HUDSON: The city of Akron, which last year stopped extending its water service to new residential and business customers in Hudson, now is threatening to shut off water to existing customers until a tax-sharing agreement is reached.
In retaliation, a Hudson councilman on Tuesday night proposed his city withdraw from an unrelated countywide tax-sharing initiative.
The two issues aren’t strictly tied together, but Councilman Alex Kelemen said both agreements “involve Akron and they are both about cooperation, collaboration and mutual economic benefit. We can’t continue an agreement involving Akron about cooperation and collaboration on the one hand, while the Akron mayor threatens everyone with a shutoff on the other.”
The main issue: Akron’s attempt to get Hudson to sign a long-term agreement that would share taxes from new businesses served by Akron’s water system.
Akron provides water to about one-quarter of Hudson.
In a Feb. 7 letter to Hudson Mayor William Currin, Akron Mayor Don Plusquellic said Hudson is the only holdout to Akron’s years-long effort to negotiate water agreements with surrounding communities.
Plusquellic said he has extended water to new projects — from the building of Hudson High School in 1990 to the more recent Trails of Hudson apartment complex — on the word of officials that they would work out a standing agreement.
He said that in the case of Hudson High School: “After the water was turned on, the elected officials bragged about duping me.”
“After 25 years, this stalling, insincere and unethical behavior has to stop,” Plusquellic wrote.
Akron is refusing new water connections, and “I may be forced because of the ‘me too’ clauses in our contract to send a complete shut-off notice to you,” he wrote to Currin.
Kelemen said he’s done with the Akron mayor trying to strong-arm a tax-sharing agreement.
“This has forced owners of new homes to obtain variances to drill water wells at the cost of more than $5,000 per home and had driven away new businesses and the tax revenue they provide,” Kelemen said.
He said Hudson has agreed in principle to Akron’s terms, and the city has in hand Hudson’s version of a water agreement submitted in September.
In answer to Plusquellic’s threat, Kelemen suggested Tuesday that Hudson withdraw from the unrelated Summit County Job Preservation Agreement.
That pact was started in 2009 amid a countywide debate on business poaching sparked when Hudson offered incentives to lure a company from neighboring Macedonia.
Communities that sign the memorandum of understanding agree to share income tax revenue for up to five years when a company moves from one signatory to another.
The county requires a 180-day notice to opt out of the agreement, so Kelemen suggested doing just that.
“Should Akron and Hudson come to terms in the next six months to continue to provide Hudson residents with Akron water, we may void our notice of termination with the Summit County agreement,” he said.
Economic Development Director Chuck Weide said Hudson receives about $80,000 a year through the county initiative.
Councilman David Basil said it seemed that leaving the pact would “cut off our nose to spite our face” and without resolving the water issue.
Council cut off further discussion on the matter until an official proposal is made, which Kelemen might advance at a future meeting.
City spokeswoman Jody Roberts said the city has been asking to meet with Akron since September. No date has been set.
Paula Schleis can be reached at 330-996-3741 or firstname.lastname@example.org.