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Engineer’s Office wants to proceed on surface water utility

2/7/2013 - West Side Leader
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By Kathleen Folkerth

DOWNTOWN AKRON — A Summit County Council committee heard more details on the county’s Capital Improvements Program (CIP) during the Feb. 4 meeting.

The Finance Committee heard from Steve Brunot, director of Administration for the Engineer’s Office, who briefly discussed that office’s willingness to move forward on plans to handle surface water in the county.

Councilman Nick Kostandaras (D-District 1) said he has received a lot of calls from constituents who are paying fees because they are located in the part of the county that is in the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District (NEORSD).

Brunot said the Engineer’s Office came before Council a year ago with some preliminary plans to establish a surface water utility in Summit County.

“We’re talking with the Executive’s Office about moving forward at this point,” Brunot said. “It is out there, and we are ready to go. We just need to finish a few things.”

While Brunot did not go into specifics this week, he told Council a year ago that the surface water utility would be overseen by the Engineer’s Office, County Council, the Executive’s Office and the Surface Water Management Board, which would be made up of nine members.

He also said at that time that county property owners would possibly be levied a fee based on how much impervious surface the property owner has. In addition, he had noted the possibility of two separate utility funds — one for the northern part of the county and one for the southern portion — because of different areas of water flow.

Kostandaras said that whatever the county proposes, officials need to work with the Prosecutor’s Office to make sure those who pay fees to NEORSD will not be paying twice. But Brunot said a judge’s order regarding the Summit County property owners in NEORSD stated that if the county develops its own plan, it would replace the NEORSD fee for those affected property owners.

Also regarding the CIP, Mike Weant of the Department of Environmental Services talked about the projects in that department.

Councilman Bill Roemer (R-at large) noted that he and several Council members attended a meeting Jan. 22 in Norton regarding the need for sewers and asked Weant if there was any federal funding for such a project.

Weant said there is very little federal funding for new sewer projects today, and new projects do not qualify under the Ohio Public Works Commission for funding.

“Generally, about the best we can do is partner with somebody to get a grant of federal money administered by the state,” he said. But he added that usually the most that would be given is 50 percent toward a project.

In other business, the Public Works Committee recommended Council approve an ordinance that will return the bridge load limits on the Akron-Peninsula Road bridge over Robinson Run in Boston Township back to its original limit now that repairs have been completed.

Heidi Swindell, of the Engineer’s Office, said the bridge was reopened Dec. 14 and the structure can once again handle a full load.

The committee also recommended a resolution allowing the Engineer’s Office to go out for bids on projects in its 2013 CIP, as well as vehicles and equipment, at a cost not to exceed $10.6 million.

The Planning and Economic Development Committee recommended Council adopt a resolution allowing the Akron Civic Theatre to use office space in the Ohio Building for a period of five years at a cost of $1 a year.

Jason Dodson, chief of staff for County Executive Russ Pry, said the Civic’s staff has been using space at the law office of Hahn Loeser at GOJO Plaza, but the firm now needs it.

Dodson added that the Civic will pay for its own phone and Internet service in the space. The contract will be effective March 1.

County Council will next meet Feb. 11 at 4:30 p.m. for caucus, followed by a regular meeting in Council Chambers on the seventh floor of the Ohio Building, 175 S. Main St.

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