University Heights City Council meeting highlights 4-2-12

MONDAY, APRIL 2, 2012

  • Proposed park on Saybrook
  • Municipal income tax collection
  • Relay for Life
  • Schools facilities plans
  • National Library Week
  • 3954 Silsby Road
  • Fair housing ordinance update
  • Audit services
  • Car leasing for police department
  • Issuance of bonds
  • Pool chemicals
  • Finance director
  • Internet cafes

All council members were present.

Proposed park on Saybrook

Resident Sheila Hubman raised concerns about the proposed park on Saybrook Road, noting many unanswered questions about the existing building, security plans, lighting, hours and resources. Responding to Hubman, Mayor Susan Infeld maintained that if council approves land acquisition for the proposed park, the city would draw from a $4-million surplus for the purchase and demolition of the building (with a possible grant to help). There is no money in the budget to staff a community center or to build or renovate a building. After acquisition, a commission would be appointed to study and determine specific usages. Later in the meeting, an ordinance authorizing a purchase agreement with The Leonard and Susan Fuchs Mizrachi School (the Saybrook property) was entered on first reading. Payment of the $600,000 purchase price would be on a three-two-one schedule, with $300,000 paid in the first year.

Municipal income tax collection

The state is moving ahead with legislation for income tax uniformity, which, if approved, would remove separate collection agencies for municipalities, such as RITA. The mayor expressed concern about ramifications, e.g., timely payment to the city.

Relay for Life

The Relay for Life fundraiser for cancer will use the John Carroll University campus for 12 hours on April 14, which will not include overnight use.

Schools facilities plans

The mayor attended a Cleveland Heights-University Heights Schools facilities meeting and was dismayed to learn that the proposed plan included closing Gearity School, and the four remaining elementary schools would all be in Cleveland Heights. Councilwoman Susan Pardee noted that one of those is Canterbury, which is one street from University Heights and enrolls 190 UH students. Currently, 170 UH students are at Gearity. Council had an extended discussion about the detrimental effects this plan would have on University Heights, especially the Gearity neighborhood. School Board President Karen Gorman Jones has suggested a meeting with the UH council after the community meeting at Heights High on April 18. Council was dissatisfied that this had not been offered earlier. The mayor proposed a University Heights town meeting with school board members on April 11, to assure that more UH residents are aware of the proposed plan. Council will discuss a draft resolution at the April 16 council meeting.

National Library Week

The mayor read a proclamation, which was presented to Aurora Martinez, University Heights Branch Library director, proclaiming the week of April 8–14 National Library Week, and thanking Martinez and the library for their many services to the community. Referencing the earlier discussion on the schools facilities plan, Martinez said she would contact the school district for materials to be available at the library, and staff would assist residents in accessing further information online.

3954 Silsby Road

Council authorized purchase of 3954 Silsby Road on second reading/emergency. The law director noted that a point-of-sale inspection showed 35 violations, including the exterior of the house, driveway, garage, and cracked walls. Acquisition of structures on the property will be in their present condition. The city owns another house two doors away, behind the municipal complex.

Fair housing ordinance update

Council amended Chapter 820 of the city code to update protected classes to which fair housing provisions are applicable. Chapter 820 has not been updated since 1996. New protected classes in the amendment, as recommended by the Housing Research & Advocacy Center, are sexual orientation, military status, gender identification, and “association with a protected class or source of income” (individuals providing services in homes, e.g., Hospice, VNA, health aides).

Audit services

Council Members Steven Sims, Adele Zucker, Frankie Goldberg and Philip Ertel voted no to defeat authorization of an agreement with James G. Zupka, C.P.A., Inc. for audit services for the periods ending Dec. 31, 2011 through Dec. 31, 2014. Councilman Sims questioned why council had not had input into the chosen firm or the cost, and pointed out that council had problems with this firm on the previous audit. Interim Finance Director Anthony Ianiro explained that the State Audit Office is charged to provide municipal audits. If they choose to outsource, only firms with appropriate experience and certification to do municipal audits are eligible. A technical evaluation by the State Audit Office, and separately by the municipal finance director, and the proposed cost determines the selection. Zupka rated highest on the evaluation and the bid was $13,000 less than the next highest.

Car leasing for police department

Council authorized an agreement with Statewide Municipal Leasing to lease two 2012 Dodge Chargers for the police department. There will be three equal payments for both cars of $22,000 each year, with the option to purchase in year three.

Issuance of bonds

An ordinance providing for the issuance and sale of notes in anticipation of the issuance of bonds in the principal amount not to exceed $2,487,000 for various purposes was entered on first reading. Responding to Councilman Sims’s question whether bonds should be issued rather than notes, Interim Finance Director Ianiro said bonds were a lesser choice because twelve different purpose areas are included in the package. Sims also asked if new investment bankers had been approached. Both the mayor and the finance director said the difference with another firm, if any, would be negligible, and Tim Reidy has filled the role satisfactorily for the past few years. The law director suggested that a representative from the city’s bond counsel be invited to the next meeting.

Pool chemicals

Council authorized the purchase of pool chemicals for 2012 at an approximate amount of $10,000, as the exact amount of chemicals needed cannot be predicted. Nineteen communities jointly solicited quotes, with Mayfield Heights acting as agent.

Finance director

This was Interim Finance Director Anthony Ianiro’s last meeting. He has also left his position with Highland Heights and plans to retire. Mayor Infeld introduced the newly hired finance director, Larry Heiser, CPA, who was most recently finance director in Johnstown, Ohio, near Columbus.

Internet cafes

Police Chief Hammett reported he had met with an official from the State Attorney General’s office regarding Internet cafes. He noted that cities could prosecute only upon proven illegal activity. The Attorney General’s representative advised continuing the moratorium on such businesses until there is concrete legislation to ban them.

LWV Observer: Patricia Solomon.

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 mbarnes9515@gmail.com 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.

League of Women Voters

Chapter co-chair for the Heights Chapter of the League of Women Voters, Cuyahoga Area

Read More on University Heights
Volume 5, Issue 5, Posted 2:09 PM, 04.21.2012