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Akron Council endorses ballot issues

10/10/2013 - West Side Leader
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By Stephanie Kist

Presentation of single resolution for issue support sparks dissent

Akron City Council Oct. 7 placed its support behind four ballot issues that will appear on the Nov. 5 General Election ballot, but the vote was not without preceding controversy.

Council approved a resolution stating its support of Issue Nos. 1-4. Issue Nos. 1-3 are levy renewals for, respectively: the Summit County Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services (ADM) Board; Metro Parks, Serving Summit County; and the Akron Zoo. Issue No. 4 is a proposed amendment to the Akron city charter that would allow the city to donate its Recycled Energy System (RES) steam and chilled water heating and cooling utility to Akron Children’s Hospital.

A few Council members said there should be four separate resolutions, rather than a single resolution stating support for the four issues. The resolution was offered by Mayor Don Plusquellic.

Councilwoman Linda Omobien (D-at large) stated that she would need to abstain from a vote supporting the ADM Board, as the agency she works for — Community Support Services — contracts with that entity, presenting a conflict. Because there was a single resolution declaring support for the four issues, she would not be able to vote to support Issue Nos. 2-4.

“I would like to show my support,” she said.

Councilman Michael Williams (D-at large) said he supported the issues and the resolution, but lodged his “minor concern” that there should be, in the future, individual resolutions for each issue in case a Council member would need to abstain or register an adverse vote.

“I would like these separated now, not next time,” said Councilman Bruce Kilby (D-Ward 2), one of the harsher Plusquellic critics on Council, who in August voted against placing the RES issue on the ballot in the first place. He asked Plusquellic why the issues were together in one resolution.

Plusquellic responded that it was for “marketing” purposes because the four issues are all important for the future of Akron.

“What we’re trying to do is put together a package to say they’re all needed,” he said.

Kilby was unconvinced.

“They’re separate issues really,” he said, and he made a motion that the issues be presented in four separate resolutions of support. Omobien seconded the motion, but only Williams and Councilman Russel Neal Jr. (D-Ward 4) voted with them.

In the vote on the resolution, Kilby voted “no,” and Omobien and Councilman Mike Freeman (D-Ward 9), who sits on the board of the Community Health Center, which also is supported by the ADM Board, abstained.

In other business, Council:

  • authorized the issuance and sale of notes in a maximum principal amount of $6 million, in anticipation of the issuance of bonds, to provide funding for the Cascade Plaza and Cascade Parking Deck improvement projects. Council also approved a development agreement with FirstMerit Corp. related to the project. Earlier this year, the city announced that FirstMerit has agreed to provide financing for the construction. The project to update Cascade Plaza, which was built in the 1970s, is intended to provide a park-like green space that will be accessible to the public. Reconstruction of the deteriorated Cascade Plaza is an incentive offered by the city to keep FirstMerit headquarters in Akron;
  • approved application for and acceptance of the fiscal year 2014 High Visibility Enforcement Overtime Grant from the Ohio Department of Public Safety. This year’s grant is for nearly $62,000, and it will be used to fund overtime for officers to target speed, DUI and seat belt usage violations in high-fatality-accident areas of the city; and
  • approved an almost $30,000 purchase of a dehumidifier system for the CitiCenter Athletic Club to dehumidify the pool and spa areas.

Due to the Columbus Day holiday, there will be no Council meeting Oct. 14. The next meeting will be Oct. 21 at 7 p.m. in City Council Chambers on the third floor of the Akron Municipal Building, 166 S. High St. in Downtown Akron. Committee meetings are set to begin at 2 p.m. that afternoon, also in Council Chambers.

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