RITA remains in holding pattern

SALEM — City council’s meeting agenda Tuesday included an ordinance related to the city joining the Regional Income Tax Agency, but the legislation never made it to the floor.

There weren’t enough yes votes to suspend council rules to introduce the ordinance, even though the vote to suspend rules was 4-3. City Law Director Brooke Zellers explained that council members did not have a written copy of the proposed ordinance within 24 hours of the meeting, which required a suspending of council rules to have it considered.

The rules, though, require five yes votes to suspend council rules, so the ordinance will have to wait until the next council meeting to be introduced. At that time, Zellers said council rules won’t have to be suspended since all the council members have a copy of the ordinance now and the next meeting will be more than 24 hours after they received it.

The next council meeting will be 7 p.m. Nov. 6.

The ordinance, if approved, will authorize the mayor to enter into an agreement for participation in a regional council of governments for the administration and collection of municipal income tax in Salem. RITA is a regional council of governments. The vote to suspend council rules on the RITA issue went like this: Councilmen Andrew Null, Roy Paparodis and Sal Salvino and Councilwoman Cyndi Baronzzi Dickey all voting yes; Councilmen Geoff Goll, Ron Zellers and Steve Faber all voting no.

The RITA issue has proven to be a contentious one, with opinions for both sides voiced strongly in meetings, Letters to the Editor and on social media.

Council didn’t discuss the issue Tuesday, but resident Norman Uptegraph addressed the members, saying he’s very much against RITA. He used to live in North Royalton, which he said has RITA for tax collections.

“Everybody hates it,” he said, noting that if anyone wants to talk to someone in person, they have to travel to Brecksville.

He questioned why the city wants to waste taxpayer money. He said he’s heard about the savings but has yet to hear what the budget is for Salem. After being told the overall budget is in excess of $5 million, he said a savings of $50,000 to $80,000 would only be one-tenth of 1 percent.

“Why waste money — I just can’t see it,” he said.

In other business, council approved three ordinances for the Utilities Commission and Superintendent Don Weingart to seek bids for the yearly supply of chemicals, for a contract for a fixed point data collection/water meter reading system and for a contract for sludge removal. Council also approved an ordinance to create a police evidence fund.

Mayor John Berlin, Brooke Zellers, Council President Tom Baker and all council members extended their sympathies to the family of the late Jody McCracken, the Salem High School English teacher who passed away recently. Some had children who had her for a teacher and Baker was one of her former students.

“She will be missed by her students, her peers and the entire Salem Community,” Berlin said.

Goll noted that her family requested that in lieu of flowers, memorial contributions be made to the Salem Alumni Association. He said maybe if enough people donate, a scholarship can be established in her name.

Faber and Dickey also offered condolences for the late Ken Schrom, a former Salem Parks Commission member who passed away recently. Faber said he donated a lot of his time and talent to the parks system and his unique perspective on life will be missed.