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Council reviewing four ballot issues

6/26/2014 - South Side Leader
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By Maria Lindsay

A new electronic sign that will be used for notices to residents is now up and running at the New Franklin Fire Station on Manchester Road.
Photo: Maria Lindsay
NEW FRANKLIN — At the June 18 meeting, New Franklin Council discussed four resolutions, including two levies and two changes to the city’s charter, that will come before voters in the Nov. 4 General Election.

One levy to be placed on the ballot is a request for voters to renew a 5.75-mill fire levy that expires Dec. 31. The levy generates more than $1.7 million annually, which is used for general operations, according to city officials. The issue is not a new tax.

The second levy seeks to replace a continuing 2.50-mill police levy. The existing levy collects $292,000 annually for general operations, according to city officials. By replacing it, the levy would instead collect $771,391 annually, city officials said.

Mayor Al Bollas has stated the additional 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.

The replacement levy would cost the owner of a $100,000 home $87.50 annually instead of the $33.13 they currently pay. City officials have explained that if voters fail to approve the replacement levy, the continuing levy would continue to be collected.

Both requests are due to the Summit County Board of Elections by Aug. 6 to be placed on the November ballot, according to Law Director Tom Musarra.

The two resolutions related to the proposed changes to the charter involve the finance director and a section regarding qualifications and a section regarding powers and duties. The changes were suggested by the Charter Review Commission, which recently completed its review as required by the city’s charter.

The change to the qualifications for the finance director position seeks to make that requirement “less stringent,” according to commission member Carol Adamson.

If approved by voters, the change would require the finance director to: have knowledge of accounting, taxation, budgets and financial control as demonstrated by experience, education or both; and not hold any other public office … other than a delegate role in a political party, 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 the charter, ordinance or resolution and the laws of Ohio.

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

The proposed change to the powers and duties is a refinement of the wording, according to city officials. If adopted by voters, that change would have the finance director serve as head of the Finance Department and serve as the municipality’s fiscal officer; be responsible for the collection, the disbursement and custody of all funds and establish and maintain those 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.

Musarra said at the meeting that city officials have until Sept. 6 to forward the proposed charter changes to the Board of Elections for placement on the ballot.

In other business, New Franklin Council approved one change to the city’s zoning code and continued to review another after public hearings on the proposed changes were held that evening.

One of the proposed zoning code changes seeks to refine the definition of junk/unlicensed motor vehicles residents may keep on their properties. Initially, the change aimed to include junk, dismantled, wrecked, inoperable or unlicensed vehicles stored on a trailer or covered with a tarp or other cover, according to the legislation. However, after some communications with residents, Council learned that definition would include off-road “mudders” and vehicles used for racing, both of which are unlicensed and often trailered to a location for their intended use.

No one spoke at the public hearing regarding the proposed change, and Council decided to take time on the ordinance to make some changes that would exclude mudders and vehicles used for racing in the definition.

Another proposed zoning code change seeks to expand the definition of litter to include fixtures, lumber, bottles, cans, glass, ceramic, paper, rags, wire, metal parts, plastic materials, vehicle parts and components, tires or any other rubber material, drums and barrels.

No one spoke in support of or in opposition to the proposed change during the public meeting, and Council adopted the ordinance unanimously during its regular meeting.

Council also adopted a resolution to apply for grant funding under the Community Oriented Policing Services Hiring Program. If successful, the city would get up to $125,000 over three years to pay 75 percent of the entry-level salaries and benefits for new police officers. The city would have to retain the new officer(s) for one year at their own cost following the conclusion of the grant, according to the legislation.

Also at the meeting, Councilman Paul Adamson (Ward 1), who serves on the Tudor House Advisory Council, reported the Advisory Council is reviewing the rate structure for the Tudor House, a 20-room mansion used for weddings and other functions and located on the west shore of West Turkeyfoot Lake, due to a decrease in rentals this year. The rates had been raised last year. Adamson said they also are continuing to consider the construction of a pavilion on the property.

For additional information about the facility, visit www.newfranklin.org and click on “Tudor House” on the top banner.

Council adjourned into executive session to discuss pending litigation and personnel, with no action taken afterward.

The next regular Council meeting will take place July 2 starting at 6 p.m. with committee meetings, followed immediately afterward with the regular meeting, at City Hall, 5611 Manchester Road.

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