STOW -- City Council President Mike Rasor said he believes that an amendment to cut the Stow Municipal Court clerk of court's nearly $1.3-million operating budget is justified.

Council unanimously approved the amendment just before unanimously approving the budget March 23.

Rasor said he arrived at the figure first by removing $17,000 to equalize the budget to what it was last year after Council reduced a $171,000 budget increase request to $100,000 early in the year.

Rasor said he then cut another $30,000 because there was a 27th pay period in 2016, a condition that increased employee costs in 2016 that will not occur this year,

"That's a fair adjustment in my opinion," he said.

But Rasor said he then restored $16,000 in recognition of a 2 percent pay increase employees received this year.

Clerk of Court Diana Colavecchio told the Stow Sentry March 30 that she does not agree that the reduction is justified.

"Last year we came in $12,000 under budget," she said. "This year our proposed budget was $33,000 less than last year's budget and we have fewer full-time employees. My staff has worked hard to make this office run efficiently and in fact, last year we generated revenues that were 2.67 percent higher than in 2015. I'm beyond proud of the accomplishments we've made in a short period of time. So, given that our spending is headed downward, our efficiency is headed upward, and the court is self-funded with user fees and not city general fund revenues, it struck me as highly unusual that Council saw fit to again reduce the clerk's budget. No other department was cut. Stow residents should be asking their Council representatives for an explanation because I sure don't have one."

Rasor noted during the March 23 Council meeting that at the request of Colavecchio, Council approved an increase in the clerk's budget last summer.

"She asked for $25,000 more and we gave it to her and that same relief could be available to her this year if it looks like this is not a feasible budget number to her," said Rasor.

Councilor Jim Costello said this made the change acceptable to him.

"As long as she has that same ability to come back, I have no problem with [the reduction]," said Costello.

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