Cleveland Heights City Council meeting highlights 1-18-22
JANUARY 18, 2022 – Regular meeting
- Public comments
- Mayor’s report
- Council action
- Council member comments
- Committee of the Whole
Present were Mayor Kahlil Seren, Council President Melody Joy Hart, Council Vice President Craig Cobb, and Council Members Tony Cuda, Josie Moore, Davida Russell, and Anthony Mattox, Jr. Also present were Susanna Niermann O’Neil, city manager; Amy Himmelein, clerk of council and finance director; and William Hanna, law director.
Four residents spoke about the petition to create a park at Lee/Tullamore/Meadowbrook. One described the background of the petition effort and urged council to put the initiative on the May 3 ballot, and to allow the leaders of the petition drive to give a presentation at the January 24 public hearing. Two opposed the park, with one urging that those opposing the initiative also be permitted to give a presentation at the January 24 hearing. The other opponent distinguished support for a ballot initiative from support for the park itself. One of the petition leaders explained that their group will try to raise funds to build the park and that the city would be responsible for maintaining it.
A resident asked for the city’s help in ensuring that the freight elevator at Severance Tower, a CMHA residence, be kept in working order. He described recurring outages and explained that both elevators are needed as so many residents use wheelchairs.
A resident asked about the source of funds for disability services, sustainability efforts, and other activities, and offered reflections on Martin Luther King Day.
Diane Hallum of Oxford Road began by saying she is excited by the change on council, hopeful but still pessimistic. She mentioned an Ohio Supreme Court case that she said would prevent discussion of the appointment to the vacant council seat behind closed doors. She stated that a complaint was filed against her presence on the Citizens Advisory Committee, which advises the granting of Community Development Block Grant funds (CDBG), by 14 people claiming to be Noble Neighbors. She said all do not live near Noble Road, and that the complaint was filled with slander and inaccuracies. This occurred after she had filed a grievance against the CDBG administrator. Ms. Hallum further stated that it is seriously wrong that she cannot find out who is on the Noble Corridor Steering Committee of FutureHeights, and that she has been denied membership on that committee.
Mayor Seren, reflecting on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, rejected the corruption of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s words and philosophy, described his work, and encouraged everyone to have a clear reflection on his message. He complimented the city’s public works and safety forces for their effective snow removal, refuse pick-up, and fire, police, and emergency responses (40 disabled vehicles and nearly 40 EMS responses). He urged all who are medically able to get COVID vaccines and boosters and to wear masks around other people. He reminded residents that free COVID tests can be ordered at covidtest.gov.
Council approved as emergency measures on first reading:
- Two resolutions proclaiming February 2022 as American Heart Month and as National African American History Month
- A resolution updating the signatories for the account with Nirvana Public Funding LLC, substituting the mayor for the city manager
- A resolution updating the list of city employees authorized to be signatories on certain city accounts with US Bank, Fifth Third Bank, and STAR Ohio
- An ordinance amending the 2022 budget, transferring $290,000 from the General Fund to the Economic Fund, and authorizing the mayor to transfer budgeted amounts within each fund, so long as the total appropriated amount for each fund is not exceeded
Council offered on first reading an ordinance authorizing the mayor to exercise the existing option to purchase the property at 13230-13232 Cedar Road with the purchase agreement subject to council approval.
Council authorized the mayor to file amended Articles of Incorporation of the City Community Improvement Corporation, to reflect the change in city government structure. Council suspended its rules to pass the measure on first reading but not as an emergency.
Council member comments
Mr. Cuda, as chair of the housing and building committee, has been meeting with Future Heights, Home Repair Resource Center, Greater Cleveland Congregations, Racial Justice Task Force, and other stakeholders.
Ms. Moore, as chair of the municipal services committee, urged residents to use the Access Cleveland Heights app to request city services and see the status of those requests. Ongoing improvements to the app are making it a more useful tool. Access Cleveland Heights can be used on iOS and Android devices and via web browser on the city’s website. She also praised city staff for their snow removal efforts and commended residents for helping each other.
Mr. Mattox urged residents to honor the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr. by making service a habit, not just an annual event.
Ms. Hart, as council president, also offered thanks to city staff for their snow removal work. She announced an upcoming council retreat on Jan. 24, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and a public hearing for the Lee/Tullamore/Meadowbrook park initiative petition on Jan. 24 at 6:30 p.m. The retreat will develop council’s three-to-five-year goals and strategy, as well as council rules.
Committee of the Whole
Mr. Seren and Ms. Himmelein explained that the budget adjustments are transfers between funds. There was discussion of ways to make transfers between funds easier to understand.
Mr. Seren provided background on the Community Improvement Corporation (CIC). In general, CICs are non-profits created by governments for economic development purposes. The Cleveland Heights CIC has mostly functioned as an intermediary in property transfers from the Land Bank to developers.
Mr. Hanna described the actions, options, and timeline required of council by the city charter in response to the park initiative petition. Council members decided to hold a public hearing, even though it is not required, on January 24 at 6:30 p.m. Committee of the whole will meet after the hearing. The committee of the whole report to council will be delivered in time for the February 7 regular meeting, when council will vote on the proposed measure. Cost estimates for including the initiative on the May 3 ballot is $18,000; an election on a date not scheduled for a regular primary or general election would cost $112,000.
Ms. Hart urged all committee chairs to schedule committee meetings on a regular day and time, with the option of cancelling meetings if they are not needed. If more of council’s work is done in committee meetings, it may be possible to schedule fewer committee of the whole meetings.
Ms. Russell explained that business owners are asking how to apply for portions of the $1 million of ARPA (American Rescue Plan Act) funds set aside for business districts. There was discussion of the need for more detailed guidance on permitted uses and an application process. Ms. Russell is working on calling a meeting of Noble and Taylor residents and businesses to prioritize their request for $2.5 million of ARPA funds set aside for each of those neighborhoods. Ms. Hart will schedule a finance committee meeting after that list is completed.
LWV Observers: Jill Tatem and Blanche Valancy.
Meeting packets, legislation, and other information can be found on the city website at: https://www.clevelandheights.com/1142/2021-Agendas-and-Minutes
Videos of council meetings can be viewed on the “City of Cleveland Heights, OH” YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/ClevelandHeightsOH