Cleveland Heights City Council regular meeting highlights 4-6-2020

APRIL 6, 2020


  • Council actions
  • City manager’s report
  • Council member comments


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 and 13 minutes. 

Council actions

Council passed on emergency:


  • Resolution 32-2020, authorizing the city manager to amend various economic development loan and grant agreements in response to the COVID-19 emergency.
  • Ordinance 35-2020, approving current replacement pages to the codified ordinances. This must be done annually to update the code to include locally passed and state changes.


The following received first reading only:


  • Ordinance 33-2020, authorizing the city manager to take all actions necessary to participate in the services of the Cuyahoga County Aggregated Solar Project. There will be a presentation by the vendor for this equipment at the April 20 meeting.
  • Resolution 34-2020, authorizing an agreement with Panzica Construction for consultant services as “owner’s representative” (i.e. the city’s representative) for the Top of the Hill Redevelopment Project.


City manager’s report

The following bids, which were the lowest and best, were made a matter of record:


  • Selwyn Road resurfacing and waterline replacement: Fabrizi Trucking and Paving, Middleburgh Heights – $1,340,897.58
  • Fire vehicle source capture exhaust systems: Clean Air Concepts, Cincinnati – $118,185.00
  • 2020 surface treating program: Specialized Construction, Inc., Cuyahoga Heights – $264,266.65


City Manager Briley presented highlights from her report. 

Unfortunately, the CARES Act from Congress does not seem to benefit cities under 500,000 population, but there will be some increases in Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Funds and some reimbursement from Federal Emergency Management (FEMA) funds. Ongoing analysis seems to indicate that revenue from various taxes will begin to decline as early as the third quarter of 2020.

Stay-at-home orders are in effect through April 30. City facilities remain closed. Communication to citizens is being published on the website Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Physical distance and caution are urged on playgrounds. Briley spoke about economic development, and police and fire departments. The EPA Consent Decree (sewers) continues but may be discussed in the future if the city needs financial relief. Projects already funded may have to be reevaluated and adjusted due to tax revenue decline.

Council member comments—from throughout the meeting

Vice Mayor Seren noted that twenty community members joined the YouTube live stream during the meeting. He wondered if committee meetings could be streamed this way if it is not a strain on staff; Mayor Stein agreed, but Ms. Briley pointed out that it is an involved process, with many details behind the scenes and a need for three technicians.

He suggested that council look into a possible need for voluntary or mandatory staff furloughs in the future.

Ms. Dunbar noted and commended the police chief’s report on 2019 operations. She announced that Tom Gibson is working with the Noble neighborhood to establish a fruit orchard, a source of both food and pride. The Doanbrook Watershed Partnership urges residents to pick up trash on their walks and to report it to them. The Shaker Nature Center plant sale is available online and is an especially good source for native plants. Ms. Dunbar emphasized the importance of wearing masks in public.

Ms. Hartasked the city manager about the plan to continue to pre-pay medical insurance for employees. Ms. Briley clarified that there is pre-funding by putting the funds in the account the previous year (e.g. 2019) rather than the current year (2020), but NOT early payment. This has been the practice for several years and allows the city to use its surplus.

Ms. Russell was concerned about the security of playgrounds. She was particularly interested in the problems of vulnerable citizens and communication with the entire community. She thanked staff for their work and reiterated gratitude to residents for staying at home.

Mr. Ungar asked for clarification about the “rapid response team.” Ms. Briley explained it is composed of all department directors and other pertinent staff who meet several times a week to react to information from the state and analyze staffing and functions. It is a communication vehicle focusing on operations. 

He expressed concern about seniors and other vulnerable citizens, and the need to stay in contact with them. A long discussion touched on the involvement of FutureHeights, faith communities, and the Office on Aging.

Mr. Ungar discussed the outreach to the special improvement districts (SIDS) by city staff. He desires updates in real time to council members about Top of the Hill progress. He proposed a council report to the community be placed on the city website to show “in one voice” engagement and unanimity, and to show residents how to contact the appropriate members with their concerns. Members Dunbar, Hart, and Russell agreed, and Ms. Russell stated she would like to help construct this letter.

Next council meeting is April 20, 2020.

LWV Observer: Blanche Valancy.


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