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Tax levy for storm-water plan proposed

By admin Published: November 23, 2010

Rick Armon
Beacon Journal staff writer

Summit County Engineer Al Brubaker is proposing a new tax levy to start a countywide storm-water management program.

Brubaker, who has been studying the storm-water issue, submitted his recommendation Monday to the County Council and County Executive Russ Pry.

He also is asking the council for permission to spend $46,090 to hire Lorain County Community College and the University of Akron to begin researching and planning the program.

Brubaker estimated that it would cost about $3.6 million to do a study and launch the effort, which would tackle flooding, erosion and water-quality problems in the county.

Why is a storm-water plan needed?

''The fact is it rains,'' Brubaker said, eliciting chuckles from council members and the audience.

The engineer submitted a 15-page report containing his recommendation to oversee the program and raise money through a tax levy. To fund the initial effort, he suggested a possible 0.5-mill levy, which would raise about $6 million a year.

Having the engineer manage the program would provide more accountability for taxpayers and reduce administrative costs, the report says. Other options included creating a storm-water district or utility.

''Summit County has reached the point where inaction with regard to storm-water management is not an option,'' the report says. ''We cannot lament the inaction of prior administrations to address a growing concern and take action to approve adequate funding when economic times were more favorable.''

Council members Ilene Shapiro and Nick Kostandaras said they favor doing a study. But Shapiro added that it's premature to talk about how to pay for the program until the study is completed.

Jason Dodson, Pry's chief of staff, declined to comment, saying the administration had not yet reviewed the report.

In other business, Councilwoman Gloria Rodgers announced she won't vote in favor of reappointing Beth Curley and Susan Tucker to the county Children Services Board. Both attended the council's Personnel Committee to discuss their possible reappointment.

Rodgers said she couldn't support them considering they recently approved a new, ''excessively generous'' contract for Executive Director John Saros.

The contract called for an $8,000 raise. Saros, who now earns $145,000 a year, also receives some of the best perks in the state, according to a Beacon Journal study, including a monthly car allowance, eight weeks' vacation, extra taxpayer-funded pension benefit and incentive bonuses.

The board approved that deal at the same time it's telling taxpayers that it will have to increase its next levy request, Rodgers said.

''This is unacceptable from my perspective,'' she said, adding that she thinks Saros ''has done a wonderful job.''

Curley and Tucker said the contract was given to them at the last minute for approval and they didn't negotiate it. Tucker added that the board felt it had to approve the deal or Saros would leave.

''I wish it had gone a little bit more smoothly,'' Curley said about the process.


Rick Armon can be reached at 330-996-3569 or rarmon@thebeaconjournal.com.
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