Canal Winchester: City Council to give more study to anti-racism resolution

Scott Gerfen
ThisWeek
City of Canal Winchester

Canal Winchester City Council agreed to spend more time working on the details of a resolution that condemns racism in the city before actually voting on it. 

Council members voted unanimously during a Nov. 16 work session to table a resolution that “condemns racism and discriminatory practices in all forms” and “encourages and supports anti-discriminatory practices among all community partners, grantees, vendors and contractors.” 

“This is the first step in what should be a multistep process,” Councilman Will Bennett said of the resolution. “This should not be the last time we take action on equality and racism. This is not something that’s going to be done by one ordinance.” 

The legislation could be sent to full council during the next regularly scheduled meeting Monday, Nov. 30. It also expresses support for the Fairfield County Sheriff’s Office, Madison Township Police Department, Lithopolis Police Department “and the many other law enforcement officers and departments of neighboring jurisdictions.” 

“I think it’s important we address what the community is asking for and we put some teeth into it, like we’ve said numerous times,” Councilwoman Jill Amos said. 

In September, council appeared ready to declare racism a public-health crisis, following the lead of a handful of cities, including Columbus and Youngstown, as well as Franklin County Public Health, which serves Canal Winchester. It was one of the first public agencies nationally to formally declare racism as a public health crisis in May. 

In doing so, Franklin County Public Health noted that Black Ohioans have shorter life expectancies, higher likelihoods of death by heart disease or stroke and higher infant mortality rates, among other indicators. 

Canal Winchester City Council has discussed including the health department’s new deputy director of equity and inclusion, Lisa Dent, in the conversation. 

“Franklin County manages a lot more turf and a lot more people, and how do we know we’re addressing every issue we should be addressing?” council Vice President Mike Coolman asked. “Do we know that for a fact? I would like their input on that.” 

Council President Mike Walker said “getting it right for the community” is important. 

“We hear things out in the public, like, ‘Well, why hasn’t this been done by now?’ ” he said. “Well, with COVID-19 being here and waiting for Franklin County … that has been a big part of the wait. We also had Mr. Milliken and Ms. Amos working together.” 

Both Amos and Councilman Chuck Milliken have proposed draft resolutions. However, Amos’ didn’t send her draft to council members until the morning of the Nov. 16 meeting, so it was not included with the meeting agenda, which is posted the Friday before council meetings. 

“Between the two resolutions, we’re not really that far off,” Milliken said. “Let’s just get something foundational that we can all agree on.”   

Water, sewer rates stay stable 

Canal Winchester residents and businesses will not pay more for water and sewer services next year as originally planned thanks to council’s unanimous approval of an ordinance that keeps rates at current levels for 2021. 

Two years ago, council approved a four-year rate schedule that called for no increases in 2019 and 2020 and 2% increases for 2021 and 2022. 

The city’s approximately 2,800 residential and business customers currently pay $6.33 per 1,000 gallons of water and $5.88 per 1,000 gallons for sewer service. 

According to information from the city, a typical family of four uses about 4,000 gallons of water monthly, which equates to a $50 bill. 

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