Collaboration is key to Summit's success, says county executive

by Laura Freeman | Reporter Published:

Akron -- Collaboration is the key to the county's success as Summit County provides services to communities and consolidates to improve efficiency and reduce the cost of government.

Summit County Executive Russ Pry gave his annual State of the County Address March 27 at the John S. Knight Center in downtown Akron, which is sponsored by the Akron Press Club. Pry was elected to his second four-year term as county executive in November.

He said the economy is slowly recovering in Summit County with construction activity for commercial and residential buildings on the rise. Sales tax collection grew by 5 percent and property transfer taxes grew by 9 percent as property sales began to improve.

In spite of the slight improvement, the total general fund dropped by $2.9 million in 2012 because of reductions in investment earnings, reduced property values and cuts in state funding, Pry said.

"Managing the finances and operations of the county government continues to be extremely challenging," Pry said.

The county consolidated the building departments of Akron, Cuyahoga Falls and Tallmadge into the County's Division of Building Standards and now serves 23 of the cities, villages and townships in Summit County, Pry said.

"We have become a model in the state for our collaborative and efficient model," Pry said.

Twinsburg Mayor Katherine Procop said although the redevelopment of her city's former Chrysler site is aided by federal and state funding, the county has always supported the city's incentive program.

"I really appreciate the continuation of [support]," Procop said. "He [Pry] is already doing job creation and that's important for all residents of Summit County."

Tallmadge Mayor David Kline said the regional proposals for Summit County are "phenomenal" for Tallmadge.

"We've had a great working relationship," Kline said about Pry. "I told him about more collaboration for the future."

Other collaborations Pry pointed to include providing Stow with employee training.

Stow Mayor Sara Drew said Pry had very relevant things to say.

"I appreciate the investment the county has made in infrastructure," Drew said.

Several projects in Stow's future are based on the county partnering with communities for private and public development, Drew said.

"I am also redirecting the focus of my Department of Environmental Services towards building infrastructure that is needed for, and supports, economic development in the county," Pry said.

The county partnered with John A Shutsa & Assoc. to help finance the sanitary sewers for the Seasons Greene Industrial Park in Hudson, Pry said.

Hudson Mayor William Currin said Pry's report contained many initiatives and successes for the county and heard collaboration, collaboration and collaboration.

"We anticipate Seasons Eco-Greene's great success," Currin said.

The county supports social service collaboration for both the elderly and young, Pry said.

"My department of Job and Family Services collaborated with Summit County Public Health and created the Adult Protective Services Community Model," Pry said.

The team promotes coordination between agencies to increase efficiency, reduce duplication and prevent clients from "falling through the cracks," Pry said.

Pry announced the creation of Summit Kids Month in August to help children. The first week highlights kindergarten readiness, the second week focuses on immunization, the third provides a fun all-day expo and the final week will address community infant mortality, Pry said. Ohio has the 11th worse infant mortality rate in the nation.

The mental health support the county offers matches with Hudson's initiative Keep Hudson Safe, Currin said.

"More people need to understand what is available through the county," Currin said.

Email: lfreeman@recordpub.com

Phone: 330-541-9434

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