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New Franklin Council moves levies to ballot

7/10/2014 - South Side Leader
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By Maria Lindsay

Voters to see renewal, replacement levies in November

NEW FRANKLIN — New Franklin City Council approved two levies for the November General Election ballot, as well as plans for road improvements, at its July 2 meeting.

One levy 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 funds would be used to pay for general operations of the New Franklin Fire Department, including maintenance of fire equipment and apparatus and buildings, as well as salaries and benefits for personnel, according to the legislation.

The second levy seeks to replace a continuing 2.5-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. The levy funds would help to pay for salaries and benefits of New Franklin Police Department personnel, as well as building operations.

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 existing levy would continue to be collected.

Mayor Al Bollas has stated the additional funds the replacement levy would raise are needed to offset about $700,000 taken annually from the General Fund to supplement the Police Department’s $1.7 million budget.

In other business at the meeting, Council approved a resolution to ratify the city’s participation with the Ohio Department of Transportation on the Manchester Road resurfacing project, from the northern city limits to Center Road, with New Franklin to contribute 20 percent of the cost, currently estimated to be $205,517.

City officials also are hoping to make other road improvements in the city through the application for Mitigation and Air Quality Funds from the Akron Metropolitan Area Transportation Study (AMATS), with those funds to be used to help pay for a citywide traffic signal upgrade project.

Bollas explained if the city is successful in obtaining those funds, it would apply for additional grant money from the Ohio Public Works Commission for funds to assist in the $700,000 cost to replace aging traffic signals throughout the city. The work would not begin until sometime in 2016, he added.

“This is warranted,” said Bollas. “All our [traffic] lights are very old.”

Council also approved additional appropriations for the year for the receipt of $26,000 in insurance fire losses and placed four other resolutions on the agenda on time.

One is a resolution to appoint Madison Wolbert, a Green High School senior, as temporary clerk of Council to replace Tami Stefan, who left the city’s employment. In the interim, Council approved a motion to give Finance Director Susan Cooke authority to sign legislation until the appointment is approved.

Also placed on time is a resolution regarding zoning text amendments to Section 800.10 to better define junk and unlicensed vehicles.

The other two resolutions are related to proposed amendments to the city’s charter regarding the finance director’s powers and duties and qualifications. Those amendments are slated to come before voters in the November General Election. The proposed changes will be discussed in a public hearing set for July 16 at 6 p.m. at City Hall, 5611 Manchester Road. The next regular Council meeting also will take place at that date and time.

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