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Village council seeks ballot clarification

September 29, 2011
By Richard Sberna
Semantics was the main topic of discussion at the regular meeting of Poland Village Council on Sept. 20. Council members expressed concern over the wording of a measure, which will appear on the ballot in the Nov. 8 election, that aims to repeal a stormwater utility ordinance that council passed last year.

The discussion went back and forth among several members of council, with solicitor Anthony D’Apolito attempting to provide a legal framework for the language of the measure as it is scheduled to appear on the ballot. He expressed his concern over the current ballot phrasing expressed as a double negative that might confuse voters. Indeed, members of council could not agree on its meaning.

The question hinged upon whether the repeal of Ordinances 1391 and 1392 would result in the law reverting back to Ordinances 1376 and 1377, which were superseded by 1391 and 1392, or if the passage of the 1391 and 1392 effectively eliminated 1376 and 1377, meaning a repeal of 1391 and 1392 would reset the storm water situation back to zero.

The referendum to repeal the ordinances was placed on the ballot following a petition campaign among village residents unhappy with the proposed costs of the stormwater utility, which council passed by a 5-1 vote in December 2010. Councilman Bob Limmer suggested requesting a letter of explanation from the Mahoning County Board of Elections clarifying what would result from repeal of the ordinance. D’Apolito said that he would pursue the matter.

Also appearing on the ballot will be a 1-mill police renewal levy. Councilman David Raspanti pointed out that the renewal, though it remains at the same 1-mill rate as when first passed in 2006, will actually cost residents less. According to Raspanti, the new construction in the village over the last five years will spread out the costs over a larger pool, resulting in a greater sharing of the costs and more families paying less per household.

The question of wording arose when the meeting led off with Councilman Bill Dunnavant discussing the need for promotional materials, including yard signs and pamphlets, for the upcoming election. Council voted to set a time and date of 7 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 26 to hold a public meeting for discussion of the ordinances on the ballot in advance of the Nov. 8 election.

Council voted to accept the resignation of Kevin Caldwell from the street department, but decided to wait on formally hiring his intended replacement, Joshua White, until an ordinance was drafted and passed that would employ him at the desired pay rate. Street commissioner Russell Beatty said that this was fine, as long as action was taken before leaf season begins in earnest next month.

Mayor Tim Sicafuse announced new gas rates of $5.54 per MCF from the village’s aggregation supplier, Vectren Source. The decision was made to not issue a press release announcing the rate, which is the same as surrounding communities, because Poland Township and Boardman have already released information about their identical rates. “We did it with everyone else, so no one can complain later about about somebody getting a better rate,” Sicafuse said.

In other business:

- Council announced an open house event at Western Reserve Joint Fire District Station 91, 111 S. Main St., from noon to 3 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 2. Station 92, at 7519 Youngstown-Pittsburgh Road, will host its own open house the following Sunday, Oct. 9.

- The ordinance for an expansion of the police/road department garage will be held over until next meeting. Until then, Beatty said that he would look into D’Apolito’s concern regarding insurance coverage for vehicles that would be stored in the expanded facility.

- Town One Streetscapes’ permit request for a farmer’s market to be held in the Poland Library parking lot will be delayed until zoning issues of the library property can be determined.


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