SALEM - The project designed to give the city state-of-the-art traffic signals will be completed after City Council voted 5-1 Tuesday to go forward with it.
Council had approved the engineering two years ago and already has spent about $87,000 on engineering and fees. The state will pay 80 percent of the project, but recently the Ohio Department of Transportation sent word that due to rising costs of projects the city's share may be $257,000 instead of the original $165,000. During a recent committee of the whole meeting, Steve Andres, director of service and safety, along with city electrician Mike Bibbee assured council the amount will be about $165,000. ODOT would not allow the project to go to bid unless Salem agrees to pay the higher amount should the project's total costs rise, which the resolution passed Tuesday approved.
Councilman Clyde Brown refused to vote for the project. First he questioned whether the project is needed at all if the extension of East Pershing Street will help reduce traffic on East State Street anyway.
Andres countered that the current system is going to fail, causing the city to lose control of all the signals.
Brown further said people he talks to believe it would make more sense to spend the money on economic development or street repairs. Then Brown vowed he would vote "no" later in the meeting when the vote occurred.
"Mr. Brown, it would have been nice if you had voted no to two years ago," Andres said. "We could have used the $87,000 on streets then."
Councilwoman Mary Ann Dzuracky spoke favorably of the project, noting having red lights lined up well could help those attempting to exit from Marc's, which long has been a concern of Brown. Andres said the new system will allow for vehicles to be counted and then traffic flow regulated by changing the signals to match the busier times of day and few vehicles at night.
In other matters before council:
- Mayor Jerry Wolford provided council with information about the health board's job descriptions and asked the committee of the whole to meet in the next week to go over them.
Councilman Bud Schory, who chairs the committee of the whole, said he was glad the mayor asked for council's input. He talked about separation of power and how he was concerned at the last meeting how Wolford presented the board members' names and council approved them without having a chance to check into them. He suggested when the Supreme Court makes an appointment the Senate has hearings about each member before having a confirmation vote.
Schory set the meeting for 8 p.m. Tuesday. Other committee meetings set for that day are finance, 8 a.m.; parks, 6:30 p.m. and rules and ordinance, 7 p.m.
- Wolford announced a luncheon planned for the industrial and business leaders in Salem at noon April 6. The speakers will be state Rep. Linda Bolon and state Sen. Jason Wilson. More details will be released.
- Wolford outlined for council the five stimulus money projects for which the city has applied and added that U.S. Route 62 expansion is also in the mix as a regional project. Across the state, Wolford said cities and communities have applied for about 12,000 projects. Wolford's projects include the East Pershing Street extension, industrial park expansion, expanding the bypass from state Route 45 to Franklin Avenue/state Route 344 and paving along State Street downtown and North Lincoln to the city limits.
- Council approved a resolution allowing Andres to go through the state purchasing program for the purchase of salt for next winter.
- While income tax revenues are back about even, the business collections are down 20 percent. When questioned by council, Treasurer Bob Tullis said he is not yet concerned, but it is something that could be a concern if the trend continues after the next couple months.
- An executive session was held to discuss both possible land purchase and pending litigation.