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Akron Mayor Shammas Malik compromises with council, eliminates 3 administration positions in budget

Akron Mayor Shammas Malik looks on as a small group of Akron residents discuss feedback on the proposed operating budget at Firestone Community Learning Center on March 20, 2024.
Anna Huntsman
Ideastream Public Media
Akron Mayor Shammas Malik looks on as a small group of Akron residents discuss feedback on the proposed operating budget at Firestone Community Learning Center on March 20, 2024.

After hearing feedback from council members and residents over the past two weeks, Akron Mayor Shammas Malik will eliminate some of the proposed new positions in his first operating budget, the mayor announced in a Friday news release.

Council members had criticized the addition of eight net new positions in the $815 million budget.

The budget amendment will eliminate three of those positions: a Data and Transparency Specialist, Public Engagement Specialist and Environmental Policy Specialist. All three roles were vacant.

“I feel strongly that we are offering a budget to City Council that we can all agree on,” Malik said in the release. “I appreciate the feedback we have received over the last several weeks, both from our councilmembers and our residents.”

In response to the initial criticisms, Malik said adding staff members would help with initiatives around collaboration and transparency.

Several council members, however, wanted to hold off on hiring some of the positions and instead invest more in neighborhoods, said Council President Margo Sommerville.

“We’ve got to make sure that resources are equitably distributed across all departments because we all have a job to do. Not just the mayor,” Sommerville said.

The mayor and staff members met with Sommerville and other city council leaders over the past week to address the concerns, she said.

Two of the positions would have been paid annual salaries of $97,705 while the environmental position was budgeted for $48,752, according to the release. Malik also proposed reducing mayor’s office service contracts and the contract for the demolition of the Word Church.

Malik proposes using those funds in other areas of the budget, such as a grant writer for the Akron Municipal Court, funds for housing and nuisance compliance and a neighborhood partnership program for city council.

While Sommerville does not think the changes are a “compromise,” she said the amendment makes for a more balanced budget.

“[It’s] our best attempt to, again, try to make sure that some of these departments that Akron residents rely on heavily have a little bit more resources so that they can provide a better level of service to Akron residents,” Sommerville said.

Council will likely pass the budget on Monday, she added.

“I am confident the team we have in place will make considerable progress on our Together For Akron vision in this first year. We will not be backing away from our commitments to public engagement, environmental policy, or data transparency," Malik said.

In an email, Ward 4 Councilmember Jan Davis, who initially said she was “on the fence” about the budget, said she is now willing to vote for it based on the proposed changes.

Several councilmembers told Ideastream Public Media they were still undecided and want to learn more details ahead of Monday’s vote.

The budget must be passed by the end of March.

Updated: March 22, 2024 at 4:51 PM EDT
This story has been updated to add comments from the president of Akron City Council.
Anna Huntsman covers Akron, Canton and surrounding communities for Ideastream Public Media.