By Rick Armon
Beacon Journal staff writer
Summit County Council candidate Bill Roemer is pledging to donate half his government salary to charity until the county approves a balanced budget without raiding reserve funds.
Roemer, a Republican and retired Ameritech sales director, also said he won't accept county health benefits if elected.
Council members will make about $23,900 next year, not including benefits.
''As a public servant, the idea is you serve the public. You're not served by the public,'' Roemer said Tuesday. ''It's just another way of giving back.''
Roemer, 54, of Richfield said he would let the public decide which charity or charities would receive the money.
He is one of six candidates running for three at-large seats this fall. The others are incumbent Democrats Pete Crossland, Jon Poda and Ilene Shapiro, and Republicans Gloria Rodgers and Amy Schwan.
The county must do a better job of living within its means and cutting wasteful spending, Roemer said.
In addition to laying off workers, requiring unpaid furloughs, buying out employees and raising fees, county leaders have dipped into reserve funds for several years to balance its general fund. For example, last year the county used about $16 million to plug a budget gap.
The county had planned to use $4.7 million in reserves this year.
Because of higher than expected revenues, current projections show the county will need only about $500,000. The hope is that revenue, such as sales tax, grows and no reserve funds will be used, said Brian Nelsen, county finance and budget director.
Roemer's offer to adjust his potential council salary isn't unusual.
Councilman Tim Crawford, a Democrat, voluntarily cut his pay by 10 percent for this year and 2011 to help trim spending. Other County Council members agreed to reduce their pay this year by 1.9 percent.
Rick Armon can be reached at 330-996-3569 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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