Hiram – A visitor from the Governor’s Office, Tim Ross, was in attendance at a recent Hiram Village Council meeting. Mr. Ross, the Eastern Ohio Regional Liaison for Ohio Governor Kasich, presented some findings from a recent governmental report entitled, Beyond Boundaries: A Shared Services Action Plan for Ohio Schools & Governments. Beyond Boundaries is a comprehensive study of public policy recommendations, potential collaborations and needed changes to the overall way of doing business in Ohio’s public sector. The June 2012 report states that, “The per capita cost of government in Northeast Ohio rose nearly 70 percent between 1992 and 2002, more than twice the rate of inflation for the Midwest.” Mr. Ross shared that among all regions studied, Northeast Ohio was in the top two regions with the highest governmental expenditures.
According to Mr. Ross, while funding for local government has seen budgetary reductions in recent history, future funding levels are not anticipated to change a great deal in the near future. “I understand where you’re at,” stated Mr. Ross, referring to recent budget cuts received by the Village, “and I sympathize with you,” he continued. According to Mr. Ross, the Governor’s office is looking for ways local governments can further reduce operating costs by sharing resources among local governmental agencies. To that end, the Village is investigating ways to share resources and costs with nearby Hiram Township.
In other news, Hiram Township Trustee Chairman Kathy Schulda, Fiscal Officer Stan Carlisle and Road Supervisor Tom Matota attended Village Council meeting to discuss an ongoing issue regarding taxation of township employees complying with Hiram Village tax ordinances. Village ordinances state that, since the Hiram Township Hall is located inside the Village, taxes are due to the Village by Township employees. The issue has been under discussion since the State Auditor’s office completed an audit and compelled Village officials to comply with current Village law.
Township employees contend that while they meet in Township property located within the Village, they do so less than twelve hours per month, and that the hall is not “their primary place of business,” referring to both Ohio Revised Code and Hiram Village Board of Tax Appeals findings. Hiram Mayor Lou Bertrand referred to the ongoing issue as, “the ape in the room,” and voiced his concerns about the unintended circumstances any resolution might have. He implored both Council and Township representatives to meet together at another date to reach a mutually agreeable solution, which all parties agreed to do.
In addition, Mayor Bertrand noted that work on the five point one acre parcel designated a Village Park is progressing. The Board will meet some time in August. Further discussion was held on the related topic of the recently resurrected Beautification Committee, which will consist of representatives from Village Council, Township Trustees, Hiram College, and residents from both the Village and Township. The Beautification Committee was established by an endowment in 1988. Half the funds will be used to help with upkeep to the College’s public gardens, while the other half will be split among Village and Township garden initiatives. Interested parties wishing to serve on this committee should contact Mayor Bertrand.
Lastly, Councilman Alan Donley announced that his term would expire this year, and he does not intent to run again. While he has enjoyed serving the Village in this capacity since his first non-continuous term in 1968, he wanted both Council and Village residents to consider this opportunity, but to be mindful that interested parties need to register with the Board of Elections by August 7th.
Since several Council members were absent at the last Village Council meeting, Council did not have enough members to constitute a super quorum, which is required in order to suspend the rules and pass emergency legislation. As such, several time-sensitive pieces of emergency legislation, including those pertaining to the Fire and EMS Departments, could not come to a vote. Council has scheduled a Special Council meeting on July 30th at 6 pm to vote on these items, and the public is encouraged to attend.