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County Council raises questions on storm water solutions

11/21/2013 - West Side Leader
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By Kathleen Folkerth

DOWNTOWN AKRON — In response to questions from local residents about flooding after heavy storms, Summit County Council members asked officials from the county Engineer’s Office during a Nov. 18 budget hearing how the issue can be tackled.

Steve Brunot, director of administration for the Engineer’s Office, presented the office’s budget and said the office has proposed creating a storm water utility in the county.

“The problem is, how do we fund all these storm water issues out there?” Brunot said, noting the lack of a funding source to adequately address the problem. “As it stands right now, it’s a difficult process.”

Council members Nick Kostandaras (D-District 1) and Ilene Shapiro (D-at large) expressed concern with the number of residents who have contacted Council members after becoming frustrated with ongoing problems in their neighborhoods. Recently, Copley Township residents spoke before Council, and this week residents from Sagamore Hills raised issues.

Jason Dodson, chief of staff for County Executive Russ Pry, said putting together a plan is not easy because of constraints of the Ohio Revised Code, but added the issue is being worked on.

Council also heard from Fiscal Officer Kristen Scalise during the budget hearing for her office. She said the office currently has 155 employees, down from 209 in recent years.

The Fiscal Office is in the midst of its sexennial appraisals of 230,000 residences in the county, Scalise added. This is being done with nine staff members, a reduction from 18 staff members who conducted the site visits last time, she said.

During the Finance Committee meeting, members heard about a first reading passage request that would be before them in the next meeting regarding the county’s natural gas aggregation program. Buckeye Energy Brokers conducted a request for proposals for the program and found that the best rate is from Constellation Energy. Dodson said the county plans to move forward on a 20-month contract with a fixed price of $4.17 per thousand cubic feet (Mcf). The county’s current rate is $5.393/Mcf with Direct Energy, which chose not to submit a bid.

Also during the meeting, the committee recommended Council adopt a resolution confirming an award of a five-year contract for legal advertising of sheriff’s sales and foreclosures with the Akron Legal News, with two five-year options to renew.

Before moving forward, the committee heard from attorney Clair Dickinson, representing the Akron Beacon Journal. Representatives of the daily newspaper once again asked the committee to allow the county to reissue the request for proposals (RFP) and more clearly state that rebates were desired.

Dodson said county officials met with Beacon Journal representatives last week but maintained that allowing the contract to be bid again is not fair and would set a negative precedent.

County Council will meet for a regular meeting Nov. 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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