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Norton Council considers appointees to new Equalization Board

10/31/2013 - West Side Leader
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By Julia Kazar

Appointments to a new board designated to hear objections to assessments for the sewer project in Nash Heights was discussed during the Norton City Council meeting Oct. 28.

During the meeting, Mayor Mike Zita presented Council members with a list of names he recommended for what is known as the Assessment Equalization Board. The individuals recommended include: Ron Schaffer, Mark Spicer and Donna Rizor Longfellow, with an alternate being Lance Apple.

“I tried to be as fair in these recommendations as possible,” Zita said. “There are men and women, old and young and representatives from nearly every ward in this list.”

Councilwoman Charlotte Whipkey (at large) said one of the residents recommended had made negative comments about the city of Norton and the sewer project on social media.

“People who are coming before this board deserve a fair hearing,” Whipkey said. “I don’t think this individual will be able to do that with her bias.”

Councilman Todd Bergstrom (Ward 1) said it’s impossible to know everyone’s personal feelings about this project and how it would affect their role on this board. He asked the mayor if it would be possible for all potential representatives to write a brief statement about what they feel their responsibilities and duties are while in this position, to give Council a better understanding of how they will conduct themselves if appointed.

Zita said he will contact all the potential candidates and try to get Council more information.

“This is an opportunity for us to show our sincerity with the appointing of these board members,” Bergstrom said. “We need to take our time before making any decisions.”

Once the board is established, it will listen to objections from residents on the estimated assessments on their property in regards to the Nash Heights Sanitary Sewer Improvements-East Phase Project and decide if they are fair and reasonable, according to Norton Law Director Peter Kostoff. They then will make their recommendation to City Council, and Council will make the final decision.

This was the first reading of this ordinance, and it will be read at least one more time before Council members vote.

Council also unanimously approved a resolution expressing support for Issue No. 42, a 3.89-mill bond issue on the Nov. 5 ballot that would allow the Norton City School District to build a new high school and close two of the its oldest buildings.

“In spite of all the city issues we’re currently dealing with,” Bergstrom said, “this is one thing we can all come together and support. And a strong school helps to build a strong community, something I think we all want.”

Council also approved a resolution of appreciation for City Administrator Richard Ryland, who resigned from the position he’s held since 2007. His last day will be Nov. 8. According to city officials, Ryland plans to move to Florida with his wife.

A search for Ryland’s replacement has started, according to city officials. If a new city administrator is not hired by Nov. 8, Zita would handle the position’s duties on a temporary basis, according to city officials.

In other business, Council:

  • approved an ordinance authorizing and directing the payment of $800 to Police Chief Thad Here for completing a physical fitness test authorized by the Ohio Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association with a vote of 7-0. According to Councilman Bill Mowery (Ward 3), the chief finished in the 60th percentile; and
  • approved a resolution to determine the amount to be moved into the 128 Fund, or the Water and Sewer Improvement Fund, with a vote of 7-0. The amount that will be transferred is about $689,673 and comes from the incremental amount of taxes paid from the change in tax credit.

Council next will meet for a work session Nov. 4, with a special Council meeting to follow. Council’s next regular meeting will be Nov. 11. Both meetings will start at 7 p.m. in Council Chambers at the Safety-Administration Building, located at 4060 Columbia Woods Drive.

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