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Cuyahoga Falls to join county economic development group

6/25/2009 - West Side Leader
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By Becky Tompkins

A local community’s attracting a new business is good news for Summit County — but not if the business was enticed to move from another area community.

Preventing such economic “poaching” is the purpose of Summit County’s intergovernmental “Memorandum of Understanding for Job Creation and Retention and Tax Revenue Sharing,” which Cuyahoga Falls City Council passed unanimously at the June 22 meeting.

The city joined Akron, Barberton, Fairlawn, Lakemore, Macedonia, Mogadore, Twinsburg, Richfield Village and Silver Lake, which have already signed the agreement.

Council approved the new agreement despite misgivings by members about the vagueness of the language and certain conditions. Connie Krauss, Summit County’s director of Community and Economic Development, was on hand to answer questions.

The language was left purposely vague, she said, because “we want communities to talk to each other.” The county plans to have all the signatories meet in August or September to refine some of the vague stipulations, she said.

The incentive to approve the agreement now despite misgivings about the details is that the county will give communities that sign before the end of the fiscal year, June 30, 5 percent additional points on grant applications for state funding, such as SCIP/LTIP (State Capital Improvement Program/Local Transportation Improvements Program) and Community Development Block Grants.

Under the agreement, the community that an employer or business relocates to from another county community will have to share revenues with the previous community if 1) the business that left either had a minimum $3.5 million annual payroll or constituted at least 5 percent of the income tax revenue of that community, or 2) the business that left benefited from some economic incentive or financial bonus from the new community.

The agreement spells out how much revenue must be shared each year. There is a penalty for breach of the agreement, Krauss said, if a community entices a business to relocate.

Falls Law Director Virgil Arrington agreed the language was “fuzzy,” for instance on what constitutes an economic incentive. But he said the idea of regional economic cooperation is good and he would be glad to “help clean up the language.”

Krauss said a community that signed the resolution before June 30 to get the grant bonus points could withdraw from the agreement later if it did not agree with the refinements that will be worked out at the August or September meeting of signatories.

In other business, Council unanimously voted to enter into contracts to demolish the State Road Shopping Center. All of the ordinances passed at the meeting were done on an emergency basis, which allows them to be sent to Mayor Don Robart for his signature the next day, instead of the standard 30-day wait for nonemergency legislation.

Also approved was an agreement with the Ohio Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association that was arrived at with the help of a fact finder. The union members will receive the same raises (2.5, 2.25 and 2.25 percent for the next three years, respectively) as the other police groups agreed to, Arrington said, and the same health insurance with an increase in the deductible. The union “overwhelmingly” ratified the agreement last week, Arrington said.

Council members also authorized paying a “moral claim” to residents Eric and Angela Davis. The Davises own a rental property whose electricity was mistakenly turned off by the city, so the water pipes burst, resulting in $2,300 worth of damage to the property.

Council also authorized the mayor to enter into a Community Reinvestment Area Agreement with Juzo Investment Ltd. and the Parks and Recreation Board to enter into contracts to upgrade various swimming pools throughout the city.

City Council will gather for committee meetings July 6 at 6:15 p.m. at the Cuyahoga Falls Natatorium, 2345 Fourth St., and for a regular meeting July 13 at 6:30 p.m., also at the Natatorium.

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