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Norton moves ahead with Assessment Equalization Board

11/14/2013 - West Side Leader
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By Julia Kazar

NORTON — Norton City Council approved appointments to a new board designated to hear objections to assessments for the sewer project in Nash Heights during the Nov. 11 meeting.

The Assessment Equalization Board will hear objections relating to the construction of the Nash Heights Sanitary Sewer Improvements-East Phase Project and make recommendations to Council for their consideration and official rulings.

At the Oct. 28 meeting, Mayor Mike Zita presented Council members with a list of names he recommended for the Assessment Equalization Board. The individuals he recommended included: Ron Schaffer, Mark Spicer and Donna Rizor Longfellow, with Lance Apple as an alternate.

At the Oct. 28 meeting, Councilwoman Charlotte Whipkey (at large) had said she was uncomfortable with one of the names suggested for this board and asked if more people could be considered.

Councilman Todd Bergstrom (Ward 1) asked at the Oct. 28 meeting if more information could be provided about the candidates before a decision was made.

Prior to the Nov. 11 meeting, Zita provided Council members with responses to a brief survey he asked all of the candidates to take. The questions asked had been discussed at an earlier work session and were to help Council members find out more about the candidates and why they wanted to be on the board.

Whipkey told Council she had a name she wanted to add to the list of potential candidates, Shelly Leach to replace Schaffer. Unfortunately, due to some miscommunication, Leach was unable to fill out the survey as the others had, according to city officials.

Whipkey moved to amend the ordinance to name Spicer, David Anderson and Leach to the board, and to keep Apple as the alternate. Anderson was nominated after Longfellow stepped down.

Council members voted 5-1 in favor of this amendment and the ordinance, with Councilman John Conklin (Ward 4) casting the only dissenting vote. Councilman Bill Mowery (Ward 3) was not present.

“I think we have a board that will serve in the best interest of the people,” Bergstrom said.

According to Council Clerk Karla Richards, she has provided residents in the Nash Heights area with their estimated assessments for the project, and five homeowners have responded and asked for a meeting before the board to determine if their assessments for the sewer project are fair and accurate. Now that the board has been established, Richards said she will contact the parties and set up meeting dates and times. After the board has heard the homeowners’ cases, they will make a recommendation to Council members for the final decision.

Council also approved an ordinance to amend the nonbargaining salary rate for the Council clerk with a vote of 6-0 and the administrative assistant with a vote of 5-1, with Whipkey casting the only ‘no’ vote.

“I think this person would be getting too much for the work that is being produced,” she said. “I don’t support this.”

With approval, the pay for both positions will increase $2 an hour, retroactive to the first pay in January 2013, according to the legislation.

In other business, Council:

  • approved a resolution of appreciation for the service of Bergstrom as a City Council member. He did not run for re-election Nov. 5.
    “It has been a pleasure to work with you,” said Council President Don Nicolard (Ward 2). “You have done a wonderful job as Council member”;
  • approved an ordinance to amend the 2013 budget with a vote of 6-0. Council also heard a presentation for the 2014 budget, which will be discussed in further detail at next week’s meeting. Nicolard urged residents to contact Finance Director Laura Starosta if they have any questions about the proposed budget; and
  • heard a first reading for an ordinance regarding a shared service agreement among Norton, Barberton and Copley Township for the Southwest Summit Council of Governments Board. If the ordinance is passed by the two cities and township, the board would be able to spend funds for equipment for a shared dispatch center between the three communities, according to city officials. According to Zita, if approved, the service would be up and running in January.

Council next will meet for a work session Nov. 18 and for its regular meeting Nov. 25, both at 7 p.m., in Council Chambers at the Safety-Administration Building, 4060 Columbia Woods Drive.

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