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County consumer protection gets attention

3/6/2014 - West Side Leader
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By Kathleen Folkerth

DOWNTOWN AKRON — Summit County Council heard an update on the county’s Consumer Affairs Office and its efforts to assist citizens during the March 3 meeting.

Chris Verich, who was named deputy director of the office last year, spoke about the office’s goals in his first year at the helm. He said he aims to give residents timely and accurate information about scams.

“There’s a lot of scams out there people need to know about,” he said. “It’s out there and it’s going to get worse.”

He added that the office receives calls daily from local residents with consumer complaints. The No. 1 issue residents complain about is automobile transactions, Verich added.

He also told Council members he is happy to give presentations on consumer issues at district meetings in the county.

During the meeting, Council adopted a resolution that declared the week of March 2-8 as National Consumer Protection Week. Verich said he planned to be part of a special event March 5 in Springfield with representatives of the Better Business Bureau.

The office can be reached at 330-643-2879 or consumeraffairs.summitoh.net.

In other business, Council adopted a resolution on first reading that will allow the Engineer’s Office to go out for bid on projects as part of the 2014 regional pavement maintenance program. Projects are expected to cost about $2.5 million in this, the third year for the program that combines projects throughout the county in an effort to get better pricing.

This year, Akron and Norton are again part of the bidding, and Fairlawn and Peninsula may join, according to Heidi Swindell, of the Engineer’s Office. In addition, Bath and Copley are among the townships taking part.

Swindell added that Fairlawn’s potential participation would be for part of the planned resurfacing of Ridgewood Road this year.

According to calculations from the Engineer’s Office, it’s estimated that communities save 7 percent by partnering with the county on the program, Swindell said.

“Anywhere we can save money is great,” said Councilman Jerry Feeman (D-District 6)

Council also adopted on first reading a resolution approving this year’s annual meeting for county and township authorities with the Engineer’s Office. It will take place May 6 at Tangier, Swindell said. The cost is estimated to be $3,500 for the meeting, which is required by Ohio Revised Code, she added.

In addition, Council adopted on first reading a resolution allowing a new contract with Wadsworth Veterinary Hospital for veterinarian services at Summit County Animal Control at a cost of $60,000 for a year.

Jason Dodson, chief of staff for County Executive Russ Pry, said the contract covers the cost of spay and neuter services for animals that come into the facility, as well as other medical needs. The amount of the contract was reduced by $5,000 from last year because there has been a decrease in the number of animals that have been brought into the shelter, he added.

Dodson did say that adoption numbers are still consistent even with that reduction.

Council also adopted the Capital Improvements Program for 2014-19. The resolution had been amended to remove $100,000 set aside for regional storm water/county ditches as the county and township work to come to a solution, according to Dodson.

The plan appropriates $8.2 million for projects this year, according to the legislation.

Council will next meet for committee meetings March 10 at 4:30 p.m. in Council Chambers on the seventh floor of the Ohio Building, located at 175 S. Main St.

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