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County formally opposes higher truck weights

3/21/2013 - West Side Leader
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By Kathleen Folkerth

DOWNTOWN AKRON — Summit County Council on March 18 officially opposed a proposal to increase the allowable truck weight on some Ohio roads.

Council unanimously voted to adopt a resolution in opposition to Substitute Ohio House Bill 35 and Ohio House Bill 59, which reallocates the Commercial Activity Tax (CAT) in the state, as well as increases the maximum truck weight from 80,000 pounds to 90,000 pounds.

Heidi Swindell, of the Engineer’s Office, said that office opposes the weight change because larger trucks are more dangerous and cause more wear and tear on roadways.

“We certainly aren’t the only ones opposed to this,” she said, noting that village and city mayors have come out against the change across Ohio. “I can’t think of one single county engineer who is for this proposal.”

She added that the proposed changes in the CAT would mean that money collected would go to the Ohio Department of Transportation and the Ohio Public Works Commission, rather than directly to counties.

The Ohio House passed HB 35 Feb. 28, and the issue then went to the Ohio Senate’s Transportation Committee, on which Sen. Frank LaRose (R-District 27) sits. Councilman Bill Roemer (R-at large) said he was in contact with LaRose’s office and was told the senator is trying to get the language to which Council is opposed removed from the Senate Bill.

Swindell said the language has been removed from the Senate version, but there is a chance it could be restored in the conference committee.

Also Monday, Council adopted a resolution allowing a contract with the city of Akron to provide homeless prevention services from April 1 through Sept. 30.

Steve Zimmerman, assistant director of administration and finance for the department of Job and Family Services, told the Health and Human Services Committee a week earlier that the $175,000 contract would see the county use Temporary Assistance for Needy Families funds for programs already administered by the city to help those who are close to becoming homeless.

Council also adopted a resolution allowing a contract with Mature Services to provide adult and dislocated worker employment services from this April through June 2014 at a cost of $260,750. Zimmerman said last week that 175 clients ages 50 and older would be served through the program.

In addition, Council adopted a resolution declaring the month of March as Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month in Summit County.

Council President Jerry Feeman (D-District 6) also noted during the meeting that he and Councilman Tim Crawford (D-District 7) met with new Summit County Sheriff Steve Barry recently. The sheriff planned to host meetings March 20 and 27 for Council members to meet him and his staff and hear about changes to the office.

Councilwoman Paula Prentice (D-District 8) talked briefly about her time at the recent National Association of Counties Legislative Conference in Washington, D.C. She told her colleagues she has information on topics such as block grants and the farm bill.

County Council will next meet for committee meetings March 25 at 4:30 p.m. in Council Chambers on the seventh floor of the Ohio Building, 175 S. Main St.

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