Cleveland Heights City Council regular meeting highlights 3-16-2020
MARCH 16, 2020
- Public comment
- Council actions
- Consent agenda
- Council member/mayor comments and announcements
- New clerk of council/finance manager
- Coronavirus emergency
Present were Mayor Jason Stein, Vice Mayor Kahlil Seren, Mary Dunbar, Melody Joy Hart, Davida Russell and Michael Ungar. Also present were City Manager Tanisha Briley, Clerk of Council Susanna O’Neil, and Law Director William Hanna. The meeting was a virtual meeting and viewed online. It lasted one hour.
No citizens were present due to the pandemic emergency. The city manager read an email, which she said typified almost a dozen received on the topic of preserving the playground at the former Milliken School for the use and benefit of the diverse and multi-ethnic surrounding neighborhood. As developers for the site will soon be sought, the writer eloquently requested a legal commitment by the city to preserve the playground.
Council actions – Coronavirus emergency, benefits amendment
Council approved, on emergency, Resolution 22-2020, proclaiming the existence of a local emergency in response to the novel coronavirus.
Ordinance 23-2020, presented on first reading, will be considered in a future Administrative Services committee meeting. This is an amendment to the wage and salary ordinance permitting accrual of part-time vacation for about 24 part-time employees. They were not previously entitled to vacation because they were considered seasonal. No committee meetings are taking place during the pandemic emergency.
Consent agenda – proclamations, et al.
After a long discussion of the mechanics, council approved a lengthy consent agenda that included:
- Five resolutions (27-31) proclaiming April as Fair Housing month, April as Autism Awareness Month and April 2 as World Autism Awareness Day, April 13-18 as National Community Development Week, April 19-25 as National Library Week, and April as National Poetry Month.
- Resolution 20 - amendments to eliminate possible ambiguity regarding issuance of on-street parking permits on portions of Overlook Road.
- Resolution 21- renewal of an agreement with Cuyahoga County Board of Health for a grant for residential lead remediation.
- Ordinance 24 - adopting a section of the city code to provide for a Consent Agenda.
- Resolution 25 - designating certain law department attorneys to attend three hours of training concerning public records and open meetings laws (i.e. “Sunshine Laws”).
- Resolution 26 - authorizing participation in the Ohio Department of Transportation Cooperative Purchasing Program for road salt for winter 2020-21.
Council member/mayor comments and announcements
Mr. Ungar thanked and commended City Manager Briley for placing highlights of the city manager’s report on the website with easy access. He commented on the involvement of the chiefs of police and fire and council members in the COVID-19 emergency, and noted there have been discussions of succession planning if needed.
Mr. Seren asked about recreation center memberships; Ms. Briley assured him all will be extended for the amount of time the center remains closed.
Ms. Hart encouraged residents to patronize eating establishments that are providing take-out and to tip generously.
Mayor Stein praised the city’s social media presence for keeping residents informed. He commented that we are making history, and are in uncharted territory during this emergency. He urged residents to extend kindness to each other and wished all good health and a return to normal.
New clerk of council/finance manager
At the request of City Manager Briley, council approved the appointment of Amy Himmelein as clerk of council and finance manager, effective April 13.
The city manager made lengthy comments about the coronavirus emergency local response, which she termed “aggressive and proactive, agile and responsive.” The city is in touch with state and federal authorities. The staff remains in city hall with appropriate social distancing, but the building is closed to the public. Emergency police and fire response are intact and trash collection continues. All employees are being paid. Staff is receiving protocols and guidance. Appropriate sick, and family and medical leave are available to city employees. Courts are limiting in-person contacts and suspending evictions temporarily. Utility shut-offs are also suspended. Parking in all city lots is free. Community center staff are taking this time to do cleaning and organizing of the building while personal distancing. Ms. Briley commented on the local business community and small business loans, and urged carryout of meals.
LWV Observer: Blanche Valancy.