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County Council approves 2014 budget

12/12/2013 - South Side Leader
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By Kathleen Folkerth

DOWNTOWN AKRON — Summit County Council approved the county budget for 2014 with just a slight increase over last year during the Dec. 10 meeting.

According to Brian Nelsen, director of Finance and Budget for the county, the budget for 2014 stands at $478.4 million, slightly more than last year’s budget of $476.6 million.

He added that the General Fund will be nearly $102.7 million, a slight increase from 2013’s $102.4 million.

Nelsen also estimated the county will need to use about $1.1 million in reserves to balance the budget next year.

While there have been some signs of improvement in the economy, such as increases in sales tax collections, Nelsen said the county is not close to returning to the budget it had five years ago. In 2008, the county’s budget was $576 million and the General Fund was $122 million, Nelsen said.

The county also had more employees at that time. Nelsen said there were about 3,600 full-time employees then, compared to 2,939 now.

The budget passed this week did not include budgets for the three levy-funded agencies — the Developmental Disabilities Board; Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services Board; and Children Services Board. A separate resolution was passed last month adopting those budgets.

Also during the meeting, Council adopted a resolution allowing the county to increase an order with Wellness IQ for FitBit zip and flex pedometers that are part of a new health care program offered to employees.

Wendy Weaver, deputy director of Employee Benefits, said the program has had a lot of interest, with about 500 employees purchasing the devices to track their activity. The county subsidizes the cost of the pedometers partially, Weaver said.

Council also adopted a resolution authorizing a temporary easement to the city of Green for a parcel on Lauby Road. According to Department of Environmental Services officials, there is a pump station at the site, the intersection of Lauby and Greensburg roads, which is slated for construction of a roundabout.

In addition, Council adopted a resolution allowing the county to apply for Federal Surface Transportation Program funds through the Akron Metropolitan Area Transportation Study. Among the projects on the list of 22 that could receive funding are a $9 million safety upgrade for Canton Road and the $10 million Phase VI improvement project on South Main Street in Coventry, according to officials from the Engineer’s Office.

Also during the meeting, the last one for Council this year, Councilman Nick Kostandaras (D-District 1) was honored with a proclamation from County Executive Russ Pry which declared that day as Nick Kostandaras Day due to Kostandaras’ recent appointment as president of the County Commissioners Association of Ohio.

His colleagues gave Kostandaras, of Richfield, a standing ovation. He commented he was pleased that several of his colleagues attended the swearing in the previous day in Columbus.

“I heard a lot of nice comments regarding Summit County,” Kostandaras said.

Summit County Council will next meet for its annual organizational meeting Jan. 2 at 4:30 p.m., followed by committee meetings, in Council Chambers on the seventh floor of the Ohio Building, located at 175 S. Main St. in Downtown Akron.

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