Amherst city council is ending 2016 with a bang.
A number of important decisions have come up for final votes as the year closes:
• Widening of Kresge Drive was adopted in a deal between the city and developer Victor Nardini.
He has agreed to front half the cost of a $130,000 project in 2017 that will add a lane in front of his Century Plaza Phase III, under construction now. Once finished, the strip will include Domino’s, Jimmy John’s Gourmet Sandwiches, and one other business.
The goal is to give some relief in the traffic-swamped retail shopping area on Amherst’s border with Lorain.
“I’ll call it improved. I don’t think we’ll fix it with this, but it will definitely improve the situation,” mayor Mark Costilow said.
• The Ohio Department of Transportation has been granted permission to carry out inspections of highway bridges in Amherst.
In the past, the state has helped fund repairs when needed.
The inspections do not include railway overpasses, which are owned by the Norfolk & Southern Railroad.
• Pay hikes for a number city workers have been approved to cover cost of living increases over the next three years.
They fall in line with the deal struck this summer with members of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 277.
The deal extends two percent raises in 2017 and 2018 and a 1.5 percent increase in 2019 — the same schedule council gave employees back in 2014.
The recent vote covers the superintendent of utilities, superintendent of the water pollution control center, WPCC supervisor, electric foreman, street foreman, water foreman, sewer foreman, office on aging director, fire chief, police chief and lieutenants.
The umbrella also extends over certain non-union workers.
• The 2017 interim budget was approved with $32.6 million set aside to fund Amherst’s operations through March.
Many of its line items will cover the entire year. A final draft will likely fall in line with the 2016 budget of $38.9 million.
Why have an interim budget? It lets the city keep rolling into the new year even though final end-of-year expenses haven’t been paid out and carryover is unclear.
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