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Munroe Falls -- City officials say that a leaky City Hall roof is a reminder that the city needs money.
Mayor James Armstrong told City Council, as it sat under a stained ceiling with half the lights off because of water damage Feb. 7, that replacing the roof is an example of something that can only be put off so long before it needs to be addressed.
"As you can see from the ceiling, there comes a point where you just have to do it," he said.
In a Feb. 8 press release, Armstrong said replacing the roof, currently estimated at about $18,000, had been considered since 2013, but had been put off because of costs.
Service Director Jim Bowery told the Stow Sentry Feb. 8 that the $18,000 estimate only includes the cost of replacing the roof, believed to be about 25 years old, but not recent interior damage, including replacing drywall, the ceiling, insulation and possibly the Council chambers speaker system. These costs have not been estimated, yet, and the estimated costs for the roof replacement are "preliminary," said Bowery.
"A lot depends on how much of the wood on the roof needs to be replaced," he said.
In the meantime, said Bowery, a tarp was placed over the roof Feb. 7 to prevent further damage.
Bowery said the cost of replacing the roof will be in the proposed 2017 permanent improvement budget, now being prepared, but it has been in proposed city budgets for the last few years and was ultimately cut each time.
The roof has been leaky, he said, for a few years, but the problem started becoming more serious during a heavy rain in December.
"That's the first time it started coming into Council chambers," he said, adding that it started becoming even more serious during the previous few days.
"[A roof replacement] keeps getting pushed back and now it's at the point where I don't think we can push it back anymore," said Bowery.
"Although the condition of the city's finances resulted in the State Auditor issuing four cautionary findings and two critical findings after auditing the 2015 records [see story on Page 1], the replacement of the city hall roof can no longer wait," said Armstrong. "The obvious repair needs of city hall and the State Auditor's warning about the city's finances clearly demonstrates the levies on the [May 2 election] ballot are necessities and not wants."
Armstrong was referring to two tax issues, an increase in the city's local income tax rate from 2 percent to 2.25 percent and a 2.8-mill, five-year police levy, which are estimated to bring in $276,000 and about $300,000 annually if approved.
Voters rejected both measures this past November, but approved a 2-mill, 10-year capital improvements levy estimated to raise about $214,000 annually.
"Since the levy that passed must be used for road projects, the money to maintain the city's buildings must come from the General Fund, which has been running at an operational deficit for a number of years. Passage of the May levies would address this serious financial situation," said Armstrong in the press release.
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Has the money already gone to the Board of Elections to put the tax issues on the May ballot? If not, that would pay for a big part of the roof repairs. I'm surprised that mayors, councilmembers, trustees, etc. haven't marched down to Columbus and demanded that Kasich restore funding that has been lost to communities. Expecting more money from citizens who are already overtaxed and who also have roofs to repair, property to maintain, children to raise......is expecting a lot.