University Heights City Council meeting highlights 11-6-2017
NOVEMBER 6, 2017
- Election mailer
- Prisoner housing
- County project grant
- Protective clothing for firefighters
- Ambulance purchase
- Temporary worker costs
- South Taylor commercial property
- Pocket park on Silsby Road
Present were Mayor Susan Infeld, Vice Mayor Susan Pardee, and council members Pamela Cameron, Philip Ertel, John Rach, Steven Sims, Michele Weiss and Mark Wiseman. Also present were Law Director Luke McConville, Finance Director William Sheehan, and Clerk of Council Kelly Thomas. The meeting was held from 7 to 8:45 p.m.
Mayor Infeld shared a prepared statement denouncing the pre-election mailer sent by Local 860, the service workers union, which accused the mayor of putting the community at risk by hiring temporary workers for leaf pickup. She said these same issues were raised during union negotiations and suggested that the union was airing its grievances publicly, which it legally cannot do. The mayor also stated that she believes the union wants to be handed a blank check. Councilmen Wiseman and Rach denounced her statement, and Wiseman moved to add an item to the agenda to discuss the hiring, and background checks, of these workers. The mayor said the issue could only be discussed in an executive session, so council moved into executive session for this discussion and completed the public meeting afterward.
Council approved an $81,600 prisoner housing services contract with the city of Solon. Councilman Wiseman, who voted against the approval, said that council had only heard about the contract two weeks ago, and questions about protocol had yet to be answered. The mayor said the only other option was to pay police officers overtime or send prisoners to the county jail, which would be expensive. Both she and Police Chief Steve Hammett emphasized that University Heights doesn’t have the manpower, or human resources, to house prisoners.
Cuyahoga County project grant
A resolution supporting application for a $50,000 grant from the Cuyahoga County Community Development Supplemental Grant Program was presented on emergency. Community Development Coordinator Patrick Grogan-Myers said the grant would be for the 2017–18 fiscal year and must be submitted by Dec. 31. More details about the grant will be presented on second reading. On Nov. 6, the city held a public meeting requesting feedback on how the grant should be used. Suggestions ranged from improving pedestrian crosswalks to redoing the storefronts facing South Taylor Road.
Protective clothing for firefighters
Council presented a resolution, on first reading, authorizing an application for a Bureau of Workers’ Compensation Safety Intervention Grant to buy gloves and helmets for the fire department. The grant limit is $15,000 and the city would be required to pay a 20 percent match. Fire Chief Douglas Zook, who plans to purchase 50 helmets and 50 pairs of gloves, said costs would total just under $7,800. Councilwoman Michele Weiss asked if there was other equipment the department needed, to bring the total up to $15,000. Zook said this was a fiscally wise idea.
Council authorized a contract with Burgess Ambulance Sales to purchase a Ford E450 Road Rescue Ultramedic ambulance. The $159,000 ambulance will replace a 2006 ambulance, which has more than 73,000 miles on it.
Temporary worker costs
Noting that he was prohibited from publicly discussing the temporary workers hired for leaf pickup, Councilman Wiseman asked Finance Director Sheehan how much the city pays for temporary workers. In 2015, the city paid Minutemen Staffing $17,834 for temporary workers; in 2016, $10,517; for 2017, the city budgeted $32,000.
South Taylor commercial property
Councilwoman Cameron asked Law Director McConville whether the site of the former Kentucky Fried Chicken property, located at 2115 South Taylor, is being developed. He noted that the owner admitted that he didn’t have the property tested for environmental issues when he bought it. McConville said that the owner needs to work with Exxon to clean up the site, which has environmental issues, before it can be developed. The city has informed the owner that it will help him work with Exxon.
Pocket park on Silsby Road
The city was recently awarded a $105,000 grant from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources to develop a pocket park at 3578 Silsby Road. Mr. Grogan-Myers reported that the project, which will include community input, will begin soon.
LWV Observer: Siobhan Leftwich.
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