University Heights City Council meeting highlights 10-15-12

OCTOBER 15, 2012

  • Special meeting, preceding the regular meeting, on proposal to merge fire departments

All council members were present.

Proposal to merge fire departments

Phil Kouwe of Emergency Services Consulting International presented his company’s proposal to merge the fire departments of University Heights and Shaker Heights. The study was paid for with $25,000 from the Cleveland Foundation, $8,000 from University Heights, and $17,000 from Shaker Heights. The remaining $15,000 from the Cleveland Foundation grant is to be used for implementation costs.

The company evaluated the current levels of service and need in each city and considered financial and logistical factors and public information from each community.

Both departments are structurally and operationally similar, and share a joint dispatch center with Cleveland Heights. Shaker Heights has four and a half administrative staff and 51 operational staff in two fire stations. The city owns two engines, three ambulances, and one ladder truck. University Heights has one administrative staff (the chief) and 26 operational staff in one fire station. University Heights owns one engine, two ambulances and one ladder truck.

The current two fire chiefs should be reduced to one with the possibility of adding a training position. Using a four-minute response model, the area of the three firehouses overlap and could be reduced to two stations. Two of the proposed models keep all three firehouses, and two eliminate one, presumably the one on Warrensville Center Road in Shaker Heights. All four options allow a higher ratio of personnel to residents than the regional and national medians. In a new government entity combining the two service units into one, both cities would still have a say in the governance, but Shaker Heights, which has a larger administration, would most likely be the administrator.

All proposals reduce the number of employees. The first proposal, recommended by Kouwe, would eliminate one ladder truck and six positions (two people on each of three shifts). This projected savings is $750,000 per year.

The many firefighters present expressed concerne that University Heights would be second to Shaker Heights in assignment of resources, and that positions would be eliminated. Both University Heights Mayor Susan Infield and Shaker Heights Mayor Earl Leiken emphasized that this single department would serve both communities equally, just as the already merged dispatch does. Regarding the reduction of six positions, the two departments are already covering seven retirements through overtime. No additional people would lose their jobs and one person would perhaps be hired.

Each city is to consider the proposals and further refine the information. The final proposal is expected before the end of 2012. It is a feasibility study and not an implementation guide. The actual process of merging the two departments will take some time.

LWV observer: Wendy Deuring.

OCTOBER 15, 2012 regular meeting

  • UH ballot issue
  • Leaf pickup
  • Tree trimming and removal
  • Service door
  • Tullamore Road nuisance porch
  • Kenneth J. Fisher honored
  • Roadway resurfacing
  • Marijuana possession
  • Anthony J. Coyne
  • Rental properties
  • Technology Advisory Commission

All council members were present.

UH ballot issue

Mayor Susan Infeld urged people to vote for the University Heights ballot issue to align with other communities in Cuyahoga County by increasing the number of days between a local election and the candidate petition deadline.

Leaf pickup

Leaf pickup has already begun and will continue through Dec. 1.

Tree trimming and removal

Council authorized the city to advertise for bids for two tree trimming and removal projects. One project is for the southwest and northwest portions of the city, and the other is for 150 trees along Washington Boulevard. These bids will complete work in Zone one; Zone two, the northeast section, will be addressed next year.

Service door

Council approved a contract with Advance Door Company in an amount not to exceed $14,375 to install an overhead bay door next to the existing door in the mechanic’s garage. There have been two bays, but only one door. This improvement was included in the 2012 budget.

Tullamore Road nuisance porch

Council declared the front porch at 3505 Tullamore Road a nuisance. A second motion will be presented at the next council meeting to authorize repair. The cost will be appended to the property tax bill for the house.

Kenneth J. Fisher honored

Council approved a resolution honoring Kenneth J. Fisher for 15 years of service as law director for University Heights.

Roadway resurfacing

Council authorized Mayor Infeld to seek funding from the Ohio Public Works Commission for the restoration of roadway resurfacing for Washington Boulevard from Cedar to Silsby roads, and for Silsby Road from Warrensville Center Road to South Belvoir Boulevard.

Marijuana possession

Council reduced the penalty for possession of marijuana drug paraphernalia from a fourth degree to a minor misdemeanor, bringing local laws into alignment with legislation passed by the Ohio legislature. The penalty in the most extreme case could cause a violator to lose his driver’s license. The penalty is at the discretion of the judge.

Anthony J. Coyne

Council appointed Anthony J. Coyne as law director effective Nov. 1. His pay will be $45,000 per year plus $175 per hour for extra litigation services authorized by council.

Rental properties

Councilwoman Adele Zucker, chair of the building committee, announced that, according to the building director, there are 723 rental properties in the city of University Heights.

Technology Advisory Commission

Councilwoman Susan Pardee, chair of the civic information committee, announced that the committee is looking for community members to join the newly formed Technology Advisory Commission. Those interested should send a letter to the clerk of council.

LWV observer: Wendy Deuring.

[Unfortunately the Heights Chapter of the League of Women Voters of Cuyahoga Area is only able to cover one meeting per month of the University Heights City Council due to a shortage of volunteers.  We will continue to cover at least one meeting per month and will seek more volunteers with the hope of returning to full coverage.  If you appreciate and enjoy reading our reports perhaps you would like to help us continue this service to the community by joining the League and our Observer Corps. To learn more please contact Maryann Barnes: by email— or by phone—216 321-7525.]

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.

League of Women Voters

Observer Corps editor for the Heights Chapter of the League of Women Voters, Cuyahoga Area

Read More on University Heights
Volume 5, Issue 12, Posted 2:41 PM, 11.05.2012