Salem council to abolish Quaker district

SALEM — Council members will start to look at ways to abolish the Quaker Community Fire District.

Councilman Earl A. Schory II said Tuesday that council’s traffic and safety committee will study the issue.

Law Director C. Brooke Zellers called it a “limbo entity of a district” and added that no party had any interest in the district.

Council and Perry Township had agreed to form the district to lower costs. The district would have eliminated the township’s volunteer fire department and the city’s full-time fire department.

But the State Employment Relations Board last year ruled that the district was improperly formed while the city fire department had a valid contract. The fire district only created rules of operation but never functioned.

As a part of the agreement, the city and township also agreed that township land would not be annexed into the city for three years. City officials estimated they’re about halfway through that period.

The traffic and safety committee will meet at 6 p.m. Tuesday.

During the meeting, Mayor Larry DeJane, in his last state of the city address to council, said, “ At a time when every tax dollar of income is critical to the health of the city, this type of agreement will restrict growth. Annexations mean tax dollars that we desperately need.

"Residential, commercial and industrial annexations will bring much-needed property taxes and income taxes.”

DeJane has said he will not run this year for a fourth term. But he said his administration during the last 11 years had handled 22 annexations that brought 1.7 square miles into the city.

“This is a record which I am proud of and has not been equaled by any other administration,” the mayor said.

Several businesses have closed in recent years and some city officials have recently agreed to work with the Salem Area Chamber of Commerce to attract business.

In other business, Atty. David Raber of Columbus asked the city to use a state law to allow the Salem Wal-Mart to get a C1-C2 liquor license to sell carryout beer and wine. The store has a C1 carryout beer license.

Under the move, the store’s current C1 beer permit would be transferred elsewhere.

Raber said the law was not aimed at creating jobs.

The beer and wine permit could be approved under state law because some city precincts have lost population.

Councilman Greg Oesch said, “I don’t see where a wine license would be a boost.”

Oesch pointed out that there are a number of “mom and pop” stores in Salem owned by city residents and natives who have seen their   income drop.

Council approved the measure, with Oesch and Councilwoman Mary Lou Popa voting against it.

Council also agreed to change the split of income tax funds from 80 percent for operating costs and 20 percent for capital improvements, to 75 percent for operating costs and the rest for capital improvements. Council wanted to make the split to catch up on delayed projects.

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