Akron -- Summit County At-large Councilor Bill Roemer made a campaign promise in November 2010 to give back to the community if the county did not balance the budget.
Two years into his four-year term, the Richfield resident is keeping that promise, donating $11,850, or half of his $23,700 annual Council salary, to 22 local charities, including a non-profit in Twinsburg.
"When I was running for office in 2010, I was looking for some way to give back," Roemer said Feb. 14. "It certainly provides an incentive to work as diligently as possible to balance the budget."
The retired CPA with a fiscally conservative philosophy also declined benefits issued to elected officials in Summit County, including health, pension, vision and dental, an estimated savings of between $8,000 and $10,000 for the county, Roemer said. He also turned down the stipend issued by the county to officials who decline benefits, $50 per month or $600 per year.
Roemer added he did not know if his 10 colleagues on Council shared his philosophy.
"I did this because I wanted to do it … I've not discussed it with anyone else," he said. "I believe in meeting my commitments and learning about the community."
In 2011, Summit County showed expenditures of $101.7 million and revenue of $99.9 million, resulting in a deficit of $1.8 million in the general fund. In 2012, Roemer said the county budget once again finished in the red, with $100 million in expenditures and $97 million taken in, for a deficit of $3 million.
"I plan to donate half my salary again next year as well," Roemer said.
Summit County experienced a loss of about $5 million last year in Local Government Funds from the state, the cause of much of the deficits over the past two years, Roemer said.
To decide which charities received what amounts, Roemer formed a committee in 2012 and accepted proposals from non-profits. The committee comprised philanthropist Mary Serpentini; Dan Bell, attorney with Jackson Lewis, LLP and chairman of Summit County Children's Services; Kevin Crum, CPA with Crum, Buchanan and Associates and chairman of the Summit County Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services Board; and the Rev. Jeffrey J. Jemison, pastor of St. John Baptist Church.
The largest donations were made to the Battered Women's Shelter; International Institute of Akron; Open M; The Boys and Girls Club of the Western Reserve; Victim Assistance Program; and Flashes of Hope Pediatric Cancer.
A Twinsburg non-profit, Success Images, a mentoring program that pairs successful adults with at-risk teens, also received money.