(08/18/08) - Mayor Don Plusquellic is
submitting to Akron City Council legislation that would ask voters to amend the City of
Akron Charter to make way for the funding of the Akron Scholarship Plan.
The Akron Scholarship Plan (566k
pdf) will provide a way for every qualified Akron high school graduate to attend an
accredited and approved college, university, trade or technical school. After graduation,
the goal is for students to live or work in Akron, thus continuing the growth of the Akron
economy and providing a sustainable, long-term benefit to students and community.
The Akron Scholarship Plan will be funded without imposing additional taxes by using
the net proceeds from the lease of the sewer system.
The lease would contain protections such as a guaranteed rate cap; mandatory EPA
compliance, and performance standards to insure a high-quality operation.
The legislation will go before Council when it meets in special session Monday, August
18, 2008 at 5:30 p.m.
The Akron Scholarship Plan is similar to the already-successful program in Kalamazoo,
Michigan known as the Kalamazoo Promise. That scholarship plan was established using a
substantial amount of private funds to endow a scholarship fund, providing free college
This roughly two year old program has already been responsible for the creation of
3,500 new jobs in and around the city of Kalamazoo and is being modeled in Arkansas,
Colorado and Pennsylvania.
Mayor Plusquellic will also take before council three other pieces of legislation
asking voters to amend the citys charter. Voters will be asked:
Whether to require the City to follow state laws regarding certain
transactions pertaining to the sale, lease or transfer to a governmental entity or
political subdivision and use the proceeds to fund a scholarship program as determined by
the Mayor and approved by Council.
This provides for only governmental entities or political subdivisions to purchase or
lease the sewer system, and keeps Akron competitive with other cities, and still allows
the creation of a scholarship program.
Whether to retain in the taxpayer funded divisions approximately 100
extra employees who will not be needed in the sewer department in the event the City
enters into a lease of its sewer system.
The Mayor said "Even though I have offered on numerous occasions to place these 100
employees in other similar paid jobs at the City, the cries to allow voters to decide on
important issues regarding the sewer system have continued. This amendment lets the voters
decide if the employees no longer needed in the sewer department should remain on the City
payroll in taxpayer funded divisions."
If the opportunity exists for taxpayers and rate-payers to save a
significant amount of money, shall the director of public service be authorized to enter
into an operating agreement for terms no longer than five years, rather than a lease or
If the voters decide not to approve the scholarship plan, the City could potentially save
money by only entering into an operating agreement, providing for a short term-five
years-and keeping greater control over the system.
August 16, 2008
To the President and Members of Council:
On July 28, I gave you my draft of the Akron Scholarship Plan and a Wall Street Journal
article reporting a surge in economic development, new housing and tremendous student
success, all as a result of the Kalamazoo Promise, a plan for a free college education for
everyone in the Kalamazoo School District. The Akron Scholarship Plan will pay for the
tuition for Akron students to attend college, trade or technical school. We would
accomplish this, without imposing taxes, by using the proceeds from a long-term lease of
the sewer system.
I have enclosed 5 ordinances which I am respectfully asking you to approve at the
special meeting on Monday, August 18, 5:30 p.m.
The first protects our franchise rights for video services and is needed to meet a
deadline because of a State law change.
The second is our proposal to provide scholarships by leasing the sewer system, as
The third allows us to be competitive with other cities by following State laws if we
find another governmental entity to take over our sewer system. It still provides for any
revenue to be used for scholarships.
The fourth does what many of the opponents of our scholarship plan have demanded. They
say people should vote on important matters concerning the operations of our sewer plant.
While I have personally stated that I would find the approximately 100 employees who would
be affected by our plan to lease the sewer system other jobs with similar pay, it is an
issue Im willing to have the voters decide.
The fifth gives the voters the opportunity to vote, consistent with the cries of some
of the paid out-of-town lobbyists, to authorize for only a short term 5 years
an operating agreement, not a sale or lease, in order to save taxpayers a
significant amount of money.
I will be available to explain in further detail each of these proposals. In the
meantime, please feel free to call me if you have questions. Thank you.
DONALD L. PLUSQUELLIC