Thursday, December 28, 2000

Lebanon to wrestle with money issues

By Cindi Andrews
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        LEBANON — Tonight's City Council agenda is stuffed with controversial spending, ranging from a $10,000 pay raise for the city manager to $164,000 to link the city's computers.

        A network to connect computers in the city's seven buildings is unnecessary, contends Go Concepts President John Gambill Jr., whose company operates Lebanon's city-wide high-speed Internet network. The computers can be securely connected through existing technology for just $700 a building, he said.

        City Manager James Patrick could not be reached for comment.

        Mr. Patrick's proposed raise may spark objections tonight, as some residents criticized an earlier council effort to give him a $10,000 bonus on top of his $70,000 salary.

        Council's agenda also includes legislation to buy bandwidth for its Internet system from Cincinnati Bell rather than current provider Go Concepts — a prospect that has angered some city Internet subscribers.

        Bandwidth is what links Lebanon residents and businesses to e-mail addresses and Web pages outside the Warren County city. Mr. Gambill says his Lebanon company's bid is the lowest and best; Councilman Ben Cole says staffers have advised that Bell will be cheaper as the city system grows.

        Go Concepts sent the city's 600 subscribers an e-mail on the bandwidth contract late Tuesday, prompting dozens to contact city officials on behalf of the company by late Wednesday.

        Another ordinance on the agenda would authorize a $12,000 payment to Deerfield Crossings to settle litigation. A year ago, council halted eminent domain proceedings for 10 acres on Deerfield Road after the developer started clearing the land to build apartments.

        Council also will vote on the 2001 budget. Among highlights: Water rates will increase 4 percent, sewer 6.5 percent and electric 2 percent, City Auditor Greg Dixon said. City employees' salaries will increase 3 percent.


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