LEAGUE OF WOMEN VOTERS / University Heights City Council meeting highlights [online 3-21-2016]

MARCH 21, 2016

  • March 7 minutes
  • Master planning survey
  • Free tax preparation
  • Water main break
  • Tree trimming
  • Payroll service
  • Mayor’s spending limit
  • Disposition of city property
  • Purvis Park
  • Library expansion
  • Purchase of Ford Escapes
  • Pavement marking
  • Utility refuse vehicle
  • Coyote sightings
  • Senior recreation program
  • Cedarbrook Road
  • Summer camps

Councilman Steven Sims was absent.

March 7 minutes

Council voted unanimously to table the March 7 minutes. Councilman Steven Sims had submitted a request via e-mail, and Councilman Mark Wiseman requested at the meeting to table the minutes in order to include the full discussion regarding the ordinance to set compensation rates. Vice Mayor Susan Pardee offered to listen to the recording of the meeting and review the minutes for accuracy in deference to her colleagues’ concerns. Mayor Susan Infeld [expressed concern] that this process would skew the minutes, which are a summary. She said that if council wants a verbatim reporting of the meeting, they should hire a court reporter.

Master planning survey

The survey for the master planning process, which was put together by planners at the Cuyahoga County Planning Commission, has been mailed out. Completed surveys can be mailed, or dropped off at University Heights City Hall or at the University Heights Library. The Cuyahoga County Planning Commission stamped 25 percent of the return envelopes to ensure a sufficient return. Although council had authorized return postage for all envelopes, Cuyahoga County Planning Commission chose to follow their usual process, which is to stamp one-fourth of the envelopes.

Free tax preparation

Mayor Infeld reported that free tax preparation assistance is available through Cuyahoga County Job and Family Services.

Water main break

The mayor asked for patience from residents regarding a water main break on Churchill Boulevard. The road is slated to have the waterlines replaced this summer.

Tree trimming

Tree trimming has begun; occasionally, a temporary street closing will be necessary for the safety of all concerned.

Payroll service

Council approved hiring Paychex for payroll services. They will begin processing payroll in April. The city terminated an agreement with ADP, which attempted to process payroll in December but had multiple problems. Paychex specializes in small businesses and communities. They will process payroll, human resources, time and attendance, and tax and insurance reporting. They were the first payroll company to start providing the Affordable Care Act reporting process. Paychex has lowered their bid price, although it is still higher than ADP’s bid rate.

Mayor’s spending limit

An ordinance to increase the mayor’s spending limit from $5,000 to $7,500 was proposed by Councilman Phillip Ertel, but not seconded so no vote was taken. The mayor’s spending limit of $5,000 was passed in 1988. Expenditures above that amount require council’s approval. Several council members expressed a desire to be able to monitor the details on city expenditures. Councilman John Rach favored raising the limit in principle, but did not agree on the amount. Ertel felt that the $5,000 limit is archaic, and that the mayor needs to be able to govern and council needs to focus on legislation. The mayor asked council members to bring in copies of expenditure reporting from other boards and organizations so that she can have a clearer understanding of what is being sought. She also offered to resume her effort from several years ago to present all invoices to council for approval, which however, would require longer and more frequent meetings.

Disposition of city property

Council approved increasing the limits from $2,500 for sale or disposition, and $5,000 for disposal, to $7,500 before council approval is required. The mayor is currently required to determine the value of any equipment that is to be removed and, if the value exceeds $2,500, she must get council approval.

Purvis Park

The costs of swimming and tennis lessons have changed from last year. The cost for swim team will increase from $35 to $40. Food concession items will range in cost from 25 cents to $4.

Library expansion

Council approved the March 10 Planning Commission recommendation for the University Heights Library for nine variances in the upcoming expansion. The library needs improvements due to the lagging infrastructure, ADA requirements, and efforts to maintain green space in respect for the neighboring residential community. The next step will be to find a temporary space. Work should begin by August and should be completed by Sept. 2017. Council also approved the commission’s recommendation to consolidate into a single parcel the three lots behind the library with the lot the library currently occupies. The homes on the three lots will be razed and the lots used to expand the library building and parking. Green space will be maintained around these three lots to help shield the neighboring residences. Councilman Rach and Vice Mayor Pardee recused themselves from these votes due to their affiliations with the architectural firm and the library.

Purchase of Ford Escapes

Council approved the purchase of two 2016 Ford Escapes for use by the administration and building departments. Larry Heiser, finance director, contacted five dealerships but received a bid from just one – Nick Mayer Ford. However, their bid price of $40,765.84 for both was less than the state purchase program and close to prior years.

Pavement marking

Council authorized a requirements contract with the city of Shaker Heights and American Roadway Logistics as the selected contractor for the 2016 pavement marking program at a cost of $41,517.13 per year for up to three years. This is a different vendor than was used last year, as last year’s vendor was found to do unsatisfactory work.

Utility refuse vehicle

Council approved the purchase of one four-wheel utility refuse collection vehicle at a cost of $15,385 from ABC Equipment Rental & Sales. Only one other bid for the vehicle was received. ABC’s bid price was $140 less than last year, and $615 less than the budgeted amount of $16,000. The service department will again fabricate the specialized parts needed to adapt it to the city’s requirements, which will take approximately one month of work.

Coyote sightings

Police Chief Steven Hammett reported several coyote sightings. The Cuyahoga County Department of Wildlife says that coyotes are present in all 88 counties in Ohio, and are known to be living behind Legacy Village Shopping Center. The UH sightings were probably the same one or two coyotes. They [feed] on small animals. The police chief noted that they are, indeed, “wily.”

Senior recreation program

Patrick Grogan, community development coordinator, reported a positive response to the senior recreation program at the Cleveland Heights Recreation Center.

Cedarbrook Road

The city has received a grant from the Community Development Block Grant funds to repave Cedarbrook Road, which will enable the city to pay for paving another street from the current list [of those set for repaving] this summer.

Summer camps

The building committee will be meeting to begin discussing the issue of summer camps that are held in people’s homes this summer.

LWV Observer: Wendy Duering.

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 mbarnes9515@gmail.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 of Greater Cleveland. 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 of Greater Cleveland

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