University Heights City Council meeting highlights 4-16-12

APRIL 16, 2012

  • Fuchs Mizrachi School property
  • Resident being sued
  • Gearity School
  • Gesu boys basketball team
  • New finance director
  • Julian Rogers to represent UH
  • Street resurfacing and marking
  • Renewal of notes
  • Pension fund transfers
  • Height of grass
  • Recreational fee changes
  • Police department restructuring
  • Senior transportation
  • Deadline change
  • James Zupka, CPA
  • Course for realtors

All council members were present.

Fuchs Mizrachi School property

Responding to a resident’s question regarding the demolition cost of the former Fuchs Mizrachi School, Mayor Susan Infeld said the county land bank estimated $200,000 including asbestos abatement. A bond issue would pay the costs. The building might be maintained for a community center. Council authorized a purchase agreement with The Leonard and Susan Fuchs Mizrachi School. Vice Mayor Frankie Goldberg abstained. The funds being used are surplus revenue from 2011. The mayor commented that the park is feasible and that this is the last large piece of open land in the community. Residents who wish to serve on the park committee should contact city hall. Other resident comments about the purchase included the need for green space for children to grow and a concern that property purchases will bankrupt the city and are unnecessary.

Resident being sued

A resident expressed frustration over being sued by the building department. While away taking care of his ill son, he received several housing violations and was sued for failure to respond in a timely fashion. Now that the violations have been fixed, he asked that the lawsuit be withdrawn. The mayor and law director, Ken Fisher, explained that this is an administrative issue and not a council issue. Mayor Infeld noted that if the violations have been cleared, he should contact the court.

Gearity School

Jodi Sourini of Fenwick Road spoke on behalf of the parents of Gearity School who oppose its closing. They feel the closing would be devastating to the City of University Heights and would reduce home sales. Mayor Infeld agreed and urged all residents to contact the school board members.

Gesu boys basketball team

Members of the eighth grade boys basketball team from Gesu School received certificates of recognition for winning the CYO City Basketball Championship.

New finance director

Larry Heiser was sworn in as the new finance director. This was his first day of work for the city. He will be moving to University Heights from Bexley, a suburb of Columbus.

Julian Rogers to represent UH

Julian Rogers, county councilman, was scheduled to provide an update on county governance but postponed his comments due to the lengthy agenda. Due to redrawn districts, Rogers will represent University Heights as of January 2013. He noted that he attended Gearity Elementary School and gave out his personal phone number to all present if they wanted to contact him.

Street resurfacing and marking

For the 2012 street resurfacing project, council authorized Burton Scot Contractors Inc. to resurface three streets at a cost not to exceed $281,881.50. This bid was obtained in conjunction with Shaker Heights to receive a volume discount. Council authorized A&A Safety for pavement marking and street striping for $89,148 total for three years covering 2012–14. This was also a joint bid with Shaker Heights. The chief of police will oversee the street painting. All streets will be done at least once over the next three years.

Renewal of notes

Council approved 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. Bond Counsel Gigi Benjamin of Calfee Halter explained that this is a routine renewal of notes. New notes will be issued for sale now to pay off the notes that are due on May 2.

Pension fund transfers

Council approved transferring $115,000 to the police pension fund and $149,000 to the fire pension fund from the general fund.

Height of grass

Council amended the city code by removing the time periods for the permitted height of grass, which used to be enforced May 1 to Nov. 1. Due to the changing weather, the building department has already received multiple complaints about tall grass.

Recreational fee changes

Council amended the rules and regulations for the operation of recreational facilities. Councilwoman Pamela Cameron, chair of the recreation committee, supported the recreation staff’s recommendation of changing the fee schedule. Most significant was the increased cost of a family pass by $45. Rates were last changed in 2007 and the recreation department has had difficulty covering its costs.

Police department restructuring

Council amended the agreement between the city and the Ohio Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association. In 2011, five patrol officers retired. The new police chief conducted a work order assessment to determine necessary staffing levels and found that the department could operate at reduced levels. Also, there was a need for better property management (items held as evidence), training, and management of the jail. The department will need to shuffle staff a bit and cultivate leadership.

Senior transportation

Council authorized a six-month agreement with Senior Transportation Connection for transportation services. This is a continuation of the previous agreement, allowing for a limited numbers of trips to control the cost. The contract will be in effect from May 1 to Oct. 1.

Deadline change

An ordinance to amend the city charter to change the deadline for filing nominating petitions with the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections was presented on first reading. This would increase the deadline from 60 to 90 days. University Heights is one of only a few communities with a 60-day deadline, which creates a very short processing time for the board of elections. This ordinance, if passed, will put this issue on the November ballot.

James Zupka, CPA

Council approved the appointment of James Zupka, CPA to conduct the annual city audit. Councilmen Steven Sims and Philip Ertel voted no. The state auditor chose this firm to conduct the audit. Sim’s claims that the city has had a prior negative history with this firm, but both Finance Director Larry Heiser and Interim Finance Director Anthony Ianiro have positive impressions of Mr. Zupka. Concerns may be expressed to the state auditor, but the city does not have a choice in this appointment.

Course for realtors

Councilwoman Susan Pardee announced that the city will be offering a course to realtors, introducing them to the many virtues of University Heights and enabling them to earn three continuing education units.

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 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.

Read More on University Heights
Volume 5, Issue 6, Posted 9:15 AM, 05.07.2012