I hope everyone had a great Memorial Day weekend. I spent a lot of time on the golf course, on a boat, and with friends and family. Very enjoyable. I always enjoy the Memorial Day ceremony at the Kent Road cemetery. Jim Costello did a great job as emcee.
My notes from Thursday's meeting of Stow City Council are below:
It is very likely that our law director, Brian Reali, will be deployed to Afghanistan through the Ohio National Guard. It will be his third deployment, and it would probably last between 7 and 10 months. To adjust for this, we will be increasing hours for two part-time attorneys in our law department. I sought to amend the legislation, so that their hours automatically revert to the previous amounts upon Reali's return. The amendment and the legislation passed unanimously.
I offered a motion to hire a firefighter, which unanimously passed. As I described last week, we need to hire a firefighter to stay within compliance for the federal SAFER grant.
We had an interesting debate regarding the separation of powers within Stow's branches of government. Two weeks ago, Mary Bednar and Brian Lowdermilk suggested that the storm-water management fund should not pay for the entire cost of a leaf collector -- that some expense should come from the capital fund. The Director of Budget and Management, John Earle, said council does not have the power to direct which funds we used. So we asked for a legal opinion. The legal opinion agreed with Earle, but it did not include a memorandum or any specific citations to case law. Therefore, it didn't convince me. I agree with Lowdermilk and Bednar; council certainly may specify which funds are used. The "power of the purse" is broad, and there is no authority to suggest there is a limit in this situation.
The city plans to engage an independent contractor for engineering work. The agreement, as originally drafted, created a "for cause" relationship (as opposed to being terminable at-will). I asserted that this is unacceptable, given the nature of an independent contractor. I made an amendment to that effect, which passed unanimously. The legislation also passed 7-0.
Judge Todd McKenney addressed council about a program that the Probate Court is running to save people legal fees. If the deed to your home is not a "joint survivorship" deed, then you could be forced to put the home through probate court when one owner dies. About 33 percent of homes in Summit County have this problem, and it is unnecessary, as Judge McKenney pointed out. In the future, Stow will have the chance to help facilitate its residents to getting this problem solved. If you have a home with this joint survivorship issue, the city or the court will send you a letter in the future to help you address it.
City council will meet next on Monday, June 11 with committees. Before that, Matt Riehl and I will hold our monthly open hours at 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday, June 5. We will be happy to answer questions or just to chat.