Making Democracy Work

Position Statements

The League of Women Voters of Kent expresses a position on various issues of concern to the communities it serves. However, it does so only after a formal study has been conducted, consensus has been reached among the League's members and the text of the position has been approved by the League's board.

The Kent League has official position statments on the following local issues:

  • Parks and Recreation
  • Land Use and Zoning
  • Charter of Kent City
  • Kent City Finances
  • Portage County Jail (Justice System)
  • Kent City Schools

Parks and Recreation

History: The League's position on this issue was adopted in 1965 and updated in 1968, 1985 and 2006

The League supports:

  • Adequate park facilities in Kent and Portage County.
  • Kent City providing park and recreation programs for all ages.
  • Kent City providing adequate funding to maintain these programs. Property tax levies, program and developers' fees are appropriate revenue sources for park and recreation funds.
  • Kent City regulations to allow developers' fees to more closely reflect current land market values in lieu of land for parks.
  • Continued cooperation between the Kent Parks and Recreation Department and the Kent City School System to ensure adequate gymnasium and meeting space for Kent City recreation programming in addition to the continued operation of the community pool at Kent Roosevelt High School.
  • The use of federal/state funds and programs to develop and maintain both city and county parks and programs.
  • Establishment of a broad based source of revenue for the Portage Park District that would provide adequate funds for: the conservation of environmentally sensitive natural areas; a system of greenways and hike/bike trails connecting communities and parkland throughout Portage County; partnerships with townships and municipalities in land conservation projects; expansion of environmental education programs. Specific broad based sources of funding could be a county park levy, designated developers' fees, transfer tax allocations or other viable options.
  • Active planning and collaborative efforts among regional governmental units such as the Portage County Commissioners, townships, municipalities and Portage Park District to enhance the conservation and protection of the natural heritage of Portage County, which might include watersheds, wetlands, forests, and other environmentally sensitive areas.

Land Use and Zoning

History: The League's position on this issue was adopted in 1959 and was updated in 1985 and 1996. A third update began in 1999 was completed in 2003.

The League supports the:

  • Development of a countywide comprehensive plan that incorporates principles of sustainable growth and is consistent with existing land use plans of local governmental subdivisions. This planning process should be undertaken with representation of all governmental subdivisions under the guidance of the Portage County Regional Planning Commission.
  • Updating of the county's subdivision regulations to include encouragement of sustainable development.
  • Adoption by governmental subdivisions of zoning ordinances which are based on the county's comprehensive plan and include:
    > Prescribed setbacks with appropriate vegetation requirements that would establish adequate buffer zones to protect wetlands, floodplains, wildlife habitat, and other environmentally sensitive areas.
    > Conservation development overlay districts that permit higher density cluster homes while designating common open space and wooded lots.
  • Implementation of the Portage County Farmland Preservation Plan that:
    > Establishes growth centers determined by the availability of water, wastewater treatment, and other utility infrastructures.
    > Provides for public financing of PDR's (purchase of development rights).
    > Encourages use of conservation and agricultural easements as well as developer's purchase of TDRs (transfer of development rights).
  • Development of a transportation system throughout the county that is intermodal in nature, including networks of pedestrian and bicycle trails and greenways connecting communities and providing regional transit and rail alternatives to major commercial and employment centers.
  • Meaningful public involvement of stakeholders and citizens, especially neighborhoods and school systems, affected by land use decisions of local government entities.

Charter of Kent City

History: The League's position on this issue was adopted in 1967 and updated in 1975 and 1981. The next Charter Review Committee will convene in 2005.

The League supports:

  • Local self-government for the City of Kent.
  • Retention of a charter for Kent in order that the form of government, system of representation and election system of the city may be locally determined.
  • Continuation of the council-manager form of government for Kent. Full responsibility for the administration of the city should be vested in the manager, the city's chief executive.
  • In conjunction with this form of government, the charter should provide for the appointment of a manager by city council and recognize the subordinate position of staff department heads to the manager. All staff department heads should be appointed by and be responsible to the manager. Department heads, such as the Director of Law and Director of Finance, should not be directly elected by the voters.
  • The present system of electing council both from wards and at-large. Four#year terms for council should be retained, as should the present system of staggering terms. Council should be elected by wards that are substantially equal in population.
  • The retention of partisan elections (candidates listed on the ballot by party).

Kent City Finances

History: The League's position on this issue was adopted in 1983 and updated in 1984. A third update was completed in 2013.

The League believes that the primary responsibility of city government is to provide basic services and therefore supports the provision of the following basic services and funding sources:

  • Fire protection: Property tax, income tax and general fund revenue.
  • Police Protection: Income tax revenue, though not necessarily the sole source of funding.
  • Water and Sewer: Assessment of a fee for each service.
  • Street Upkeep: Income tax revenue, though not necessarily the sole source of funding.
  • Emergency Medical Assistance: Income tax revenue.

