that meeting, so stay tuned!