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County Council members not interested in meeting time change

10/25/2012 - West Side Leader
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By Kathleen Folkerth

DOWNTOWN AKRON — Summit County Council approved its meeting schedule for 2013, but one Council member’s interest in changing meeting times was not met with much interest.

Council currently meets for committee meetings at 4:30 p.m. and regular meetings at 5 p.m. on alternate Mondays. Councilman Bill Roemer (R-at large) said he thinks those times are difficult for constituents to attend meetings.

“In the absence of live streaming or public access, I think its important our meetings are at 7 or 7:30 [p.m.], like other communities in Summit County,” Roemer said.

Councilman Frank Comunale (D-District 4) said the meetings are at the time they are because county employees — who make up a good portion of the audience at meetings because they must present to Council — begin their day at 7:30 a.m. Councilman John Schmidt (D-District 2) noted that if meetings were later, the county would be paying overtime to some employees who must attend the meetings.

Roemer said he believes a later starting time would lead to greater participation from the public, but Councilwoman Paula Prentice (D-District 8) said when hot topics are before Council, people show up.

“When we have major issues, we get a crowd,” she said.

Following the meeting, Roemer said Cuyahoga County Council had to consider a meeting time when it formed due to the county’s change to a charter government, and after considering an afternoon time decided to go with 6 p.m.

Council passed the motion approving its schedule for next year, but Roemer voted against it. The schedule sets Council’s organizational meeting on Jan. 2 and moves its summer recess early in the season to mid-June.

In other business, Council adopted:

• an ordinance that amends the county’s bridge load ratings to impose a 25-ton load limit on the Riverview Road bridge over Furnace Run in Cuyahoga Falls and to impose a 40-ton load limit on the Wright Road bridge over Pigeon Creek in Copley, as recommended by County Engineer Alan Brubaker’s office due to repairs needed;

• a resolution authorizing County Executive Russ Pry to execute a settlement agreement for all claims arising from two lawsuits regarding the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District;

• an ordinance that would allow the county’s Executive, Fiscal and Engineer offices to execute a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to consolidate the county’s various geographic information systems (GIS) functions under one department called the Planning and Geographic Information Systems Division;

• a resolution authorizing the renewal of agreements with communities using the Summit County Sheriff’s Office’s direct indictment officer services, including Akron, Copley and Norton. The five-year contracts cost the communities $345,191 annually, according to the legislation, which pays the salaries and benefits for four full-time and three part-time officers.

Also Monday, Council continued its annual budget hearings in anticipation of the county’s budget process for 2013. Representatives from Internal Audit, Juvenile Court and Probate Court presented.

Summit County Council will next meet Oct. 29 at 4:30 p.m. for committee meetings in Council Chambers on the seventh floor of the Ohio Building, 175 S. Main St.

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