Norton City Council

Photo courtesy of THE CITY OF NORTON

Council took a step toward final assessments for the Nash Heights sewer project.

NORTON – The project finished and the final bills submitted, the final assessment for the massive Nash Heights sewer project is moving forward.

The city presented an ordinance for an $11,000 individual assessment, slightly less than the projected amount. Working some math, though, Councilman Paul Tousley and Councilwoman Charlotte Whipkey concluded that the original split, the city picking up 59 percent of the cost, would put the homeowners’ share at $10,700.

The ordinance was adjusted to reflect the change.

“We had anticipated something like this,” City Administrator Robert Fowler said.

Councilman Joe Kernan said he would vote for the measure but had reservations.

“So, 59-41, is that what we’re going to do for everything going forward?” he asked. “You know whatever these residents don’t pay the residents elsewhere are paying.”

Kernan added Norton’s handling of these assessments is literally unique.

“In every other community, when there are assessments, the property owner pays the assessment,” Kernan said.

Once approved, assessments would not begin until 2020 so, with no hurry, the ordinance went for a second reading.

Also getting a first reading was a trio of ordinances securing Tax Increment Financing breaks for three business projects: Creekside Animal Clinic, McDonald’s and Arby’s. The deal is similar to the one already granted to Acme; the businesses will make direct payments to the city in lieu of property taxes to the county. This allows the city to take advantage of the added value of the additions made without sharing with the county, leaving the school district unharmed and giving the businesses a bit of a break.

A contract with Environmental Design Group to design a sewer extension on Greenwich Road also got a first reading. The roughly 1,000 feet of line connecting to the new Nash Heights line is old and there is concern it has insufficient capacity to handle additional flow.

Council passed the annual ordinance contracting with Barberton to provide a prosecutor for Norton.

Also passed was an amendment to the ordinance governing where the money from the laser speed cameras used in the Interstate 76 construction zone goes. Gone is a provision for a school resource officer. In the revision, the first $200,000 goes to the program itself. The next $200,000 goes to the police department’s equipment budget. The remainder is split, 75 percent going to roads and 25 percent going to economic development. The allocation resets and starts over with the new calendar year.

Measures establishing funds for the Eastern Road water line project, economic development and covering the infrequent 27th employee pay all got first readings, as did one appointing Fowler to the Tax Incentive Review Council.

Council spent some time listening to the final third of the 2019 budget, poring over the Enterprise Fund. Among its line items were projects to spruce up the community center, repairing the restrooms and painting the walls.

Council hauled up short, coming to an item to upgrade the brand new pump station attached to the Nash Heights project. Several members wanted to know why.

“As it was originally designed, it was to service everything east of (state Route) 21,” law director Justin Markey said. “However, that got tied to a conspiracy to sewer the entire city. To appease certain people, it was scaled back drastically to serve Nash Heights only.”

“So we built a pump station with no capacity for the future and now we have to upgrade it?” Kernan asked.

“That is correct,” Markey said.

Councilman Jack Gainer wanted to include some headstone repairs in the cemetery budget. Kernan cautioned the headstones are privately owned and the city likely can’t legally spend public money on them. That idea was referred to committee for more discussion.

The 2019 appropriations got a reading and went to the next meeting.

Council’s next meeting will be a committee work session Monday, Dec. 3 at 7 p.m. in the city administration building.

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