LEAGUE OF WOMEN VOTERS / University Heights City Council meeting highlights [online 1-19-2016]
JANUARY 19, 2016
- State of the city address
- City employee compensation
- Pedestrian safety and roadway improvements
- Bellefaire parking area
- Inspection fees
Councilman Phillip Ertel was absent.
State of the city address
Mayor Susan Infeld read her state of the city address, which will also be included in the newsletter for residents. Her goal has been to make the city of University Heights a place where people want to live and raise a family. The city has carried forward a $2.5 million surplus into 2016 and will continue to seek grant funds to augment the budget. The $1 million street repair budget for 2016 will allow the city to repave or improve more streets than ever before. She looks forward to the opening of the new community park and the repaving of several tennis courts. New swim programs have been successful, and in 2016 the city’s senior citizens will be able to use the Cleveland Heights Senior Activity Center. Private investors have made significant improvements at Fairmount Circle, Cedar Green, and Cedar Center, and bondholders have taken back ownership of University Square shopping center. She thanked the city for allowing her to continue to serve as mayor, and thanked council for its work. She looks forward to continuing to work together for the betterment of University Heights.
City employee compensation
Council heard a first reading of legislation updating the annual compensation rate of specified employees. The ordinance being updated is intended to establish a pay range for positions within the administration, primarily director-level positions, to give the mayor some flexibility if pay needs to be adjusted. The range was last adjusted two years ago. Councilwoman Michele Weiss asked if this would alter the contracts established by the finance committee for the budget. Mayor Infeld explained that this ordinance was separate from the budget, and would give [the mayor] the flexibility to possibly keep an employee who was considering leaving. This does not affect employees who are represented by a union. Councilman Steven Sims suggested that the range proposed for the clerk of council position was too low. Since this was presented on first reading, Mayor Infeld asked the council members to give the ranges further consideration and emphasized that this is an adjustment to a standing ordinance and not a new proposal.
Pedestrian safety and roadway improvements
Council approved an application to the Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency (NOACA) for funding from the Transportation for Livable Communities Program for pedestrian safety and roadway improvements on Warrensville Center Road. There is no cap on the amount of grant money that can be requested, but $500,000 is available for possible projects across five counties. University Heights will apply for the grant in an amount between $100,000 to $175,000, to install two mid-block crosswalks on Warrensville Center Road between Hillbrook and Traymore roads, and between Meadowbrook Road and Fairmount Boulevard. Two parking spaces will be removed on opposite sides of Warrensville Center Road, replaced by a grass and concrete jut-out to shorten the distance required to cross the road. (There is currently a graphic on the city’s website displaying the proposal.) These two sections were chosen based on feedback and traffic studies. Councilman Sims voted against the resolution, expressing concerns that these changes will impede the flow of traffic on Warrensville.
Bellefaire parking area
Council approved Bellefaire JCB’s application for constructing a parking area on the north end of its campus. Councilman John Rach asked if there was a plan to replace the trees that are to be removed, some of which are quite large. Building Commissioner Eric Tuck-Macalla said that because this would be a temporary parking lot, as it is part of a larger proposal, potentially including a new building, no landscaping plans and stipulations were needed. Additional plans will be brought before council and replacement of trees can be addressed then. Rach voted against the motion because of the loss of trees.
Vice Mayor Susan Pardee asked Patrick Grogan, community development coordinator, if council could be notified when certain items are posted to the city’s website (universityheights.com). Grogan explained that he is steadily updating the website to keep it current, and so it would generate a great number of notifications. He suggested using the site as a home page to stay current on all updates.
Councilman Mark Wiseman asked the building commissioner about the building inspection fees required when a building is going to be sold. He asked specifically about the owners of a small building who were asked to pay over $400 in inspection fees before they could sell it. Tuck-Macalla explained that the rental inspection is unrelated to the point-of-sale inspection, but in this case they happen to coincide. Some owners have asked to set aside the rental inspection because they will be selling the property, but the building commissioner noted that properties do not always sell immediately, and it is not fair to the renters to lose the protection provided by the rental inspection. The point-of-sale inspection is good for a full year.
LWV Observer: Wendy Deuring.
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League of Women Voters
Observer Corps editor for the Heights Chapter of the League of Women Voters of Greater Cleveland