University Heights City Council meeting highlights 4-16-2018

APRIL 16, 2018

  • Public Comments
  • Interim Finance Director
  • Rental properties regulation
  • New emergency rescue equipment
  • Support of State Issue 1
  • 2018 road improvement program
  • Water main replacements
  • New internet service plan
  • “On emergency” rationale for zoning ordinance
  • Tree pruning seminar
  • Firehouse improvements
  • House demolitions
  • Rental permits
  • Tax abatement
  • Ice cream tricycle
  • City hall elevators and chair lifts
  • Executive session

Present were Mayor Michael D. Brennan, Vice Mayor Susan Pardee, Phil Ertel, John Rach, Steven Sims, Michele Weiss and Mark Wiseman. Pamela Cameron arrived after roll call. Also present were Law Director Luke McConville, Interim Finance Director Michael Frederick and Clerk of Council Kelly Thomas. The meeting was held from 7 to 8:50 p.m., at which time council moved to executive session.

Public comments

Chicken legislation challenge: June Stanitz of Washington Boulevard asked during public comments what in the recent chicken legislation constituted an emergency. She was surprised that council didn’t refer to the terminology used in the charter regarding emergencies and asked why council would choose to pass this on emergency when it had nothing to do with preserving “public peace, health or safety.” She said that since there was not an emergency, the legislation should be rescinded.

Interim finance director

Mayor Brennan explained that the city’s finances are maintained on a cash accounting basis during the year, and are then converted to GAAP format for the annual outside audit. Due to accounting problems, the data was not ready to be converted. The faulty process had begun prior to William Sheehan’s arrival as finance director, but he continued it. He has now stepped down and Michael Frederick, the only other person in the city’s finance department, has been promoted to interim finance director and is working quickly to get the city’s finances into proper order for both the audit and the accounting of all subsequent revenues and expenditures.

Rental properties regulation

Council approved a new regulation on one- and two-family rental properties, requiring owners to be current on property taxes in order to obtain or keep rental permits. The property owners may not profit from their properties while not paying their taxes. This will not impact the tenants. (Ordinance 2018-20)

New emergency rescue equipment

Once again, University Hospitals has donated a new Lifepak defibrillator and a Lucas device for providing CPR. The EMS monitors and defibrillators were from early 2000s and needed to be replaced. Chief Perko noted that someone has a heart attack every forty seconds in the US, and care requires a partnership between hospitals, emergency transport, and community members. This new equipment will help to make the entire Heights area “heart safe.”

Support of State Issue 1

Mayor Brennan read a resolution in support of State Issue 1 which will change the way in which representative districts are drawn every ten years. It will be on the primary ballot on May 8. Vice Mayor Pardee moved to approve the resolution, and spoke of the hard work of the League of Women Voters among others in support of this issue. The resolution was supported unanimously.

2018 road improvement program bids

Council authorized the mayor to seek bids to repave Barrington, Bradford, Canterbury, Hadley, Laurelhurst, Farland, and Groveland roads from Green to Milton roads. Curbs will be replaced if necessary. The city will also finish repaving the city hall campus. Joseph Ciuni, the city engineer, noted that contractors return one year later to seal any cracks that have occurred in new pavement, but the city will look into a more extensive crack-sealing program in order to better maintain the streets and delay the need for more extensive repaving.

Water main replacements

Once again, the Suburban Water Main Program will provide funding for needed replacement of water main lines. This year the city will replace water mains on Groveland and Washington roads.

New internet service plan

The police and dispatch units are unable to use video with the current internet service, which is essentially a residential type of connection. The initial motion was to enter into a plan with Spectrum, which is the state provider, but Wow made a new offer, and the resolution was altered to authorize the administration to enter into a plan for 500 mbps fiber internet access for five years at a cost not to exceed $1300 per month with a non-recurring installation fee of no more than $250. The administration will continue to seek the lowest best option.

“On emergency” rationale for zoning ordinance

Law Director McConville noted that emergency clauses in state law have been interpreted to give wide latitude to cities, including over matters of timing. The city did not want a gap between passage of the zoning ordinance change and the use law and so passed the ordinance “on emergency” meaning that it would take effect immediately instead of after thirty days.

Tree pruning seminar

Service Director Pokorny reported that the tree pruning seminar video will be posted online shortly.

Firehouse improvements

Mayor Brennan reported on behalf of Building Commissioner James McReynolds that they will be making additional improvements to the firehouse, including to the plumbing, showers, and kitchen sink.

House demolitions

He also announced that Development Director Grogan-Myers has filed applications for house demolitions with the county.

Rental permits

Councilman Wiseman reported on behalf of the building committee that there are 850 rental permits in the city but more actual rental units. There are not enough staff to inspect all units annually so they hope to hire another inspector due to the increasing number of rentals in the city. The committee also decided to maintain the current limit of three unrelated people in one house, even if there are four bedrooms. He also reported that, as of the meeting, there was one request for a chicken permit.

Tax abatement

Governmental Affairs Chair Michele Weiss reported that the city is considering a tax abatement for new construction on existing homes. The committee feels it would be good for the city, but a final recommendation should be ready within the next six months.

Ice cream tricycle

The suggestion of a tricycle style of ice cream vehicle on city streets has received overwhelming support from council members.

City hall elevators and chair lifts

Councilman Sims, chair of the service and utilities committee, reported that they are studying options for elevators and chair lifts in city hall to make as many accommodations as possible.

Executive session

Council moved to executive session for discussion of personnel and real estate matters.

LWV Observer: Wendy S 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

Chair, Heights Chapter of the League of Women Voters of Greater Cleveland

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Volume 11, Issue 6, Posted 2:21 PM, 05.15.2018