Akron's Blue Ribbon Task Force Report
A Blue Ribbon Task Force of community leaders in Akron has turned over a list of suggestions to the city’s new Mayor, Dan Horrigan.
Its two largest subjects were Akron’s finances and a federal consent decree to cap combined sewer overflows.
Task force chairman Tim Ochsenhirt said the city is rich with assets but should consider ending subsidies or making money from them. He says the city might turn over its 2 gold courses to the Summit County Metroparks. It could also attract companies around its municipal airport.
"We also are hopeful that will be another asset that we could do something with - on top of make it better but also stop ther subsidy at the same time. That subsidy might be $300,000 a year, or something like that, that we subsidize the airport presently."
Task Force member Tom Chema, the former president of Hiram College, proposed selling conservation easements on land the city owns along the Cuyahoga River..
“The city owns property, some 19,000 acres in Portage and Geauga counties, and so we ought to look the possibility of doing some things to permanently preserve that. But it would also provide dollars to the city and potentially be of value in the CSO issue vecasue wwe would be permanently improving upstream the quality of the water.
[Conservation easements] are fungible – they can be sold to a private sector enterprise that needs the tax breaks. So you end up generate dollars from that private entity that wants that tax credit. “
Chema says Hiram College earned seven figures of revenue from the state by protecting the Silver Creek, a cold water tributary of the Ohio River.
Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan has not read the report but said he's willing to take bold moves.