University Heights City Council meeting highlights 9-4-2018



  • Public comments
  • Updates by Mayor Brennan
  • IT package
  • Fall temporary labor
  • Cedar Green crosswalk project
  • 3950 Silsby Road
  • Fund transfers
  • Streetlight, sewer and tree assessments
  • Public safety grants
  • Budget Commission tax certification
  • Fingerprint ID
  • Garbage collection purchase
  • Sidewalk snow plow purchase
  • Vehicle purchase
  • Tree pruning and removal bids


Present were Mayor Michael D Brennan, Vice Mayor Susan Pardee, Pamela Cameron, John Rach, Steven Sims, Michele Weiss and Mark Wiseman. Also present were Acting Law Director Mike Cicero and Finance Director James Goffe. The meeting was held from 7 to 10 p.m. at which time council went to executive session.

Public comments

Although council started by receiving praise from residents for the new bike lane ordinance and repaving of Barrington Road, they also heard from two residents with extensive complaints. Virginia Benson of Cedarbrook told Council that the area between Cedar and Cedarbrook from Taylor to Brockway is the worst part of the city, filled with deteriorating houses, weeds and trash. She has taken many photos but needs the city to hear her concerns and provide some help. Sherry Dewer of Washington Boulevard expressed similar concerns about her neighborhood, and especially the apartment building next door to her. She said she has a long list, but since public comment time is limited, she will continue to come to meetings to raise her concerns one by one. At the conclusion of the meeting, Mike Cook, director of communications and civic engagement, said he would get in touch with both residents and begin working to address their concerns. Attorney Mike Cicero did note that the Ohio Legislature changed the law so that tree lawns now belong fully to the property owner—not to the city—and so are the responsibility of the property owner.

Updates by Mayor Brennan

The city is reinstating the Civic Awards Dinner, to be held this year on Nov. 15. Awards will be presented to the citizen of the year, public servant of the year, and employee of the year. Nominations are being sought. He also reported that he has pledged to work with the school board to find the best use of the Wiley School property. Regarding the fees for rental properties, he is recommending that council allow the temporary block to the ordinance to sunset, rescind the fee portion of the ordinance, and allow the prior fee structure to resume until a new plan can be put into place.

IT package

Council approved an IT package from PC Alternatives, the city’s current IT vendor, for a server, computer upgrades, associated software, and installation at a cost not to exceed $63,334.99. The bulk of the cost is for hardware and for software license fees. James Goffe is researching less expensive software licensing options. These updates will enable standardized email accounts, calendar sharing and centralized security. Some of the cost is to replace computers that are too old to be updated. The installation is planned to enable equipment to be moved around instead of being hard-wired into the current spaces.

Fall temporary labor

Council approved a contract with Minute Men Staffing for 2018-2020, providing temporary labor to assist with outdoor yard waste collection over the next three years. The cost for three years is not to exceed $58,701. Minute Men was the only bidder.

Cedar Green crosswalk project

Council accepted the bid from Burton Scott Contractors for the new crosswalk project at the intersections at Cedar and Green roads at a price of $165,000, which includes $10,000 for possible overruns. This cost will be paid in part by the $142,965 received as a grant from the Community Development Block Grant Fund. Joseph Ciuni, the city’s engineer, explained that the bid came in higher than projected because of the accelerated bidding process and the need to complete the project before October 31. Most contractors are already fully scheduled for the season.

3950 Silsby Road

Council approved transfer of the city-owned house at 3950 Silsby to the Cuyahoga County Land Reutilization Corporation (the land bank) as a nuisance parcel to be torn down. The house, which has been used by the city for storage, has been heavily damaged by water and is not recoverable. After demolition, ownership of the lot transfers back to the city. Mayor Brennan has been salvaging historic documents and plaques from the property. The yellow house next door, also owned by the city, will become the new storage house. (Ordinance 2018-43)

Fund transfers

Council approved Ordinance 2018-44, a standard financial process transferring funds between the general fund and special use funds, and recording some appropriations that were previously authorized but not yet recorded.

Streetlight, sewer, and tree assessments

In another annual process, council renewed the sewer fund at its current rates since this fund has a reasonable balance. Council raised the street light fund from $.70 to $.80 per front linear foot, and reduced the tree fund assessment from $.80 to $.70 per front linear foot, due to excessive balances in the tree fund and shortfalls in the street light fund. The net action will leave assessments unchanged.

