On Tuesday July 26th the Suffield Township trustees met at the appointed time and usual place. After an hour of hearing Kelly Austin's presentation on risk management, the trustees should have been happy to get back to the real business of governing the township. But instead, they were faced with a number of complex problems, none of which have easy solutions.
Trustee Jeff Eldreth motioned that the township award Perrin Asphalt the contract to pave Palm Road, from Trares Road to Randolph Road, at the cost of $76,000. He mentioned that the chip & sealing this year would cost about $60,000 to $70,000, or about $30,000 less than had been budgeted for. Only because of this savings did the township have sufficient funds to go forward with the Palm Road project. There was a complaint of speeders on Martin Road, a mention of a series of thefts in the area, brush and trees growing out of control in East Lawn Cemetery, the continuing problems with yards that need mowed and a couple houses that are abandoned, or at least condemned, that need to be demolished. It was noted by trustee Dave Vartenuk that the house on Carriage House Lane that has sat unfinished for more than two decades is now set for Sheriff's Auction early in August.
As if the above wasn't enough to grow gray hair on the heads of the township leaders, the most important issue of the evening was how to stretch the budget to cover expenses. Fiscal Officer Lori Calcei said that the Road Department budget and the Fire Department budget are in good shape, but the General Fund budget is problematic and has been for the last several years. In order to make it through 2016 with enough carryover money of the first quarter of 2017, some funds needed to be rearranged. Normally, the salaries of the Fiscal Officer and the trustees are paid from the General Fund account, but after a vote by the trustees tonight, one third of the salary paid to the trustee (Tom Calcei) who oversees the Fire Department will come from the Fire budget, rather than the General Fund. The same will happen to the salary of the trustee (Jeff Eldreth) overseeing the Road Department. Two thirds of the Fiscal Officer's salary will come from both the Road and Fire Department budgets. This measure was deemed necessary in order to make sure enough money was carried over to pay township salaries and bills in the first quarter of 2017. Projections showed that the Fire and Road Department budgets were sufficiently funded, but the General Fund was lacking. Lori Calcei said that the township is currently spending about $181,000 per annum on General Fund expenditures, which is down substantially from past years. She further acknowledges that she and the trustees have made changes to the payroll, cut the police expenditures, and cut everything else down to the bones. Chairman Tom Calcei pointed out that the township receives less funding from the State of Ohio in areas such as, but not limited to: elimination of the "death tax" and reduction of general assistance funds.
Another issue that the trustees reluctantly agreed upon was to put a one mill levy on the November 1st general election ballot. In order for this to occur the trustees were forced to vote on the issue tonight, as ballot issues must be submitted to the Board of Elections at least ninety before the affected election date. A one mill levy will generate $136,000 per year for the township according to Portage County Auditor Janet Esposito.
Among other things discussed, Tom Calcei said that Bill Steiner of the Portage County Solid Waste Management told him they would still accept resident's cards on the recycling issue until August 1st. Thus, as your opinion matters, you can still send in your poll card. Due to a variety of reasons, if the township were to decide to go with curbside recycle pickup, it wouldn't begin until at least November at the soonest according to Steiner. The township is hosting the Portage County Township Association quarterly dinner meeting in August. Hard as it is to believe, former trustee Dave Polen reserved a pavilion at Wingfoot Lake State Park about a year ago, but the park double booked the pavilion that was to be used for the event. The dinner meeting had to be moved to the Suffield United Church of Christ.
Also mentioned was the Pretty Glen Dam, which is known to some as the Hills Pond Dam. This Portage County owned dam has generated much talk around Suffield and with the county commissioners for the last year or so. Local resident and chief proponent of keeping the dam is John Yeargin, who has attended meetings with the commissioners concerning whether the dam should be repaired and maintained, or removed completely. This dam, which was built in 1938, is clearly visible from North Cleveland Avenue (Route 532), just north of the Mogadore Village limits. Initial estimates to remove the dam were quoted last year at about $50,000, but recently an engineering firm hired by the county commissioners has changed that figure to about $1.6 million to remove the dam and about $1.5 million to repair it. Yeargin pointed out that the pond created by the Pretty Glen Dam is the source of water for a Suffield Fire Department hydrant and provides a peaceful setting for about twelve residential properties that line the pond in Suffield Township. He also said that simply removing the dam would create a mucky bog of sludge that has been accumulating for about 80 years. It is also believed that the old West's Mogadore County Club, that was purchased last year by the Testa Companies for a residential/commercial development, includes plans that would include development on the south side of the Pretty Glen Pond. There will no doubt be more meetings on this hot topic, but in the meantime the trustees will be keeping a close eye on what is transpiring.
The trustees meet again on August 9th at 8:00 PM. The Board of Zoning Appeals have no hearings scheduled and the Zoning Commission does not meet in August. The trustees also rescheduled their August 23rd meeting until August 30th at 8:00 PM.