University Heights City Council meeting highlights 12-15-2014
DECEMBER 15, 2014
- RFQ for park design
- East Cleveland
- Dispatch consolidation plan
- Rick Jackson honored
- Gesu cross-country champions
- Budget legislation
- Distribution of council documents
- Committee appointment authority
- Council compensation
- Patrolmen’s contract
- Community engagement committee
- Property split
- Sewer study
Councilman Phil Ertel was absent.
RFQ for park design
A Request for Qualifications (RFQ) is being issued for architects who are interested in working on the design plans for the new city park.
Mayor Susan Infeld said she had been participating in a conversation with leaders of neighboring communities and Cuyahoga County to develop a plan for assisting East Cleveland with its need for emergency services in a way that is fair and equitable.
Dispatch consolidation plan
The mayor also announced that conversations are being held with Police Chief Steven Hammett and leaders of Cleveland Heights, South Euclid and Beachwood regarding a possible multi-city police dispatch unit, being organized under a Cuyahoga County consolidation plan. Regulations under the plan require that the centralized dispatch be located on higher property for better radio transmission, and Beachwood is the highest altitude of the participating cities. These same cities currently share a police SWAT unit. The county plan requires reducing dispatch units in the county from 44 to four. The mayor and police chief prefer to choose now [what cities] to partner with instead of waiting to be assigned, but emphasized that this is still in the early stage of discussion. Funding will be cut severely if the goal is not met by 2018.
Rick Jackson honored
University Heights resident Rick Jackson of Ideastream was recognized as 2014 Citizen of the Year. In addition to his work on behalf of the community through his work at WCPN and WVIZ, he has also served on the Citizen Recreation Advisory Committee. His son was chosen Youth Citizen of the Year in 2008.
Gesu cross-country champions
The Gesu boys cross-country team was presented with certificates for once again winning the CYO city championship tournament, competing with 18 other teams. Unfortunately, only a few members of the team were present as the others were playing in the school’s band concert that same evening.
Council approved appropriations for expenditures for the period commencing Jan. 1, 2015 and ending Dec. 31, 2015. Mayor Infeld noted that this was the second time, since Larry Heiser became the finance director, that the city has passed a budget before the end of the prior year.
Distribution of council documents
Legislation amending city ordinances that stipulates the timing and distribution of council agendas and supporting documents was tabled. The proposal, which the mayor is now implementing as a pilot project, is to release meeting agendas by 5 p.m. on the Wednesday prior to each meeting.
Committee appointment authority
Legislation relative to the mayor’s authority to appoint council members to committees was presented on first reading. Currently the mayor assigns committee memberships in January but the charter says that council is to organize the committees. This ordinance proposes giving this authority to the vice mayor, with committee assignments to be made by the second meeting in January.
Council approved, on emergency, legislation increasing the compensation of council members for the terms beginning Jan. 1, 2016. Only council members who are elected in 2015 will receive this rate increase of $200 per year. Council members whose term is continuing in 2016 will remain at the current rate. The last time action was taken to increase council pay was in 2009.
Council approved, on emergency, a contract between the city and the Ohio Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association (comprising dispatchers, sergeants/lieutenants and patrol officers). The new contract includes a pay increase of 2 percent per year for all, retroactive to July 1 with the retroactive increase to be paid this month. Health insurance continues to be provided, with the employee contribution increasing to 9 percent in the first year and 10 percent in the second year. The employee contribution might increase to 11 percent in the third year, depending on costs.
Council passed a resolution supporting Fairmount Cleaners’ application to the Cuyahoga County Brownfield Redevelopment Fund Community Assessment Initiative. Fairmount Cleaners is interested in the former Cedar/Taylor Garage at the northeast corner of Cedar and Taylor roads. This attractive brick building, built in the 1930s, was a former auto repair garage and the property needs to be tested for possible chemical contamination and cleanup before it can be repurposed. Fairmount Cleaners feels the building and lot are ideal for its purposes and is eager for this opportunity.
Community engagement committee
Council heard, on first reading, a proposal for a one-year special council committee for community engagement. The purpose of the committee would be to foster and enhance community engagement to bring together residents, in particular around the transition of Wiley from a middle school to a transitional high school.
Council approved splitting the property at 2240 Jackson Blvd.
Service Director Jeffrey Pokorny announced that the study of sewers following the widespread backups in July concluded that the sewer systems were in satisfactory condition but that they were inadequate for the aberrant three-inch rainfall, which occurred that day.
LWV Observer: Wendy Deuring.
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