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New Franklin finance director now full time

4/10/2014 - South Side Leader
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By Maria Lindsay

Plus, mayor brings up possible police levy for discussion

NEW FRANKLIN — City Council voted unanimously at the April 2 meeting to make the finance director’s position a full-time job on a trial basis, effective immediately.

City officials considered the move for several months, after Mayor Al Bollas reported the state auditor suggested it was time for the city to hire a full-time person to handle its $11 million budget and financial operations.

Finance Director Susan Cooke will be paid $48,000 annually, which will be prorated for the amount she has earned to date, according to the legislation. The position will become a full-time job until the end of this year. Cooke had already been receiving benefits, but the move to full-time will increase the city’s contribution to her Public Employees Retirement System pension.

Bollas also noted Cooke was working close to full time for several months due to the workload.

The city’s charter states the finance director, in addition to the law director, are part-time positions “until otherwise determined by the mayor and Council.” The charter was approved by the voters in November 2006 and is under review by the Charter Review Commission for possible updates or amendments to be approved by voters in the November General Election.

Also during the meeting, Council adopted on first reading the city’s annual operating appropriations budget for 2014. The almost $11 budget includes: more than $2.2 million for the General Fund, with $532,025 for administration, $159,000 for Council, $154,000 for zoning, $129,000 for the Law Department and transfers of $650,000 to the Police Department and $310,000 to dispatch (in addition to $362,000 from the dispatch fund); more than $2.1 million for streets and highways; more than $1.7 million for police operations; more than $2.2 for fire operations; more than $1.1 million for the city’s self-insurance fund; and $111,800 for parks, as well as $59,000 for the Franklin Park Civic Center.

In other business, Council approved:

  • the submission of a 2014 Firehouse Subs Foundation grant to cover 100 percent of the cost for nine sets of body armor for Fire Department personnel;
  • an agreement with GPD Group to serve as project manager for the State Road resurfacing project; and
  • the renewal of the 2013 Summit County Emergency Management Agency’s multijurisdictional hazard mitigation plan.

Bollas also discussed with Council three possible scenarios for a police levy.

Earlier in the year, Bollas stated the department has two continuing levies, including a 2.5-mill levy first approved by voters in 1981 that now collects $292,000 annually and a 3-mill levy first passed in 1991 that collects $531,718. Bollas said the Police Department’s budget of $1.7 million has been supplemented by the General Fund for several years now. In 2011, it received $725,000 from the General Fund; in 2012 and 2013, it got $700,000; this year, the amount dropped to $650,000.

“It’s time to do something,” said Bollas.

Bollas presented information from Summit County Fiscal Officer Kristen Scalise outlining what an additional levy for the Police Department would bring in. According to those numbers, a 1-mill levy would raise an additional $308,556 for the Fire Department and cost the owner of a $100,000 home $35 in new taxes annually. A 2-mill levy would generate $617,113 and cost the owner of a $100,000 home $70 more annually; and a 3-mill levy would raise $925,669 and cost that same owner $105 more in taxes annually.

A suggestion also was made to replace the current 2.5-mill levy. Replacing it would increase its revenue from $292,000 to about $770,000, according to city officials.

Bollas asked Council for direction on the matter, and Law Director Tom Musarra suggested legislation on a levy should be submitted to Council as a starting point for more discussion on the matter.

New Franklin also has a 5.75-mill fire levy that will expire Dec. 31 and collects $1.7 million annually.

Bollas also told Council he has received a proposal from the city’s trash aggregation hauler, Republic Services Inc., that includes service with a new 59-gallon roll-out recycle bin for an extra cost of 43 cents per month, and with that service to be offered every other week. He also said Republic wants to extend the contract until 2031. The current contract still has 33 months left.

City officials decided to review the information further as Coventry must also be included since they partnered with the city on its plan more than one year ago.

The next regular Council meeting will take place April 16 starting at 6 p.m. with committee meetings, followed immediately after with the regular Council meeting, at City Hall, 5611 Manchester Road.

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