County Council sends message to state politicians
By Kathleen Folkerth
DOWNTOWN AKRON — Summit County Council members sounded off to Ohio’s General Assembly on mayor’s courts and games of skill parlors in legislation passed at its Aug. 20 meeting.
Council adopted a resolution that opposes House Bill 154, which was introduced in April. The bill aims to incorporate mayor’s courts into the judicial system under the authority of the Ohio Supreme Court. In communities with more than 1,600 residents, a community court would be created, while communities of fewer than 1,600 people would have no court.
Locally, mayor’s courts
are operated in Fairlawn, Norton,
Peninsula Village, Richfield Village, Boston Heights,
Macedonia and Northfield.
Council members discussed the
issue briefly after Councilman John Schmidt (D-District
2) questioned the need for the legislation.
“These mayor’s courts,
we’ve read about them,” Schmidt said, adding
that some say the courts have “become quaint and
“You are right to some
degree,” replied Council President Nick Kostandaras
(D-District 1). “Some municipalities have operated
harshly, but the money received in municipalities like
Boston Heights and Peninsula is used for operating expenses.”
Councilman Tim Crawford
(D-District 7), who sponsored the legislation along
with Kostandaras, said his experience as mayor of Norton
showed him the courts are valuable for smaller communities.
“This is a way of solving
local problems,” Crawford said.
The resolution was adopted along
with other legislation on the list of routine legislation
unanimously agreed to by committee.
Council heard first reading of
another resolution, sponsored by Kostandaras and Councilwoman
Paula Prentice (D-District 8) that asks the General
Assembly to address the growing number of businesses
with skill-based amusement
machines by clarifying the definition of the games and
providing a statewide agency to administer and regulate
them, or by outlawing them altogether.
There was no discussion on the
resolution during caucus. Following the reading of the
resolution, Pete Crossland (D-at large) indicated he
thought Council should vote on the issue that night.
It was unanimously adopted, with Council members John
Poda (D-at large) and Dan Congrove (D-District 6) absent.
According to the legislation,
in 2003 the state excluded the electronic games from
legislation regulating gambling machines. It further
states “the current provision for skill-based
amusement machines under Ohio law is unmanageable, creating
an administrative nightmare for local officials and
wasting valuable taxpayer resources that only benefits
the manufacturers and proprietors of these machines.”
In other business, Council adopted
an ordinance that will levy a 1 percent tax increase
for hotel guests in the county. The increase will result
in a total tax of 14.75 percent for guests in Akron,
which proponents said is a lower rate than Ohio’s
other large cities. The new rate will be in effect Nov.
The 10-year tax is expected to
generate about $550,000 a year. It will be used for
improvements to the John S. Knight Center in
Downtown Akron, such as new heating and ventilation
systems and carpeting.
Summit County Council is scheduled
to meet for committee meetings Aug. 27 at 4:30 p.m.
in Council Chambers on the seventh floor of the Ohio
Building, 175 S. Main St.