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Council examines pumper purchase

5/29/2014 - West Side Leader
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By Jeff Gorman

In a letter to her colleagues, Richfield Village Councilwoman Barbara Lanford expressed “regret and concerns” over Council’s recent approval of a new fire pumper. The letter was read at the May 20 Council meeting.

Lanford was unable to attend the meeting, but in her letter, she stated that her vote May 6 in favor of the $563,542 purchase from Pierce Manufacturing was “based on information we received verbally, the night of the meeting, that I later found to be incorrect.”

She said nobody gave her incorrect information intentionally, but in retrospect, she would have voted against it “because there is a question in my mind about whether the village is overpaying for what we are receiving.”

Lanford stated that in the future, Council should not forego the three readings before voting on an issue. Council waived the third reading before approving the pumper.

Councilman Mike Lyons said he respected Lanford’s view.

“I voted to suspend the third reading because I felt it was inevitable that we would make that decision,” he said.

Council President Rick Hudak said, “Every once in a while, someone reminds us that a third reading shouldn’t be taken lightly. However, the biggest source of misinformation came from information that Barbara [Lanford] supplied.”

Council Vice President Andy Ellis said the information that was incorrect came from the city of Independence.

“Our administration later got information that was significantly different,” Ellis said. “Everyone acted with good intent.”

Councilman Mike Wheeler said he was “very comfortable” suspending the third reading because he knew that not enough Council members would attend the May 20 meeting. Wheeler also said the village would have to pay a penalty if it did not purchase the vehicle within a 60-day time frame, which would expire before Council’s next regular meeting.

Hudak also said Assistant Fire Chief Phil McLean told him if the village had ordered a pumper through the state purchasing program, “it would be slightly more expensive and not as good a unit. I don’t want anyone to think we didn’t do our due diligence.”

Before the meeting, Council conducted a public hearing on an ordinance that would eliminate use variances from the zoning code.

Planning and Zoning Director Brian Frantz said the Planning and Zoning Commission voted 4-1 against the elimination of use variances. Frantz added that commission member Ralph Waszak, who introduced the legislation last year as a member of Council, had changed his mind and voted against the removal of use variances.

Council did not vote on the ordinance or any other legislation because they had only four members in attendance: Hudak, Wheeler, Ellis and Lyons.

Hudak said implementation of a use variance is uncommon.

“You can probably count on one hand how many times it has been used since 1967, when the village was created,” he said. “It’s not frivolously done. Sometimes a use variance is advisable instead of making text amendments to existing zoning.”

In other news:

  • Mayor Bobbie Beshara said she was “very proud” Richfield was named a Tree City USA for the 19th consecutive year.
    Beshara said even though it “rained like crazy,” hundreds of motorcyclists made the 3095 Freedom Ride from Whitey’s to the Ohio Veterans Memorial Park in Clinton.
    In addition, the mayor said Summit County Executive Russell Pry declared a state of emergency for the storm May 12. She said the Service Department is compiling a list of properties damaged by the storm.
  • Police Chief Keith Morgan thanked Tim Baker and Jennifer Dietrich for helping the department pass an audit conducted by Ohio Law Enforcement Automated Data System (LEADS) inspectors.
  • McLean said the department is working on incident action plans for upcoming summer events.
  • Recreation Director Ruth Jocek said the dedication ceremony for the new playground in the Town Hall area is scheduled for June 22.
  • Finance Director Sandy Turk reported April income tax collections were down 1.4 percent from last year. For the year to date, collections are up 1.2 percent over 2013, she stated.
  • Beshara said the village advertised for summer internships for the recreation and administration departments on The University of Akron website. The interns will be paid $8.50 per hour.

Council will conduct a special meeting tonight, May 29, at 6:30 p.m. at Town Hall to handle some time-sensitive matters. The next regular meeting is scheduled for June 3 at 8 p.m. at Town Hall, 4410 W. Streetsboro Road.

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