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County Council considering $6.7 million in capital projects

1/17/2013 - South Side Leader
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By Kathleen Folkerth

DOWNTOWN AKRON — Summit County Council is considering $6.7 million in projects in the county that are part of the Capital Improvements Program (CIP) for 2013.

During its Jan. 14 meeting, the Finance Committee heard from Brian Nelsen, director of Finance and Budget for the County Executive’s Office, about a resolution that would see adoption of the CIP for 2013-18 and for the projects slated for this year.

Nelsen said many of the items in 2013 are for routine maintenance of county facilities. The largest project is nearly $2.9 million for the county’s Pavement Maintenance Program.

Other big-ticket items include improvements for the Department of Environmental Services (DOES) at nearly $435,000. Vehicles are also included, with $600,000 for the Engineer’s Office, $502,000 for DOES and about $112,000 for the Sheriff’s Office.

Roadway Engineering and Construction will be allotted $365,000, while regional storm water basins and county ditches will be addressed with $150,000.

The committee placed the resolution on second reading only so members could look over the CIP in more detail.

During the Public Works Committee meeting, members recommended Council move forward on a resolution authorizing the county to execute a Cooperation Agreement with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) regarding a project to rehabilitate the Harrington Road Bridge in South Akron.

Heidi Swindell, of the Engineer’s Office, said emergency repairs were made to the bridge in 2012, but further improvements are necessary. The agreement will allow the project to become part of an already planned project to improve the Tuscarawas River Diversion Dam, an ODNR project, at a cost to the county of about $414,000.

Swindell noted that no construction for the project would take place during the World Golf Championships Bridgestone Invitational July 31 through Aug. 4.

Also during committee meetings, members recommended Council approve several requests for grant funding for local agencies and nonprofits.

The Planning and Economic Development Committee recommended a $75,000 grant for the Development Finance Authority of Summit County, formerly known as the Port Authority. Jason Dodson, chief of staff for the County Executive, said the annual grant used to be a higher amount, but it has remained at the current amount for several years.

President Christopher Burnham said since restructuring the agency in the past year, the authority has been able to offer a new source of capital for development projects in the form of New Market Tax Credits. He added that an announcement would be coming soon on another type of financing new to the county.

“We’ve had a pretty good year,” Burnham said.

Councilman Nick Kostandaras (D-District 1) said he has heard from colleagues in the County Commissioners Association of Ohio that the work being done through the authority in Summit County is something unique and beneficial.

The Finance Committee recommended Council adopt a resolution authorizing a grant to the Summit Soil and Water Conservation District for $171,900, as well as a $51,000 grant for the Summit County Historical Society (SCHS) for operating costs this year.

“We have appreciated the opportunity to collaborate with the county,” said SCHS Executive Director Leainne Heppner. “We provide many activities for residents and educational opportunities for children and adults.”

The Planning and Economic Development Committee also recommended Council adopt a resolution allowing a lease with U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan (D-District 13) for office space at the county’s site at 1030 Tallmadge Ave. at a cost of $1 a month.

In other business, the Public Safety Committee recommended Council approve contracts for cleaning supplies, automotive repairs and gasoline for the Summit County Sheriff’s Office but learned that new Sheriff Steve Barry would soon be re-evaluating all of the office’s contracts to find savings.

“We have a meeting scheduled Thursday to look at contracts and pricing,” said Randy Briggs, of the Sheriff’s Office. “We will be looking at other vendors.”

Council will not meet Jan. 21 due to the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday. Council will meet Jan. 28 at 4:30 p.m. for caucus, followed by the regular meeting in Council Chambers on the seventh floor of the Ohio Building, 175 S. Main St. in Downtown Akron.

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