August 21, 2014

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Lorain school board president apologizes for missing Council tax meeting

Given

Dan Given

 

Tim Williams

Tim Williams

LORAIN — City Council to Board of Education President Tim Williams: Read your emails carefully.

Council Clerk Nancy Greer on Dec. 19 emailed and formally mailed Williams an invitation for Williams and fellow board members to attend Monday’s Council meeting. Council members wanted to hear from board members before voting on a tax increment financing plan designed to pay for infrastructure improvements with future property taxes.

The agreement, involving a future Family Dollar at 2325 W. 21st St., previously had been criticized by board members Mitch Fallis and Jim Smith. Both said the 10-year agreement, in which Lorain Schools will receive about $2,723 annually instead of about $8,000, deprives students of money and sets a bad precedent.

Board members were criticized at the meeting by Councilman Dan Given, D-at large, for their absence. Given said Council, which had a Tuesday deadline to approve the deal or lose $10,890 in annual property taxes this year, had invited board members to attend. Given said Council couldn’t be “held hostage” by board members who had been negotiating with the city since September.

“It’s like mom used to say, ‘If you don’t have the guts to come forward and say something, don’t bellyache about it later on,” Given told Council members.

Williams on Tuesday said he hadn’t received an invitation. However, on Wednesday, Williams said he checked his email and found that he received emails from Greer on Dec. 19 and 21. The Dec. 19 email, which Williams forwarded to The Chronicle-Telegram, says Microsoft Outlook in the “from” heading. In the “subject” heading, it says “Delivery delayed: Invitation — Lorain City Finance & Claims Committee meeting Dec. 30, 2013 @ 6 p.m.”

The email, forwarded by Greer to The Chronicle on Wednesday, includes an attachment on formal Council stationary and is dated Dec. 19. Greer wrote in the email that she also sent a letter addressed to Williams to the Charleston Administration Center, the school district’s headquarters at 2350 Pole Ave.

Williams said he gets a lot of emails with a delivery delayed heading and didn’t read it further and didn’t open the second email. “It’s an honest mistake,” he said.

Williams said the holiday break is why he didn’t get the hard copy of the letter. Williams said because the tax deal was still being negotiated by the board, he wouldn’t have spoken about it if he had attended the meeting.

However, Fallis and Smith said they would’ve attended the meeting and spoken if they’d known about the invitation.

“It’s important to have conversation on all sides of an issue,” said Fallis, a former councilman. “Whether their mind was made up or not, they could have at least gotten school board members’ thoughts on that.”

Smith said he called Given on Wednesday and apologized for board members absence. Smith said the invitation mistake wasn’t the only communication breakdown regarding the financing agreement.

Smith said he was surprised to go on the Council’s website this week to find a proposed TIF agreement for a property at 5350 Oberlin Ave., which is still being negotiated. Smith said School Treasurer Dale Weber was emailed the proposal by Safety/Service Director Robert Fowler on Dec. 9 but didn’t notify Smith about the proposal at the board’s Dec. 10 meeting.

Smith, who frequently clashes with Williams at board meetings, said board communication needs to improve.

“I don’t know if we’re being told everything on a timely basis,” Smith said. “If that’s the case, then that is really a bad sign.”

Contact Evan Goodenow at 329-7129 or egoodenow@chroniclet.com.

  • GreatRedeemer

    Yet another reason why the Lorain schools are in academic emergency and controlled by an academic distress commission.

  • Denise Caruloff

    board president term up…hope the board fixes this.

  • Brian_Reinhardt

    Municipalities have begun to wrest control of school systems in the recent past.

    Could this be the first volley???

    You would think two public entities with combined budgets over a hundred million dollars would be able to coordinate a meeting.

    You people need to get your act together.

  • oldruss

    Dysfunctional is the word that best describes the Lorain Board of Education.

    Greedy is the word that best describes Lorain City Council.

    Unfortunately, when the two are combined, it’s the school kids who get the short end of the stick.

    AS for Given, he’s the councilman who steered the CRA tax give-away through Council some years back, a tax give-away which not only benefitted Given’s employer but also Given personally. That tax-giveaway scheme has taken tax revenue out of the Amherst schools and will continue to take tax revenue away from the Amherst school kids.

    • stillsleepyeyes

      They should redraw the lines and put all those kids back in Lorain schools………..