Cleveland Heights City Council meeting highlights 6-21-22
JUNE 21, 2022
- Public comments - agenda items
- Public comments - general
- Mayor’s report
- Council actions on second reading
- Passed on first reading
- First readings, no vote
- Community block grants
- Committee reports
- 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, Gail Larson, Anthony Mattox Jr., Josie Moore, and Davida Russell. Also present was William Hanna, law director. The meeting ran a little over an hour and 20 minutes.
Public comments - agenda items
A resident supported the legislation establishing a ban on conversion therapy, pointing out that people in the LGBTQ community do not have an illness or disability, and noting the powerful message of support this action sends to young residents.
Public comments - general
A representative of Friends of Horseshoe Lake claimed that the majority of residents seem to support the alternate plan to preserve the lake, saying the plan is safe, controls storm water, and costs less than the NEORSD plan.
Concerns were raised about the presence of police when not needed at the recent Pride and Juneteenth celebrations; the speaker said this conflicted with the city’s “All Are Welcome” principle.
A resident expressed concern that council and the mayor were not communicating well under the new legislative council and strong mayor governing structure, and that citizens are confused about who is doing what. Another resident was disappointed that recent celebrations were not well publicized, and that residents do not know whom to contact with concerns under the new form of government.
A resident disagreed with separating the public comment section into agenda and non-agenda sections.
One resident asked when ARPA funds would be distributed to struggling businesses, and another person asked about ARPA funds allocated to the 44112 zip code area of Cleveland Heights. President Hart responded that a consultant has been hired to administer this complex program. A series of public meetings will begin in July with details posted on social media and the city website.
Mayor Seren praised the glorious weekend events for Pride and Juneteenth, emphasizing the atmosphere, sense of community, and calm. He thanked council for the passage this evening of legislation banning conversion therapy, providing anti-discrimination in city contracts, and expanding the parental leave policy.
Council action on second reading
Council passed the following legislation on second reading:
Appointment of an Assessment Equalization Board for street, parkway, curb, and tree maintenance assessments. The board would comprise three non-residents who are unpaid volunteers recommended by the finance director and confirmed by council. It reviews assessments, hears property owner objections, and can make warranted adjustments to send to council for approval.
Appointment of a similar board for street lighting assessments.
Adoption of the 2023 Tax Budget.
An agreement with Meritech and C.C.T. Financial for copy machines and their maintenance.
An ordinance prohibiting fireworks at all times and dates including dates allowed by Ohio law. The penalty would be a first-degree misdemeanor. It was acknowledged that this would not be easy to enforce, but the city will do its best for the health, safety, and peace of its neighborhoods.
An ordinance to prohibit any psychiatric treatment, including conversion therapy, to change an individual’s sexual orientation.
Appointment of a clerk of council, enumeration of the clerk’s duties, and the salary schedule, position classification, and other benefits.
Establishment of a new section of the city code entitled “Non-Discrimination in City Contracts,” prohibiting discrimination against any person for a long list of reasons.
Replacement of maternity leave sections in the city code with “paid parental and childbirth leave” sections.
Removal of city staff from the Transportation and Environmental Sustainability Committee. This citizen committee provides recommendations to council and therefore it would be a conflict of interest for staff to sit on it. Mr. Cuda wants the residents serving on committees and boards to know that the council hears them and will be discussing committee structure and application process soon.
Proclamation of July as National Parks and Recreation Month.
Passed on first reading
Legislation passed on first reading includes:
- Amendments to the appropriations and expenditures for the 2022 fiscal year.
- Amendments of the 2022 fiscal year budget to provide for hiring a clerk of council.
- Approval of meetings and hearings to be held, and quorums and votes to be counted, by teleconference, video conference, or similar electronic technology, until July 1, 2022, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Legislation presented on first reading with no vote were:
- An ordinance to create an Appraisal Gap Program under which the city may cover a portion of construction costs in areas of disinvestment. As banks may not approve the entire amount in qualified census tracts, this will allow the city to fill the “appraisal gap” to facilitate the construction and sale of new homes on vacant lots to owner-occupants. Given that these problems arise from the foreclosure crisis and the pandemic, funding will come from ARPA funds.
- Amendment of the standing council committees to update the general responsibilities of each standing committee by subject matter. Details can be found on page 87 of the June 21 packet.
- Authorization of a lease agreement with T-Mobile for the use of city property at 3445 Mayfield Road for a wireless communications facility.
Community block grants
Council approved a consent agenda covering appropriations from the Year 48 Community Development Block Grant Funds to fund the following ten grants:
- Benjamin Rose Institute for accessibility improvements at Margaret Wagner Affordable Senior Housing ($15,000)
- Family Connections of Northeast Ohio for Family School Connections Program ($21,000) and Parent Café ($3,000)
- FutureHeights for the Community Capacity Building Program ($45,000), Small Business Outreach/Technical Assistance ($25,000), and Noble Road Banner Project ($10,000)
- Gesher for Benefits Counseling Program ($10,000)
- Heights Emergency Food Center for Food Pantry ($24,000) and ADA Improvements ($45,000)
- Home Repair Resource Center for Housing Counseling ($25,000), Financial Assistance Programs ($30,000), and Program Delivery ($139,000)
- Lake Erie Ink for Ink Spot After School Program ($11,000)
- Naaleh Cleveland for Mental Health Services ($8,000)
- Open Doors Academy for Year-round Academic and Enrichment Programming for Disadvantaged Middle School Youth ($10,000) and Pathways to Independence Programming at Cleveland Heights High School ($16,000)
- Start Right CDC for Food Pantry ($7,000)
The Housing and Building Committee (Cuda, chair) will meet August 1. The Planning and Development Committee (Mattox, chair) will meet in August. The Public Safety and Health Committee (Larson, chair) made appointments to the Racial Justice Task Force. The Community Relations and Recreation Committee (Russell, chair) will meet August 1. Ms. Russell talked about Cain Park including many free programs and the Cain Park Arts Festival July 8-10, Cumberland Pool, the cooling center available to all at the Community Center, the Hillcrest/Heights Farmer’s Market at Quarry Park in South Euclid until October, and a community shredding day in the fall.
Council member comments
Mr. Cuda praised the Juneteenth celebration on Coventry Road.
Ms. Russell thanked the Coventry SID and Safer Heights for Juneteenth and spoke about being “constitutionally free.”
Ms. Moore praised the Juneteenth event, calling it “inspiring and uplifting.”
Mr. Mattox called Juneteenth “amazing.” He urged people in the Taylor and Noble areas to please show up at future public meetings about ARPA funds. He spoke about how much he cares about that area, having grown up on Rushleigh and being the pastor of a church at Euclid and Noble. He noted there is no ward representation and that all council members represent all residents. He expressed a strong feeling about past public meeting situations. Ms. Russell responded to Mr. Mattox’s comments, saying she is ecstatic that everyone on council is now interested in Noble/Taylor but claimed that she never locked anyone out of meetings. She said she had responded to area residents’ requests that a particular meeting be held only for area residents.
Council President Hart criticized Mr. Mattox and Ms. Russell for a strident disagreement on structuring public meetings, adding that members should talk out such differences elsewhere.
Committee of the whole (COW)
The COW ran from 6-7:30 p.m. and resumed at 9 p.m. in executive session to consider the appointment of public officials and public employees.
In addition to considering some of the legislation for the council meeting, there was a presentation by four representatives of the Coventry PEACE Campus tenants. They acknowledged council’s reluctance to get involved and laid out their difficulties dealing with the Heights Libraries, the owner of the building.
LWV Observer: 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