University Heights City Council meeting highlights 8-13-12
AUGUST 13, 2012
- McDonald’s request for extended hours
- New boiler
- New lighting
- Office of Emergency Management
- Transfer of funds
- Texting while driving
- False alarm penalties
- Employee health care
- Narrowbanding project
Councilwoman Adele Zucker was excused.
McDonald’s request for extended hours
After council allowed comments regarding McDonald’s request to extend their hours, Annie Rawlinson of Bushnell Road expressed her concern about people turning right onto Bushnell despite the sign prohibiting it. She suggested a police presence might help. She appreciates that McDonald’s employees pick up trash along Bushnell, but would prefer that people not be allowed to eat in their cars in the parking lot.
Council approved McDonald’s request to extend their hours until 11 p.m. for dine-in and midnight for drive-thru. Owner Dave Stiles explained that because of the college students, they have much business after 9 p.m. and are having to turn customers away at 10 p.m. He noted that since the store opened they’ve received two complaints regarding trash and none regarding noise and lighting. The exterior lighting is less bright than it was from the previous building. Regarding litter patrols, McDonald’s patrols litter for one block around the store and picks up all litter, McDonald’s and other. Stiles also noted that they are removing some of the arborvitae near the back door, which enabled a thief to hide, and are removing or replacing bushes that died. Although McDonald’s Corporation is asking stores to be open 24/7, Mr. Stiles said he wouldn’t request this because the traffic doesn’t warrant it. There are currently 78 employees and he is promoting people to managers from within the current staff.
Council approved the purchase of a new boiler for the police department. David Menn, building commissioner, submitted this purchase request to Cuyahoga County as part of the recent energy audit and received a grant from the county. The city will pay $13,875 to Central Heating and Air, which recently installed the new HVAC unit and was the low bidder. The county will reimburse the city.
Council approved installing new lighting in the police department. This too will be funded by a grant from Cuyahoga County to reduce energy costs. Lighting throughout the police station will improve by replacing current fixtures with higher efficiency and better quality lighting at a cost of $13,750, to be refunded by Cuyahoga County.
Office of Emergency Management
Council approved the Cuyahoga County Department of Public Safety and Justice Services, Office of Emergency Management, to be the city’s countywide emergency management agency. Every municipality must have an emergency management system. The county has revised their policies and procedures and is now asking each municipality to renew their option. The county agency will step in when an emergency exceeds the capacity of the city, such as the major flooding which occurred earlier this year.
Transfer of funds
Council authorized the standard second quarter transfer of funds from the general fund to the police pension fund ($95,000), the fire pension fund ($125,000), and the debt service fund ($80,000), as well as payments to the capital improvements fund to replace funds used for police radios and the scooter.
Texting while driving
Council approved prohibiting the use of electronic wireless communication devices for texting while driving. This would allow local code enforcement of the recently passed state law prohibiting texting while driving as a secondary offense for adults. Paul Miller of Charney Road asked council to ban all use of cell phones. Ken Fisher, city attorney, noted that the ordinance could be expanded in the future. Council also voted to prohibit the use of these devices by holders of temporary instruction permits under age 18 and holders of probationary driver’s licenses for any purpose while operating a motor vehicle. This mirrors the state law for juveniles. Councilman Steven Sims abstained from voting, expressing a concern about increased chances for juveniles to face legal penalties.
False alarm penalties
Council approved reducing the penalty for false alarms from the current fourth degree misdemeanor to a minor misdemeanor. Fourth degree sentences can have severe consequences to people in certain professions and was considered unnecessarily harsh for the offense.
Employee health care
Council approved updating the health care benefit eligibility provisions for employees. Current legislation required new employees to complete a 90-day probationary period before receiving health insurance. This ordinance will reduce the wait period to the first day of the following month after hiring.
Council authorized an agreement with Independence Communications for the purchase of communication equipment, the Narrowbanding project, in an amount not to exceed $76,360. This equipment will be used for police radios, in compliance with an FCC mandate to reduce the communication bands used from 25 KHz to 12.5 KHz. The new equipment must be in place by January 2013 and was included in the budget for 2012.
LWV observer: Wendy Deuring.
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