LEAGUE OF WOMEN VOTERS / University Heights City Council meeting highlights for Sept. 19, 2016 [online]
SEPTEMBER 19, 2016
- Joint dispatch center
- Park construction
- Municipal land bank
- Fund transfers
- Employee compensations
- Budget commission
- Street paving
Joint dispatch center
Mayor Susan Infeld reported that the board of the new joint dispatch center is planning to follow the model currently used in South Euclid, with the same dispatchers handling calls for both police and fire. Steve Hammett, police chief, is continuing to represent University Heights on the board going forward. The board needs to hire someone to run the center. The process of working toward the formation of a joint dispatch center has been ongoing for four years.
The mayor said that the new park is undergoing finishing touches including fixing a few remaining items and working further on the landscaping, which was affected by this summer’s dry weather.
Municipal land bank
Council approved adoption of Chapter 5722 of the Ohio Revised Code regarding reutilization of “nonproductive” land in the city. Council members Mark Wiseman and Pamela Cameron voted no. This authorizes the city to develop a municipal land bank, which can take over, hold and sell foreclosed property instead of leaving it with the county land bank. It enables the city to keep better control of development, the properties can be obtained without a public bidding process, and the city is protected from liability. Otherwise, the city must depend on the county to manage the options for each property. While the county usually wants to refurbish foreclosed homes in good condition, less desirable properties are often allowed to languish. Councilman Wiseman requested a written protocol stating the steps to be followed in determining which homes to bring into the city’s land bank and how to decide the use of those properties. Mayor Infeld felt that protocols are already contained within the city’s existing ordinances. Luke McConville, law director, noted that each situation is unique and a fixed process can’t be applied to all situations. Councilwoman Cameron was concerned that the city’s administration seemed to be moving into the real estate business and [cited] possible conflicts of interest. Because the cost of each property will almost certainly exceed the mayor’s spending limit and thus require a council vote, Councilman John Rach felt the ordinance empowered council.
In a standard accounting process, council authorized the transfer of $350,000 out of the General Fund and to the following: $50,000 to the street fund; $10,000 to street lighting; $50,000 to capital projects; $120,000 to police pension; and $120,000 to the fire pension fund.
Council approved, on emergency, an ordinance to update the annual compensation rates of specified employees. This increases the pay ranges for specified director positions, and is proposed because of the recent departure of Eric Tuck-Macalla, former building commissioner, to another city that could offer him a higher rate of pay. He was already near the top of the city’s pay band and convening council in time to change the pay band would not have been possible. Council members Wiseman and Cameron voted no, preferring an emergency council meeting if necessary. Mayor Infeld noted that there is frequent movement between cities now, almost always for higher rates of pay. Councilwoman Michele Weiss expressed concern that pay bands were discussed just six months ago, and asked the mayor for the source of the proposed rates. Mayor Infeld said that she has researched neighboring cities, and noted that mayors do talk to each other. She assured Councilman Steven Sims that she does not plan to raise everyone’s pay with the new rates, but wants the flexibility, if needed, to negotiate. She also explained that she needed the legislation now because she is currently interviewing candidates for the housing position, and needs to know what she can offer.
Council approved the tax amounts and rates determined by the budget commission, and thus the inside and outside tax millage rates for the various bond and pension funds, which are then communicated to Cuyahoga County. There is no change from last year.
Council authorized the mayor to prepare and submit an application to the Ohio Public Works Commission State Capital Improvement Program for funds to repave Silsby Road from South Taylor Road to Warrensville Center Road, including replacing curbs. The estimated cost is $835,000. The city is applying for $400,000 with an additional $200,000 hoped for from the county, $225,000 from Cleveland Heights, and $10,000 from University Heights. The funds, if granted, will be received in July 2017.
Council also authorized a cooperative agreement with the city of Cleveland Heights for a joint application to the Ohio Public Works Commission for repaving Silsby Road. Cleveland Heights would take the lead and University Heights will be the second on the grant. Cleveland Heights is also meeting to vote on this resolution.
LWV Observer: Wendy Deuring.
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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