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Fairlawn city officials honor former Councilman

3/27/2014 - West Side Leader
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By Sean Patrick

Former Fairlawn City Councilman James Butler returned for Council’s March 24 meeting to hear the reading of a resolution in gratitude for his service to the city.

Council unanimously passed a resolution honoring the former Ward 1 Councilman March 10, but Butler was unable to attend that meeting. On March 24, the resolution was reread and a number of city officials fondly recalled their time working with Butler, who served on Council from 1996 through the end of 2013.

Council President Russ Sharnsky (at large) read the resolution, which extends “the gratitude and best wishes of the city of Fairlawn on the retirement of James Butler as Ward 1 Councilman.”

“I had no idea I was so popular in the city of Fairlawn,” Butler joked. “Thank you for this generous award. I appreciate it very much.”

Butler said he has a lot of fond memories of his time on City Council.

“I truly enjoyed my 18 years sitting in one of those chairs. It’s a great town, and I’ve enjoyed my 38 years living here,” he said. “You will always be in my thoughts, and I will come to visit you every once in a while to make sure you are doing OK.”

Also at the meeting, Council unanimously passed an ordinance establishing an annual budget for 2014 following a third reading.

Assistant Finance Director Patricia Bertsch said the 2014 permanent budget for the General Fund is $105,000 less than the final 2013 budget.

“The General Fund pays for police, fire, service, parks and pretty much all of the administrative services,” she stated. “That’s basically our operating budget.”

The total net budget passed by Council amounts to about $18.3 million.

“We’re passing a very conservative budget,” said Mayor William Roth. “The personnel we’ve hired is to fill in vacancies; it’s not additional personnel.”

Council also unanimously approved a resolution authorizing the city engineer to prepare plans, specifications, cost estimates and obtain bids for Fairlawn’s 2014 concrete slab replacement and storm water inlet repairs project.

“This is in addition to our normal street repair program,” Roth said. “This is for broken water lines and things like that.”

Sharnsky said passage of the resolution does not commit the city to spend any money, but gives city officials the ability to seek bids for the work.

In his report, Zoning, Housing & Residential Building Commissioner Chris Randles said the city’s Community Improvement Corporation recently purchased two vacant houses and his department has been working with the organization to have the buildings demolished.

“I found a pair of charitable organizations that we can donate some building materials to,” he said. “Paws & Prayers, an animal shelter, came in, and they were able to take some building materials out last week. And this week, Habitat for Humanity’s going to be coming in, and they will take down the remainder of the usable building materials to build houses.”

In addition, Randles noted, the Fairlawn Fire Department will be able to do some training in the houses.

“They’ll be setting up some smoke machines and cutting holes in the roofs and ceilings,” he said. “They will be able to utilize those houses for training before they are demolished.”

According to Randles, one of structures is located on Ridgewood Road and the other is on Erie Drive.

Fire Chief Russ Hose reported his department has purchased and put into service new gas meters.

“They actually detect five different gases,” he said. “It’s time that we finally got these. And the best part is that I had budgeted $14,000 for two meters and they came in at $9,000, saving us $5,000. We’re happy to have them. They’re simple to use, and the cost to operate them is less than what we’ve had before.”

The next Fairlawn City Council meeting is set for April 7 at 6:30 p.m. at Fairlawn City Hall, 3487 S. Smith Road. The next Committee-of-the-Whole meeting is scheduled for March 31 at 6 p.m. in City Hall.

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