CONNEAUT — At a meeting on Monday night, an ordinance was introduced to reduce the credit given to residents who pay income tax to other municipalities.

Currently, the city gives residents who pay income tax to other municipalities a 100 percent credit, up to the city’s 1.65 percent income tax rate, Conneaut Finance Director John Williams said.

The proposed ordinance would reduce that credit to 50 percent.

The change is expected to generate approximately $200,000 per year for the city.

The funds would be directed to the city’s public works department.

Williams said the recent increase in gas tax revenue the city received from the state has gone to pay for debt service on large public works projects. Those projects also had millions of dollars of grant funds associated with them, he said.

The proposed change in the income tax credit has been discussed for some time.

“I think the bottom line is we’re finally addressing a shortfall in the public works department that has been neglected for many years,” Council President Jon Arcaro said.

Since 2000, Conneaut’s public works department has lost 10 full-time positions, cutting the staff in half, Williams said.

“We continue to ask public works to do many things, and they’ve been beleaguered for some time, so this will address it,” Arcaro said. “And what I like about it is we’re saying exactly where it’s going, which is to public works.”

The ordinance was moved to a second reading. Unless council waves the three-reading rule, the ordinance will have to be read at one more meeting before being acted upon at a third meeting.

 

In other business

• City Manager Jim Hockaday gave council an update on the city’s COVID-19 situation.

There are 122 active COVID-19 cases in the city and 18 current hospitalizations, Hockaday said.

“Our local hospital here, UH Conneaut, is for the most part, at capacity,” Hockaday said. “And that is true of both Ashtabula and Geneva as well.”

He encouraged people to stay home from Thanksgiving events and get tested for COVID-19 if they are not feeling well.

• Route 20 from Parrish Road to the Conneaut Plaza has been reopened to two-way traffic.

“There are a number of things that need to happen on that road yet, and will happen sporadically,” Hockaday said.

Driveway aprons and approaches on both sides of the road will be rebuilt in the work area, in addition to guardrails on the south side of the road and curb backing work, Hockaday said.

The final layer of asphalt will be applied to that section of Route 20 next year, when Route 20 is resurfaced from the North Kingsville line to the viaduct bridge.

• At the end of the meeting, Arcaro raised concerns about how the city responds to public records requests.

Arcaro said he submitted a public records request in his personal capacity in late September, and it took seven weeks to receive the records. He said two departments processed his request within 10 days, but were told to forward the information to the law director’s office for approval.

“According to the city records policy … a records request should be completed within 10 days,” Arcaro said. “Furthermore, no where in the policy is it stated that a request will be filtered through the city manager and approved by the law director before being released.

“So if this is the way that my request was treated, and I’m the de facto head of the municipal government, one might imagine how a request from a regular citizen would be handled,” Arcaro said. “My advice to the administration is that we can and should do better.”

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