NORTHFIELD CENTER — Placing a bond issue on the November ballot to buy the former FirstMerit Bank for use as the Township Hall is one step closer after trustees adopted a resolution of necessity at their July 1 meeting.

Because of a slew of problems with the aging current Township Hall, trustees are pursuing the purchase of the 6,200-square-foot former bank branch at 9447 Olde Eight Road, and a bond issue is necessary to do that under state law.

Trustees now will request that the Summit County Fiscal Office certify the current tax valuation of the township to determine the relevant millage that would be needed to finance a $1.4 million bond. It is expected to be around 0.46-mill.

Trustees plan for the bond issue to extend for a maximum period of 30 years at an estimated interest rate not to exceed 4.25 percent per year. If passed by voters, the levy would commence in 2019, with first collection in 2020.

Township Administrator Steve Wright explained that once the county fiscal office determines the tax valuation, millage and tax burden for each property owner, trustees must adopt a resolution to submit the levy to the Summit County Board of Elections.

Trustees have been talking for the past several weeks about whether to renovate the existing Township Hall, built in 1905, or to buy or build another facility. The recent meetings included a forum for the public to express opinions.

Trustees also have discussed what to do about the fire station located beside the current Township Hall. They decided to pursue the purchase of the bank building now, and keep the current fire station in operation until a decision is made down the road on what to do with it.

Trustee Rich Reville said at a previous meeting that trustees are hoping they can finance fire station renovations or a new building with available township funds, and not go back to voters for more tax money.

"I believe we need to move forward with facility improvements, and I think buying the bank building is a good option," Trustee Russ Mazzola said at a previous meeting. The bank was built in 1973 and sets on 3.22 acres.

Township resident Mona Brockman told trustees she and many other residents do not want to see the existing Township Hall torn down, citing its century-old heritage. Mazzola said he agrees the old building should remain in place.

However, if the bond issue passes and the bank building is bought, trustees would have to decide what to do with the old Township Hall. Demolition, repurposing it under township ownership or selling it are some options.

Resident Marc Pepera encouraged trustees to come up with a long-range plan for facilities, because "the community deserves to know what’s going on with our facilities."

Reporter Ken Lahmers can be reached at 330-541-9400, ext. 4189 or klahmers@recordpub.com.