Water and sewer prices will increase for Kent residents, recycling will continue

Kent City Council's Dec. 15, 2021, meeting

Water isn’t free. And in Kent, it’s about to get a little more costly.

On Wednesday, Kent City Council earmarked $1,391,300 of its 2021 share of American Rescue Plan Act money to repair and replace equipment at Kent’s water reclamation facility. The city’s total ARPA share for 2021 is $3,755,140, with an identical amount due to arrive next year.

City leaders also unanimously authorized a proposed 2022 operating budget, including annual 3% water rate hikes as well as 3% sewer rate hikes, effective with the first billing cycle in January.

They also authorized the Portage County Solid Waste Management District to continue picking up residents’ recycling twice a month at the same rate that used to give residents weekly service: $5.50 per month. Council Member John Kuhar opposed the measure, citing the biweekly pickup schedule, which has led to residents complaining to him about overflowing bins.

The contract is effective for 18 months beginning Jan. 1.

Watch Wednesday’s city council meeting:

Architecture Review Board vacancies

Council delayed appointing applicants Kevin Koogle or Valerie Landis to the city’s Architecture Review Board until ARB’s guidelines are reviewed. After questions arose last summer regarding the ARB’s purview, Council agreed to hire a consultant to review the city’s guidelines. Council Member Roger Sidoti stated during Wednesday’s council meeting that he is hopeful the review process will be complete by spring.

Koogle’s bid for re-appointment failed by a 6-2 vote last month, with only Mike DeLeone and Tracy Wallach championing him; Landis only received Kuhar’s support. Opposing the measure to delay the appointment was Wallach.

Besides Koogle and recently re-appointed member Dennis Saxe, ARB members are Bridget Tipton, David Batista and Howard Boyle. Koogle’s term expires Dec. 31.

Council did unanimously re-appoint Andrew Scholl to the city’s Sustainability Commission, and approved Mayor Jerry Fiala’s re-appointments of David Smeiles to the Community Reinvestment Area Housing Council, and Annette Petranic to the Franklin-Kent Joint Economic Development District.

Swearing in

Law Director Hope Jones swore in council’s at-large members, all of whom won their recent bids for re-election. To the sound of their colleagues’ applause, DeLeone, Gwen Rosenberg, and Sidoti vowed to do their best to represent Kent. Jones also swore in Fiala, who was recently re-elected for a fourth term.

Citizens speak out on ‘village’ plan

Chadwick Drive residents John Thomas and Wendy Yuzik expressed concerns about KSU’s proposed Intergenerational Village, which the university recently stated may or may not actually be built

Yuzik dismissed a Dec. 13 town-gown meeting regarding the development as a sham that did not address residents’ concerns. Sidoti, though, said the meeting showcased the university’s efforts to be as transparent as possible. More conversations about the proposed development are definitely needed, he said.

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Wendy DiAlesandro is a former Record Publishing Co. reporter and contributing writer for The Portager.