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Akron Council looking over 2013 budget

3/7/2013 - West Side Leader
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By Stephanie Kist

Also, Council hears from Aeros’ GM, owner; passes resolution supporting Medicaid expansion

Akron City Council members received the annual appropriation ordinance March 4 and is expected to vote March 11 on adopting the 2013 operating budget, which currently stands at $481.7 million.

The 2012 operating budget was $502 million, according to city officials.

“There were a lot of challenges in 2012 and a lot of accomplishments,” said Finance Director Diane Miller-Dawson during the Budget and Finance Committee meeting.

She said that a $2 million reduction in local government funding and the elimination of estate taxes will affect this year’s budget.

There was no discussion on the budget legislation at the Council meeting. It is intended for passage next week.

In other business, Council unanimously approved a resolution introduced by Councilwoman Linda Omobien (D-at large) that expresses support for the expansion of Medicaid to individuals with incomes up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level.

Omobien said the expansion could affect between 22,000 and 26,000 people in Summit County. It would extend coverage to the working poor and provide additional access for those in need of alcohol, drug addiction and mental health services, she said.

The legislation is intended to send a strong message of support to the Ohio legislature and Gov. John Kasich, she said.

“It’s the right thing to do for individuals who need health care,” Omobien said. “This is really important.”

Also at the meeting, Council heard from Ken Babby, the new owner of the Akron Aeros, and new General Manager Jim Pfander.

Babby said coming to Akron and starting a “brand-new life” as owner of the team has been the “most challenging and most exciting time in my professional career.”

He spoke enthusiastically about the coming season, which will feature 71 home games starting April 4. Canal Park will offer the largest video board in minor league baseball, he said, along with a new concession menu, $2 hotdogs every day and $5 tickets.

Babby told Council members he is available to attend ward meetings to talk about what the organization will be doing in Akron.

“We’re deeply passionate about what this will mean for downtown,” he said. “We are investing hard into Akron.”

“It’s going to be a whole new ballgame this year at Canal Park,” summed up Pfander, a West Akron native and graduate of Archbishop Hoban High School.

The next Council meeting will be March 11 at 7 p.m. in City Council Chambers on the third floor of the Akron Municipal Building, 166 S. High St. Committee meetings are set to begin at 2 p.m. that afternoon, also in Council Chambers.

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