Beacon Journal staff writer
Despite lingering questions from Republican members, the Summit County Board of Elections agreed Tuesday to allow an Akron charter amendment to remain on the ballot.
The charter amendment, approved by Akron City Council for the Nov. 2 ballot, would divert about $13 million in income tax revenue currently devoted to the school construction project to safety forces over the next three years. Council made the amendment contingent on the police union accepting a concessionary agreement.
The 404-member union, which rejected an earlier agreement, voted overwhelmingly to accept a second proposal, with the votes tallied Tuesday morning. The approval means 40 laid-off officers will return to work.
Brian Daley and Ray Weber, the GOP board members, though, questioned whether the contingency was met since the concessions only run through the end of this year and don't speak to subsequent years, when the income tax still would be diverted. The city and police union have agreed to continue with the state fact-finding process to settle contract language beyond this year.
Daley said Akron residents voting in favor of the charter amendment might assume the income taxes would take care of the safety forces, when that might not be the case.
''If voters vote to approve, they are being deluded,'' he said. ''It seems unclear. There are uncertainties.''
Daley and Weber questioned whether board members must review charter ballot language for mechanical problems or just make sure it's clear.
Tim Gorbach, a Democratic board member, said the required contingency has been satisfied. He said the Republicans were ''looking too deep into'' the language and voters have an obligation to research what they're voting on.
Akron Law Director Cheri Cunningham told the board the contingency in the legislation was met with the union's approval of the agreement. She said she will provide board members with a letter stating that.
''The fact finder does not impact the charter amendment,'' she said. ''It has nothing to do with the contingency.''
The Republican board members reluctantly agreed to allow the amendment to remain on the ballot, which didn't require any official action.
''I don't like ambiguity,'' Daley said. ''This leaves something to be desired.''