University Heights City Council meeting highlights 2-19-13
FEBRUARY 19, 2013
- Thomas Cozzens
- Mark N. Wiseman
- Andrew Boylan
- JCU and HRRC programs
- Fire department consolidation
- Public comments: Fire department consolidation, Water bills, Northwood School
- Traffic signal repair
- Uniformity of tax collections
- Fund transfers
All council members were present.
Family members of [former councilman] Thomas Cozzens received proclamations from the Ohio General Assembly and Ohio Senate, his name plaque and copies of condolence messages. Council also presented a plaque, which included a cartoon honoring Cozzens from the Sun Press.
Mark N. Wiseman
Mark N. Wiseman was sworn in to fill Thomas Cozzens' seat until the November election. Wiseman is a practicing attorney with expertise in housing and foreclosures. He has lived in University Heights for 25 years and served on the Charter Review Commission. During the public participation portion of the meeting, resident Sally Martin, a housing manager for South Euclid who has worked with Wiseman on the Housing Council, said that he is a “rock star” in housing policy circles.
Andrew Boylan was sworn in as a lieutenant in the fire department, responsible for fire prevention. He also serves as a lieutenant in the Chagrin Falls fire department. Both positions are part time.
JCU and HRRC programs
John Carroll University (JCU) offers free public forums. The next topic will be on eating disorders. Home Repair Resource Center (HRRC) now offers classes to the broader community. Information can be found at www.hrrc-ch.org.
Fire department consolidation
Mayor Susan Infield sent a letter out to the community in response to postcards distributed to households by members of the fire department. Some residents feared they would be unable to call 911 after the merger. The memorandum of understanding is only the first step toward a continuing conversation. The finance directors and mayors [of University Heights and Shaker Heights] are meeting to determine financial considerations. The two fire chiefs will then meet to discuss operation considerations, and then the unions will join the discussion for labor considerations. The final step will be a vote by each of the city councils.
Fire department consolidation: A number of residents addressed the fire consolidation issue during the public participation portion of the meeting. Ken Dobbs thanked the mayor for her comments that the merger of the fire departments is still being explored. Yanina Muzis commented that there were never any financial issues in the city when Beryl Rothschild was mayor, and she saw no reason now to allow their fire department to be adopted by Shaker Heights. William Stockard appreciated the work of the fire department and emergency medical services (EMS) and doesn’t want anything to jeopardize that. John McMahon thanked the city’s EMS, which probably saved his life recently. He said he’s watched the region grow from some thirty individual communities to almost sixty communities, and is sure there is much duplication of administration and services across those many separate communities.
Water bills: William Stockard also raised the issue of service charges on water bills for the portion of University Heights that receives its water through Cleveland Heights instead of Cleveland. The service charge had been raised 150 percent to $10 per month. Mayor Infield noted that the Cleveland water department is also raising rates to provide for repairs. University Heights is investigating the charges made by Cleveland Heights, to see if they can reclaim that portion of the city from Cleveland Heights water services.
Northwood School: A resident, Mrs. Jaffe, asked why the city is tearing down the old Northwood [Fuchs Mizrachi] School when there is no indoor public space for community recreation and events. Mayor Infield urged her to join the committee of residents who are still discussing possible uses for the site. Quotes have been sought for the cost of demolishing the school, but nothing has been decided yet. The city does not have the funds required for staffing and maintenance of a facility at this point, but funds could be raised through a bond issue if that is what the community decides to do with the site.
Traffic signal repair
Council authorized the additional cost for repairs to the traffic signal at Cedar and Warrensville Center roads. The signal was damaged in an accident where an RTA bus hit several cars and a utility pole. The city is paying for the cost of the repairs and will be reimbursed by RTA. This is the third and final expenditure, paying $18,432 to install the new traffic control box. The two previous expenditures were for temporary repairs and the purchase of the new control box. There is only one vendor authorized to do this work so multiple bids were not obtained.
Uniformity of tax collections
Council approved opposing State House Bill 5 (HB 5) that would provide uniformity to the process of tax collections by local communities. The Ohio House of Representatives has made some revisions to last year’s HB 601, but Mayor Infield and Council Member Steven Sims still have strong concerns about the negative effect of this legislation on local community tax revenues.
Council authorized a standard transfer of funds from the General Fund to the Capital Improvement Fund and heard a first reading of a proposed standard fund transfer from the General Fund to the Street Lighting Fund, Sewer Fund, Debt Service Fund, and the Police and Fire Pension Funds. Finance Director Larry Heiser noted, when explaining the transfer of funds, that the Debt Service Fund was all for debts incurred before 2006; no new debts have been incurred since.
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 email@example.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
Observer Corps editor for the Heights Chapter of the League of Women Voters, Cuyahoga Area