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Community News

County Council alters meeting time

1/10/2013 - West Side Leader
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By Kathleen Folkerth

DOWNTOWN AKRON — The idea of changing its meeting times comes up with Summit County Council about once a year. It came up again at Council’s first meeting of the year Jan. 7, and this time Council voted to make a change.

Councilman Frank Comunale (D-District 4) sponsored a motion to change the time of Council’s regular meetings from 5 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. It was adopted by a vote of 8-3, with members Tim Crawford (D-District 7), Gloria Rodgers (R-District 3) and Bill Roemer (R-at large) against it.

Council meets most Mondays, with the exception of federal holidays and scheduled breaks. It alternates between committee meetings, which have started at 4:30 for many years and at which legislation is discussed, and regular meetings, where legislation is introduced and adopted by the full Council.

Comunale said he sponsored the motion because he would like Council’s meetings to be consistent. He also said that because most of those who attend Council meetings are county employees, whose workday ends at 4:30 p.m., it makes sense to have meetings at that time.

Roemer, who has urged Council to consider moving its meetings to a later time to accommodate constituents and members who work until 5 p.m. or later, spoke out against the change.

“We need our meetings later rather than earlier,” he said. “This limits the availability of people to serve on Summit County Council. If you have a full-time job, you can’t serve.”

But his colleague Sandra Kurt (D-at large), who does work full time, said she didn’t think the earlier times cause a conflict for most.

Council President Jerry Feeman (D-District 6) said he asked Council staff to look into the issue of start times when it came up a couple of months earlier. What they found is that across the state, most county officials meet during the day, many as early as 9 a.m.

But Rodgers said in most of those cases the county commissioners are full-time county employees. Summit County is one of two charter governments in the state and its Council members are not considered full time.

Nick Kostandaras (D-District 1) said he believes having one single meeting time is more consistent.

“People are confused between the regular meetings and committee meetings,” he said. “To have them start at the same time is the way to do it.”

Also during the meeting, Council adopted a resolution supporting Summit County Children Services (SCCS) with its decision to terminate a contract with Kraiger Construction for the Blazey Visitation Center project.

In 2012, the company started work on the center, but SCCS officials have said it was not completed and some of the work was poorly done.

Deborah Matz, director of Law for the County Executive’s Office, said another contractor was brought in to complete the job and the center was opened Dec. 10. The playground will be completed when the weather allows, she added.

Also Monday, Council heard first reading of several pieces of legislation including a resolution authorizing the Executive’s Office to execute a lease with Bath, Copley, Fairlawn and Norton for a P25 radio system on a tower located on the Fairlawn Municipal Complex property on South Smith Road.

Also, resolutions regarding grants to the Summit County Historical Society, for $51,000; the Summit Soil and Water Conservation District, for $171,900; and the Development Finance Authority of Summit County, for $75,000, were introduced.

In other news, Council met for its organizational meeting Jan. 2, at which Feeman was again chosen to serve as president by a vote of 9-2. He was the sole nominee. Paula Prentice (D-District 8) and Kostandaras were nominated for vice president, with Prentice earning the spot by a vote of 7-4, according to Council staff.

District Council members and Kurt (who was appointed to her seat and had to run in the Nov. 6 General Election to fill the unexpired term) were sworn in during the meeting as well. Probate Court Judge Elinore Stormer swore in Kostandaras, John Schmidt (D-District 2), Tamela Lee (D-District 5), Feeman, Crawford, Prentice and Kurt. Ninth District Court of Appeals Judge Clair Dickinson swore in Comunale. Rodgers was sworn in by Summit County Common Pleas Court Judge Tom Parker.

County Council will meet for committee meetings Jan. 14 at 4:30 p.m. in Council Chambers on the seventh floor of the Ohio Building, 175 S. Main St.

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