Council Addresses Budget, Portage Crossing and Layoffs

Cuyahoga Falls council had a busy Monday night.

Just before the meeting commenced, discussion of the four layoffs brought an uncomfortable tension to the room. Today, council eliminated four cleaning service jobs.

Bonnie Powell choked back tears as she addressed the room. She is glad to be able to retire at least, though it’s a few years early in her plan.

“They tell us not to miss work,” she said. “We don’t miss work and we still lose our jobs.”

She and two others spoke of feelings on the cutback situation, pointing out that the jobs are some of the lowest paid in the city.

“This is a tough decision,” said council chaplain, Kathy Hummel, before the ordinance was adopted with a 5-4 vote.

At the end of the council meeting, Mayor Don Robart weighed in on the situation.

“Even though we’ll end the year in a healthy position, the budget looking forward is not that promising and is, in fact, looking pretty bleak,” he said. “These are tough decisions for us, too, but we can’t ignore them.”


Budget was city council’s main concern Monday night. Finance Director Joseph Brodzinski spoke on each item.

Buildings and grounds had a more than 5% increase in budget, while the street department had a small decrease.

The looks to hire two officers, with current detective, Dave Cooper, looking to retire spring 2012. This will bring the department to 71 or 72 on staff, said Police Chief Thomas Pozza.

“Our guys are still answering calls and catching bad guys,” Pozza said. “So by and large, I’m very proud of the department as my first year of chief of police.”

Portage Crossing Project

The Portage Crossing project moves along as Stark Enterprises gains tenants and makes progress with other retailers. Steve Rubin, chief operating officer, addressed council and a crowd of almost 50. He explained the plan to close deals by March 31, with hope to break ground shortly after.

A few residents attending the meeting tried to get answers out of Rubin as to what type of retailers would be moving in, but Rubin didn’t budge.

“Part of the issue is that in the business world, as we negotiate these things, retailers are reticent to disclose publicly,” Rubin said and explained it could harm a potential deal.

Cecilia Brady asked about small businesses and found five year leases will be an option for strong candidates.

“We like having and encourage small businesses,” Rubin said. “There are opportunities for smaller businesses in the project.”

Don December 15, 2011 at 08:56 PM
The City exists to provide services for the public, not to provide employment. Why should $200,000 of my (and YOUR) tax dollars be spent to do a job when it can be done for $34,000? Budget years coincide with the yearly change in the calendar, and that is when major financial changes are made. The cleaning job is an internal service that does not directly benefit the citizens. Would you rather not have your garbage picked up?
Robin Anderson December 16, 2011 at 06:11 PM
Understandable, Don. Perhaps it was the City & developer's enthusiasm for the project that lead to their initial plans to "announce" the initial tenants this fall? Welcome to the real world, eh?
Robin Anderson December 16, 2011 at 06:21 PM
Fair value for the dollar tendered should be the "bottom line", Don. I believe an article in the Falls News stated that the contracted services, time-wise, would be only half that of the current in-house services provided. Time will tell, I'd guess, as to whether or not the level of service has been halved. Um, Don? My City-provided garbage service is funded by a user fee; I wonder if the City is making any "profit" from it like it does from our Electric Utility folk?
Don December 16, 2011 at 06:47 PM
Robin, in the end, the question becomes do you pay almost 5 times as much for in-house service as you can for contracted services for the SAME job? If you say yes, perhaps you would be willing to increase your property tax or income tax to fund the extra costs? I would submit that you would be a minority of one. Wages for City Hall cleaning expenses come from the General Fund, not the enterprise funds. Each of the City services divisions (Sanitation, Electric, Water) are separate enterprise funds. Profits or losses are not commingled with other funds, including the general fund. If enterprise fund balances drop to a low value, you can expect a rate increase. The City, like most families, has both wants and needs. In this economy, wants have gone by the wayside and needs are being very carefully reviewed. As they should be.
Robin Anderson December 19, 2011 at 05:37 PM
Your figures are glaringly exaggerated and, in some instances, outright wrong, Don...at least by what I've read and been told by City officials. The more detailed Falls News article I referenced reported costs only 2-3 times more for in house vs contracted right along with the hourly service provided by each. Our Electric Utility has definitely been reported as "making a profit" and said profit in the past was, indeed, shifted into the General Fund to help pay for some of the luxuries such as leaf pick-up.


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