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Council tables police department levy

Cary Ashby • Jul 3, 2018 at 9:00 PM

Norwalk city council was forced to table the ordinance on the police department levy Tuesday due to an insufficient number of voting members.

Law director Stuart O’Hara made the request to have it tabled until the July 17 meeting. He said the ordinance requires a two-thirds vote by all the elected members of council, noting “it could not be passed tonight” since there were only six at the meeting.

Council members Jordy Horowitz and Bryan Lamb had excused absences, both for travel purposes. The remaining council members approved tabling the ordinance without discussion. O’Hara said he would have to research to see if it would need to have an emergency clause due to the time frame.

Norwalk Safety-Service Director Dan Wendt explained the police department levy before Tuesday’s meeting. 

“It’s a property tax value. We’ve not updated it for today’s value,” he said. “It hasn’t been updated since 1976.”

If voters pass the levy, Wendt said the tax would generate an additional $169,000 each year. A 25th officer in the department with full benefits would cost the city $105,000. The remaining $169,000 includes $50,000 of capital improvements (such as building, maintenance for the city jail, cruisers and safety equipment) and $14,000 for training.

Tuesday was fourth-ward Councilman Chris Castle’s last meeting due to his resignation about residency requirements. He said it has been an honor to work with his fellow council members, the city administration, Norwalk Fire Chief John Soisson and retired police Chief Dave Light. Castle added he is pleased to see the transition from Light to Mike Conney leading the police department.

“This has been an honor — one of the greatest honors of my life,” said Castle, who plans to remain in touch with council members about issues impacting Norwalk. “I’m still very committed to this town.”

In addition, he said he hopes the city can look forward, not make decisions based only on “what’s just under our noses” and can “push the envelope” when it comes to long-term decisions.

In other action, Mayor Rob Duncan said as of Monday, the city received the necessary donations so the Fourth of July fireworks could still move forward. He thanked the individuals and businesses that donated, but didn’t name them specifically.

“It was pretty close this year,” Duncan told council.

The mayor also reminded council members that the new Sidelines Sports Eatery and Pub is now open at 230 Milan Ave., the former site of Bar 145.

“The food is pretty good; you’ll have to try it out,” Duncan said.

Norwalk Public Works Director Josh Snyder told council that Old State Road would be open for the Fourth of July so residents can access Veterans Memorial Lake Park due to the importance of the reservoir during the holiday. The road was supposed to have signs marked “uneven pavement.”

“It will be closed again after the holday,” Snyder said.

Old State Road is undergoing reconstruction — instead of just resurfacing — and has become a bigger project due to what the engineer referred to as unanticipated “extensive damage.” That bumped the price tag up from the original cost of $405,000 to $659,000. The additional money will be split between Norwalk ($89,250), the Ohio Department of Transportation ($63,500) and Ohio Public Works Commission ($101,250). 

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