Councilman Mark Cerreta introduced a plan at Tuesday night’s North Canton City Council meeting that would help disaster victims like those affected by and flooding — and would create a sense of community at the same time.
Cerreta talked that night of a North Canton Community Disaster Relief Fund that would consist of voluntary donations. Residents would give consent to donate on their city tax form. He proposed residents donate $5, while private and corporate sponsors also could donate in special cases.
The city often spends money on physical things such as water towers and road repairs, Cerreta said, but what is its role when its residents need help?
“Now we have a situation here where our people are in despair,” Cerreta said. “So now maybe it’s time to look at some things where we can help them out in the future.”
The city would keep the money in a separate account maintained by the finance department. Money would be given out after approval from a committee comprising two council members, two city administration members and two residents.
Law Director Hans Nilges said the disaster relief fund is possible, but there are many legal hurdles before it can become a reality.
Councilman Pat DeOrio stood behind the plan.
“I think this is one of the best ideas I’ve ever heard from municipal government, and I think Mark should be commended,” he said. “I just can’t speak highly enough of this idea.”
DeOrio said because the relief fund is made up of residents’ donations, it likely will strengthen the city’s sense of community.
“This is North Cantonians helping North Cantonians,” he said.
He suggested allowing private and corporate parties to donate not only in special cases, but anytime. And he encouraged Cerreta to tweak his original plan to keep money coming into the fund throughout the year by making options available to donate on the city’s website, by phone through the finance department and in person at City Hall.
Council members agreed to move forward with the discussion in the coming weeks.