Public safety grants

Council accepted a grant from the Bureau of Workers Compensation in the amount of $6,916.25 to cover the cost of protective equipment for dangerous environmental elements. They also accepted a grant from the Ohio Department of Public Safety Division of Emergency Medical Services in the amount of $3,790.00 to equip the new ambulance. Both grants were sought by interim Fire Chief Perko.

Budget commission tax certification

This was another annual procedural item, accepting the tax levies as determined by the county budget commission and certifying them to the county fiscal officer

Fingerprint ID

The city will now begin offering fingerprint identification for people who need to be certified for various job applications. A portion of the fees collected will need to be paid to the Bureau of Criminal Investigation and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. These funds will enable those collected fees to be set aside prior to being paid out. The city will be included on the Ohio State Auditor’s website as an available location for testing.

Vehicle purchases

Council authorized purchase of a Mack LR64 cab and chassis with a Heil Durapack 5000 Rear Loader Rubbish Packer from Bell Equipment Company in an amount not to exceed $222,818.84. Councilman Rach noted that the budgeted amount had been $180,000 and voted against the purchase due to the cost increase. Mr. Pokorny explained that the budgeted amount was based on last year’s purchase and was for a “high entry” truck. Since this truck will be used for pickups that require repeatedly exiting and entering the truck, it was decided that a “low entry” truck would be preferable in spite of the higher cost. Mr. Goffe noted that the cost of workers comp claims and simple fatigue are true dollar costs to the city. Mr. Pokorny also noted that the final cost for all of the vehicles purchased this year ended up with a net increase of $24,000 over budget, since some vehicles were under budget. This truck will replace the 1989 Beachwood truck which is not able to make the longer trips to Independence and Twinsburg to dispose of the trash. He hopes to auction the truck on the dot-gov site.

Council authorized purchase of a 2018 rubber track four-cylinder diesel sidewalk snow plow from Gibson Machinery LLC in an amount not to exceed $127,475. This will replace the last of the old sidewalk plows, which is 32 years old. The old plow will be used as a backup. Only one bid was received. The cost in 2015 was $109,000 from the same provider. The reason for the significant increase is not known.

Council approved purchase of two 2018 Ford SUV’s, for use by administration and the fire prevention officer, through the Ohio Cooperative Purchasing Program for a total not to exceed $57,668, plus an additional $17,995.71 for specialized equipment. Purchase of these vehicles was planned for next year, but the city was notified that these vehicles are being discontinued and the new models will be hybrids and problematic for the current ancillary equipment.

Tree pruning and removal bids

The city will seek bids for the fall 2018 removal of 32 trees that are dead or dying from tree lawns—many of them silver maples—and the pruning of four trees. Most tree pruning is done during the winter, but these are all deemed urgent. Mr. Pokorny noted that if a tree is healthy but the roots are encroaching on driveways or sidewalks the city will help to grind down or remove the roots. He also noted, in response to a question, that if an owner does not remove a dead tree from their property after being notified by the city, the city reserves the right to remove the tree as a public safety hazard, and the cost will be billed to the property’s tax bill. The owner will receive more than one notice before the city acts.

Department reports

Finance Director James Goffe reported that the city’s GAAP conversion will be completed by September 27, and auditors are working to complete their review by October 31. He has also begun meeting with department heads to determine budget needs for 2019. Mike Cicero reported that the city has received two complaints of violations of the fair housing laws for a refusal to accept housing vouchers and for asking inappropriate questions of potential renters. The city is required to investigate these allegations.

Interim Police Chief Dustin Rogers reported that he has attended multiple LexiPro orientation sessions and will begin implementing the new system on September 20. The new vehicles purchased previously have been obtained and are being outfitted now, to be ready by the end of the year. He is preparing to hire three police officers to fill vacancies. Interim Fire Chief Perko is also looking to hire several new employees. He plans to make offers in October and is looking for long-term hires.

Mike Cook, the new head of communications and civic engagement, is revamping the website and working on the new logo and re-branding process. He helped develop flyers for upcoming events and plans to start a city magazine to be issued three times per year. He is developing a city Instagram page, and is creating some short videos for Facebook.

Ms. Susan Drucker started last week as the head of community development and was sworn in tonight. She is starting outreach to area businesses, real estate brokers and peers in other communities.

Executive session

The council went into executive session at 10 p.m. to discuss personnel and real estate matters.

The next meeting will be Monday, Sept. 18 at 7 p.m.

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. 

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