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New Franklin Council eyeing charter change

6/12/2014 - South Side Leader
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By Maria Lindsay

Change deals with finance director qualifications

NEW FRANKLIN — The city’s Charter Review Commission, assigned to review and recommend any changes to New Franklin’s charter every five years, presented its recommendations to New Franklin City Council after completing its most recent review last month.

The commission, consisting of seven members appointed by Mayor Al Bollas and approved by Council in January, included: John Perduyne, chairman of the original Charter Review Commission, whose members were elected in 2005; Robin Aikey, vice chair of the original commission; retired Fire Chief Perry Surgeon, a member of the original commission; Eric Roberts, a member of the first commission in 2008; Bill Hunter, a member of the original commission; Carol Adamson, member of the original commission; and Joe Parsons, a former at-large Council member, who served as chairman.

At the June 4 meeting, Council President David Stock (Ward 3) said the commission’s report suggested only one change is needed — to Section 6.03, regarding the finance director.

The commission recommended the finance director, regarding qualifications, have knowledge of accounting, taxation, budgets and financial control as demonstrated by experience, education of both; not hold any other public office … other than a delegate role in a political party, serve as a notary public or as an officer in the military reserve or National Guard, serve in an office position or other capacity to further intergovernmental cooperation, and may hold any office permitted by this charter, ordinance or resolution and the laws of Ohio.

This proposed change removes the requirement for a finance director to have an undergraduate college degree in accounting or related field and a minimum of five years of experience that includes two years each in municipal or governmental accounting and a management or supervisory position.

Less substantive changes also were made regarding the finance director’s powers and duties: to serve as head of the Finance Department and as the municipality’s fiscal officer; be responsible for the collection, disbursement and custody of all funds and establish and maintain records and procedures necessary to perform his/her duties; and perform all other duties performed by municipal auditors and treasurers under the general laws of Ohio and other functions relevant to the Finance Department.

At the Council meeting, Finance Director Susan Cooke called the proposed changes “disconcerting” because they include no specific education requirements or experience needed for the position.

Council is expected to review the proposed changes over the next several meetings and decide whether to submit them before voters for approval. The changes are due to the Summit County Board of Elections by Aug. 6 in order to be placed on the November ballot.

In other business, Council continued to review legislation to place two levies on the November General Election ballot.

One is the renewal of a 5.75-mill fire levy, which expires Dec. 31 and collects $1.7 million annually. The levy costs the owner of a $100,000 home $173.58 annually. The issue does not represent new taxes or an increase, according to city officials.

The other is the replacement of an existing 2.5-mill police levy. The replacement — suggested instead of renewing a 2.5-mill levy first approved in 1981 and which expires Dec. 31 and collects $292,000 annually — would instead collect $771,391 annually, according to city officials. The replacement levy would cost the owner of a $100,000 home $87.50 annually, which city officials said was a 62 percent increase from the current $33.13 property owners pay annually for the existing levy.

Bollas has stated the extra funds are needed as the General Fund has been used to supplement the Police Department’s budget of $1.7 million by $725,000 in 2011, $700,000 in 2012 and 2013, and an expected $650,000 this year.

Two other pieces of legislation placed on time include proposed zoning code changes to Section 1400.02 to clarify the definition of litter and to Section 800.10 to refine the definition of a junk/unlicensed vehicle. Both items are scheduled for further discussion in a public hearing set for June 18 at 6 p.m. at City Hall, 5611 Manchester Road.

During the mayor’s report, Bollas announced Manchester Road between the Coventry line and Center Road will be resurfaced this fall. Bollas also said the city plans to apply for an Akron Metropolitan Area Transportation Study grant to place a new traffic signal on Manchester Road between John and Renninger roads.

The next regular Council meeting is set for June 18 starting at 6 p.m. at City Hall.

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