University Heights City Council meeting highlights 10-18-10

OCTOBER 18, 2010

  • Civilian Emergency Response Team (CERT)
  • Leaf pickup
  • TIF Accounting error
  • Clear Wireless LLC
  • Legal observance of New Year’s Day
  • New flood insurance maps
  • Moratorium on sweepstakes terminal cafes
  • Cuyahoga County Municipal Energy Program
  • Cleveland First-Suburbs Development Council

All council members were present.

Civilian Emergency Response Team (CERT)

Former council member and current director of CERT, Peter Bernardo asked council to support CERT in its efforts to recruit new volunteers. CERT now provides emergency traffic and police support, staffs emergency shelters, and makes home checks in times of emergency. New volunteers should contact Win Weiser.

Leaf pickup

Mayor Infeld announced that the city’s leaf pick up would end December 1, 2010.

TIF accounting error

Virginia Benjamin, Esq., of Calfee, Halter & Griswold and bond counsel for the city, was asked to come before council to answer questions about the accounting error regarding the Tax Increment Financing (TIF) pass-through account. She reported that the county is requesting that the city establish a Tax Incentive Review Council (TIRC). This should have been done in 2001 when the TIF was established for University Square.

A TIRC determines if there is an increase in the land value, the value of property improvements, and the number of new or retained employees as a result of the property improvements. Benjamin explained that the property owner pays taxes on the base value of the property prior to improvements, and pays service fees on the value of the improvements and the increase in value. Although there is no penalty for not having created a TIRC, there’s no reason not to create one at this time. The new county executive would appoint one member and Mayor Infeld would appoint two. Later in the meeting council approved the creation of the TIRC.

The day after the last council meeting, the city transferred $500,000, which is approximately 25 percent of what is owed, to the trustees. Benjamin has tentatively determined that the school district is owed more than $2 million because they were due the full amount of the increased tax levies, which was not paid. She is attempting to resolve both the missed payment and the lack of levy increases. The plan is to finish paying the moneys owed by the end of 2011.

Councilman Frank Consolo asked if the mayor was authorized to send a payment of $500,000 without council approval. The law director noted that the moneys were due two years ago and, as part of a pass-through account, they are not approved by council. The city simply administers the funds. Responding to further questions by Consolo, Finance Director Jennifer Esarey reported that the account has sufficient money to pay the full amount due now, but she is still conducting an audit of revenues received and obligations still due to be paid out. Payment in full would deplete the city’s finances.

Nobody has yet notified the city’s auditor of its failure to identify the missed payment. Law Director Kenneth Fisher will send a notice regarding the oversight.

Clear Wireless LLC

Council approved an ordinance to add Clear Wireless LLC to the monopole behind City Hall. The lease to Clear Wireless will yield additional revenue of $60,000 in 2010.

Legal observance of New Year’s Day

An ordinance presented on first reading would change the legal observance of New Year’s Day 2011 from Friday, Dec. 31, 2010 to Monday, Jan. 3, 2011 for service union and non-union employees in order to keep the holiday in the correct year.

New flood insurance maps

An ordinance presented on first reading would amend the city code according to the requirements of the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) standard flood control ordinance. City Engineer Joe Ciuni explained that new flood insurance maps would go into effect Dec. 3 and FEMA is asking all communities to revise their regulations accordingly. University Heights has no areas that are in the 100-year flood plain.

Moratorium on sweepstakes cafes

Council approved establishing a temporary moratorium on sweepstakes terminal cafes. Building Commissioner David Menn had received four calls in the previous week about opening an Internet café. The legality of these cafes is unclear, with contradictory rulings in court cases thus far.

Cuyahoga County Municipal Energy Program

Council authorized submission of an application to participate in the Cuyahoga County Municipal Energy Program, which provides funds for energy audits of municipal facilities.

Cleveland First-Suburbs Development Council

Council authorized the execution and delivery of a petition, articles of incorporation, and initial plan of the Cleveland First-Suburbs Development Council Advanced Energy Special Improvement District. The city is required to have a visible energy education program, and pay a $50 fee. The pilot program will make solar panels available.

LWV observer: Wendy Deuring.

These meeting summaries are abstracted from LWV observers’ written reports. The summaries have been edited and prepared by Anne McFarland, Charlene Morse and Maryann Barnes. To receive e-mail postings of full reports, send an e-mail to or join through Google groups using “lwv-chuh observer reports” as a search phrase.

These reports contain member observation and selected highlights of public meetings and are not official statements of the Heights Chapter of the League of Women Voters Cuyahoga Area. This disclaimer must accompany any redistribution of these reports.


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Volume 3, Issue 12, Posted 5:25 PM, 11.10.2010