University Heights City Council meeting highlights 10-7-2015

OCTOBER 7, 2015

  • JCU food drive
  • NORMA insurance partnership
  • Income tax code changes
  • Payroll process outsourced
  • Tennis court rehab
  • Tree services
  • Sidewalk plow
  • Park construction
  • Leaf collection, paper shredding
  • Open council seat

Councilman Phil Ertel was absent.

JCU food drive

Mayor Susan Infeld reported that John Carroll University (JCU) will be conducting its annual Thanksgiving food drive. She encouraged residents to watch for the distribution of grocery bags and support the drive.

NORMA insurance partnership

Council authorized payment of $119,460 to the Northern Ohio Risk Management Association Self-Insurance Pool Inc. (NORMA), an insurance partnership of 11 neighboring cities. The city has participated for nine years and the cost has remained almost unchanged. The finance directors meet quarterly with legal counsel to ensure the fund is being managed effectively and legally.

Income tax code changes

Council heard a first reading of an ordinance to change the city code regarding the municipal income tax to conform to model language provided by RITA, the Regional Income Tax Agency. Only slight modifications are needed to be in compliance, but the language must be approved by the end of the year. The primary issue being addressed is in response to Ohio House Bill 5 [enacted December 2014], which requires further legislative action if residents under the age of 18 are being taxed, which they are not in University Heights.

Payroll process outsourced

Council approved an agreement with ADP for payroll processing. The city has processed its own payroll until now, but with the increased reporting required by the Affordable Care Act (ACA), Finance Director Larry Heiser recommends hiring a payroll company. ADP might also take over benefits administration, as benefits details must be provided to accurately process ACA reporting. Heiser is still talking to various payroll companies and working to negotiate lower rates, but needed to lock in terms with ADP now as [the company] needs three to four weeks to set up records for the city. The representative from ADP stressed that there would be no contract and the city could back out of the agreement at any time. The cost will be offset somewhat by the elimination of a position and in-house software expenses.

Tennis court rehab

Council approved the bid from Infinity Paving Company to rehabilitate four tennis courts at Purvis Park in the amount of $276,961.72. The four tennis courts will be completely replaced and drainage added. The nets and windscreens will be kept for possible future use on the remaining three courts. The work must be completed by June 2016 at the latest, and access to the other three courts must be maintained at all times. A grant from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources will pay approximately half of the cost.

Tree services

Council approved the bid from VanCuren Services for the 2015 tree pruning and removal program in an amount not to exceed $71,638, to be completed by March 2016. The pruning and removal this year will focus on the northwest section of the city bordered by Silsby, Cedar, Warrensville Center and Taylor roads. The work will involve approximately 700 trees, based on a coding system determined by the city’s arborist. Only two firms bid for the work, but the second bid was almost double VanCuren’s rate, and other cities recommend VanCuren. This is still a significant cost increase from 2014 but clearly the vendor in 2014 underbid and had difficulty completing the work.

Council also accepted the bid from Nate Johnson’s Landscaping Inc. of Mentor for the 2015 fall tree-planting program in an amount not to exceed $33,213. This is to replace removed trees and for requested new trees. Nate Johnson has done the work for the past two years and has done an adequate job. The range in bid prices was very narrow.

Sidewalk plow

Council approved the purchase, from Gibson Machinery LLC, of a reinforced rubber track four-cylinder diesel sidewalk plow in the amount of $109,215 to replace the 1986 Bombardier plow that broke at the end of last winter. This is the same manufacturer, but the name has changed. Service Director Jeff Pokorny was unable to find more affordable alternatives. This machine fits exactly on a sidewalk and is similar to the machine that broke but is greatly improved. The broken plow will be kept for replacement parts.

Park construction

Construction of the new park is making good progress. Work is currently underway on the underground utilities, and work has been completed on the containment basin and sewer lines. Fenwick Road will be closed for approximately six weeks for major construction of the intersection. Residents will be able to reach all driveways but will only be able to enter the street from one direction.

Leaf collection, paper shredding

Leaf collection will begin shortly, and paper shredding is being done the final weekend of October.

Open council seat

Vice Mayor Susan Pardee announced that the city will be accepting resumes and letters of interest for the seventh council seat between Nov. 5 and 19. Letters should be sent to city hall.

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 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 of Greater Cleveland. This disclaimer must accompany any redistribution of these reports.

Read More on University Heights
Volume 8, Issue 11, Posted 6:43 PM, 10.20.2015