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County Council OKs raises for Clerk of Courts staff

6/13/2013 - West Side Leader
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By Kathleen Folkerth

DOWNTOWN AKRON — Employees in the Clerk of Courts offices are the next Summit County workers to get pay raises after several years of going without.

Summit County Council approved 2.5 percent raises for the office’s classified nonbargaining staff, about 80 employees, at its June 10 meeting after hearing from Clerk of Courts Daniel Horrigan about the issue during the Personnel Committee meeting.

Horrigan said the raises are the first since 2008 and the money, about $70,000 for this year, will come from Title funds and not the county’s General Fund.

He added that when he became clerk about seven years ago, county officials challenged him to find ways to increase revenue in the office, and he said he has done that by offering additional services.

“Our office is doing very well,” he said. “The No. 1 reason people leave is money. At some point, it’s up to me to look after these employees and make sure they are fairly compensated.”

Horrigan has talked to Council previously about his concerns that staff members leave for other county jobs that pay better, some of them between $5,000 and $7,000 more a year.

He added that the office is doing more due to state mandates but has 10 less employees than it had when he took the job as clerk.

Also Monday, Council adopted on first reading a resolution regarding a six-month policing contract with the Akron Metropolitan Housing Authority and the Summit County’s Sheriff’s Office that will reflect a reduction in the number of deputies patrolling properties.

Detective Bill Holland of the Sheriff’s Office said the previous contract was for four deputies and three vehicles, but the new contract is for two deputies and two vehicles. Public Safety Committee Chairman John Schmidt (D-District 2) said the reduction is due to the federal sequester. The contract amount is $102,133.

Council also adopted a resolution regarding a contract with Winbourne Consulting to conduct a feasibility study at a cost of $49,732 on a combined Summit County and Akron dispatch center. The study will look at how a combined center could improve efficiencies, as well as what other local communities could join, according to Lori Pesci, of the Division of Public Safety. She added there are currently 14 primary and one secondary dispatch centers in the county.

Council heard from concerned citizens on issues during its meeting, which was the last for several weeks as Council takes its annual summer recess.

West Akron resident Anna Davis, an employee of East Akron Community House (EACH), addressed Council to ask for help in solving the funding crisis at the agency.

“We are down to the wire,” said Davis, a 13-year employee of the agency. “We want to do something about saving the East Akron Community House.”

Councilwoman Tamela Lee (D-District 5) said Council members are looking into the issues and have had a number of discussions about the status of the agency.

Council also heard from Robert Grow, a member of the Gun Violence Prevention Team of the Summit County Progressive Democrats, about the gun shows that take place at the Summit County Fairgrounds.

Grow said the group would like to see the shows eliminated from the fairgrounds in the next Summit County Agricultural Society contract, which is up for renewal in 2015. He added he attended a gun show there this year and found that semi-automatic rifles were available, as well as hollow tip and flat tip ammunition, “all available without a background check.” Grow also noted that Nazi paraphernalia was sold at the show he attended.

Councilman Frank Comunale (D-District 4) said the issue is one the county is aware of and has looked into. There is a concern with sales taking place outside of the show in parking lots, he added.

Whether or not the county can prevent the shows from taking place is a legal matter, according to John Galonski, of the Prosecutor’s Office. He said section 9.68 of the Ohio Revised Code was passed in 2006, and it prevents local regulations on guns.

Also during the meeting, Council adopted a resolution allowing the county to execute an Ohio Public Works Commission grant application with Richfield Township as the lead applicant for the Hawkins Road improvements project. Richfield Village and Hinckley Township also are taking part in the project. The county would put $30,000 toward the project, as would each of the communities, and the grant funding would provide $1.06 million for the project.

In addition, Council adopted a resolution that allows the county to amend its agreement with Richfield Village to include its additional $10,000 contribution to take part in the Moving Ohio Forward demolition program. The funds will allow the village to address between two and four properties, depending on how much asbestos must be abated.

During the Planning and Economic Development Committee meeting, chair Ilene Shapiro (D-at large) said Cuyahoga Falls officials asked that a resolution regarding the status of Wetmore Road in Boston Township be continued until Aug. 19 as an agreement regarding the road is worked out. The township has asked to vacate the road due to the lack of funds to maintain it.

Council will next meet for a regular meeting July 15 at 4:30 p.m. in Council Chambers on the seventh floor of the Ohio Building, 175 S. Main St.

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