The League also believes the city should improve its SCMR (street construction, maintenance and reconstruction) and long-range planning, find ways to enhance the city's economic base and continually promote good working relations among the public, the city administration and Kent State University.

Municipal facilities supporting basic services as outlined in the position, including design, construction, equipment, any necessary property acquisition and debt service, shall be supported through property tax, income tax and general fund revenue, government funding, private grants and user fees as appropriate.

Portage County Jail (Justice) System

History: The League's position on this issue was developed by the Leagues of Woman Voter of Northern Portage County and Kent and was adopted in 1984 and updated in 1997 to change the name to Portage County Justice System. Members voted to update in 1998 and 1999 and to retain since then.

The Leagues supports:

  • An integrated approach to solving jail-related problems through cooperation among the county's judicial, executive and law enforcement branches.
  • The use of alternative sentencing for nonviolent offenders.
  • Financing for the jail from government funds and private grants.

Kent City Schools

History: The League`s position on this issue was adopted in 1986 and updated and condensed in 1999. The following is a statement of the condensed position adopted at the 1999 annual meeting. The position was updated in 2003.

The League of Women Voters of Kent recognizes that the Kent City School District is an exemplary school system that strives to provide students with a quality, comprehensive education. The district has exhibited financial responsibility and stability. The system's ability to be a model educational institution stems from its dedicated, well-trained staff and fine physical facilities that are made possible through voter and community support.

The League supports:

Citizen Participation . . .

  • Ongoing citizen participation in the planning, development and review of all areas of Kent education programs. The League believes that active citizen participation is critical to ensure that the district is responsive to the changing needs of the Kent community that supports it.
  • In order to allow substantive and continuous input, Kent citizens need to be made aware of the health, accomplishments, strengths and weaknesses of the school system. It is the school system's responsibility to provide an aggressive and open public information program that is scheduled into the school calendar, advertised and accessible to all who wish to participate.
  • Encouraging increased citizen participation through the implementation of citizen advisory councils in each building, advertised public hearings, and the appointment of ad hoc committees to address specific concerns, such as facilities planning, curriculum changes and financial planning.

Financial Accountability . . .
  • Recommends that bond issues be considered for capital projects and major improvement projects. The limited use of current operating funds for minor capital improvements is acceptable.

Planning . . .
  • Recommends that the district actively and aggressively seek public input on policy and planning issues--including long-range financial planning and facilities planning--before decisions are made on these matters.
  • Ad hoc committees should have clearly stated goals and time frames that are understood by all who participate. The district should value the results of such efforts and seriously consider any recommendations that are offered and provide feedback as to how the recommendations were addressed.
  • Encourages the ongoing efforts by the district to use feedback: national, state and/or local data to establish planning that will guide and move the district toward improvement.

Curriculum Development . . .
  • Opportunities for individual creativity in writing and a continuing emphasis on critical thinking skills, problem solving and decision-making skills.
  • A well-integrated reading and language arts program that incorporates strategies designed to meet individual learning styles and abilities.
  • The continuing availability and expansion of computers for students. Continuing integration of computers into curricular instruction is recommended along with additional opportunities for distance learning.
  • The wide variety of curriculum and co-curricular offerings at the secondary level.
  • The district's remediation programs that enable students, at all levels, to stay in school and achieve their full potential.

Intergovernmental Cooperation and Regional Tax-Base Revenue Sharing

History: At the 2010 annual meeting, LWV Kent concurred with the position adopted/concnurred in 2009 by the LWVs of Cuyahoga Area, Cleveland Area and Shaker Heights.

The League of Women Voters of Kent supports voluntary intergovernmental, collaborative agreements which reduce costs, foster transparency and accountability, improve efficiencies, and maintain service standards. Such agreements:

  • are appropriate at local, county, metropolitan, multiple county or regional levels;
  • should be practical and of manageable size; and
  • should demonstrate the interconnectedness of all neighboring communities.

The League of Women Voters of Kent supports regional tax-base revenue sharing as a constructive form of intergovernmental cooperation for the mutual benefit of participating communities. Such as program should:
  • advance smart growth, economic development and fiscal equity within the target area;
  • impact positively upon infrastructure, housing, educational, recreation, inclusion and on/or shared public facilities;
  • set standards for finance, staffing and administration that are consistent, accountable, transparent and efficient;
  • pool contributions from an agreed portion of new growth in local commercial and industrial property tax revenue;
  • distribute that revenue pool among participating communities to further fiscal equity across the area;
  • honor local sovereignty and school funding resources, be flexible and grow with time.
  • Formulas for collection and allocations should be determined by the participating communities and periodically reviewed.