By John Edwards
Sheffield Lake City Council members discussed tougher penalties for tampering with in-ground residential water meters at their Oct. 20 work session. Councilman at Large Steve Kovach, who heads the Ordinance Committee, brought up the topic in his report in anticipation of the installation of new computerized water meters by Neptune Equipment, expected to begin next week. Kovach said Safety Committee members were in favor of making tampering with the meters a misdemeanor offense carrying a fine of at least $1,000.
Law Director David Graves, who normally attends Ordinance Committee meetings but was unable to be at the Oct. 1 meeting, told council that the city’s current ordinance already does that, making a conviction for tampering a first-degree misdemeanor punishable by a 1,000 fine and up to six months in jail. Ward 2 Councilman Alan Smith noted that most tampering occurs when residents who do not have water main shut-off valves in their homes attempt to shut the water off at the meter, or hire a plumber who resorts to performing a shut-off at the meter.
Mayor Dennis Bring commented that what should be done in such situations is to call the water department and request an employee to do the shut-off, but that if the flooding occurs after hours or on weekends residents should first call the police department (440-949-7131), report the situation and inform the dispatcher that the shut-off had been or would be done at the meter.
The police department would then inform the water department that the shut off had occurred. Council members discussed adding an amendment to the tampering ordinance that would change the wording to say “up to $1,000 fine plus the cost of any repairs needed to the system due to the shut-off,” which, according to Graves, would change the offense from a first-degree misdemeanor to an unclassified misdemeanor. The committee will continue the discussion at its November meeting, and then bring any recommended amendments back to council.
In the Finance and Audit Committee meeting held prior to council’s work session, finance Director Tammy Smith submitted an ordinance to transfer funds between appropriated line items in the 2015 city budget. Smith described the transfers as “end of the year odds and ends” required to ensure that all accounts are balanced.
Council voted to add the ordinance to its agenda for the Oct. 27 regular council meeting. In the public hearing on Cove Beach resident Catalin Oprean’s requested a rezone an adjacent parcel from Industrial zoning to R-1 residential zoning in order to build a garage without meeting the requirements for an industrial building which would have been in effect without the zoning change. No objections to the change were voiced and the zoning change will be on council’s Oct. 27 agenda for a third reading and vote.
Mayor Bring reported that the parking lots at City Hall and at the Joyce E. Hanks Community Center were in the process of being resurfaced. Both parking lots are now repaved, and await only the painting of parking space lines.