CITY GOVERNMENT Council wants tax on ballot



Applications for council clerk will be accepted until March 14.
GIRARD -- City council members still are not sure why a 0.25-percent income tax for the police department didn't get on the May primary ballot, but they want to make sure the additional tax is placed in front of voters soon.
During Monday's regular meeting, members of the council's employee welfare committee said they plan to meet at 4 p.m. Thursday to discuss placing the tax on the ballot. Members of the committee said they want to make sure that the police department is properly funded.
Council had voted Jan. 24 to place the tax on the May ballot. The five-year additional tax would raise about $400,000 annually, said Mayor James Melfi. However, the deadline to place issues on the ballot was Thursday, and the issue was not filed with the Trumbull County Board of Elections.
Whose responsibility?
The mayor and city law director Mark Standohar said it's the clerk of council's responsibility to file the paperwork with the board. Council members are not sure why the paperwork was not filed. The council clerk, Pam Mayoras, resigned last week. She stated in a letter that in her seven years as clerk she never filed anything with the board of elections.
"I generally gave the copy to the auditor and he filed, or the law director filed. If neither one of them wanted to file they could have informed me that they did not want to do it so that I could have filed it," Mayoras' letter states. "And furthermore, if the 0.25 percent income tax was so important to getting us out of fiscal emergency, why didn't anyone follow up on it to make sure that it was filed?"
Standohar responded that it was neither the law director nor the auditor's responsibility to file or check on the legislation. "The obligation to have this filed rests clearly on your shoulders," Standohar told council members. "Council and its clerk are responsible."
Council members did not respond to Standohar's comments. Council, however, did announce they are accepting applications for the clerk's position. The deadline to submit an application for the part-time position is March 14. Applications should be sent to city hall.
Other business
In other matters, council met with Kathy Anderson of the Army Corp. of Engineers before Monday's meeting to discuss the dam on Lower Girard Lake.
Anderson said she is willing to revise the engineers' report on the dam to state it could be lowered in an effort to address safety concerns. "Lowering the dam would reduce the size of the lake and make the area safer," Anderson said.
In order to revise the report, she needs a letter from council or the mayor stating that if it costs more than $2.5 million to lower the dam the city will share in the cost. The letter is nonbinding.
The city is in fiscal emergency and doesn't have the money, Melfi said. He noted that he will send the letter once it is approved by the city law director. John Moliterno, an at-large city council member, said they have already sought help from U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan of Niles, D-17th, and Ohio Sens. George Voinovich and Michael DeWine.
The dam was built in 1918 and is showing its age. The two specific problems with the 87-year-old dam, according to city officials, are: It doesn't have an adequate spillage facility to keep the lake from becoming full and ease the pressure of the water against the dam; and the concrete is not stable enough to hold back the water if the lake were to become full.

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