University Heights City Council meeting 4-17-23
APRIL 17, 2023 regular meeting
- Mayor’s report
- City council reports
- Staff reports
- Committee reports
Present were Mayor Michael Dylan Brennan, Vice Mayor Michelle Weiss, and Council Members Barbara Blankfeld, Christopher Cooney, Justin Gould, Brian J. King, and John P. Rach. Sheri Sax was not present. Also present were Kelly Thomas, clerk of council; Luke McConville, law director; Dennis Kennedy, finance director; and Joseph Ciuni, city engineer. The public meeting ran about two and one half hours.
Mayor Brennan reported that voluntary overtime for members of the service department has been authorized because all members will be involved with rubbish removal. University Heights has joined Cleveland Heights in welcoming the Heights Poet Laureate. Applications for the Memorial Day parade are available and also workshops to help the participants. On June 11, Greenway Partners will sponsor a community bike ride. Construction at the intersection of Saybrook, Washington, and Silsby roads has started. Demolition of 3778 Meadowbrook will begin tomorrow. The resolution supporting home rule for common sense gun laws has been referred to the council’s Safety Committee. Because he has sponsored the resolution, the mayor asked the committee to change their scheduled May 1 meeting, as he has a conflict due to a prior commitment.
City council reports
Ms. Weiss noted progress in plans discussed in the annual Committee of the Whole retreat held about a year ago. This includes new standards for employment contracts, work on a new zoning code, possible outsourcing of Purvis Park concessions, and the summer concert series. Community outreach is more streamlined, bike lanes are moving forward, and new phone systems for city hall and the police and fire departments have been approved. Under the Safety Committee the new Door-to-Door registry has been implemented for solicitors. Under the Service and Utility Committee a new garbage collection/recycling program has been implemented although work is ongoing on these issues.
Councilman Jason Gould, who is moving to North Carolina, announced his resignation from council effective immediately after conclusion of the meeting.
Tony Ramos of NOPEC presented electric service aggregation for University Heights residents. The cost will be about half of what the utility is offering per kilowatt hour. Opt-in will be automatic. Natural gas rates will be determined separately. The NOPEC website has further information. A Green Community Choice option is available for a minimal increased cost. Council would have to pass legislation to make University Heights a Green Community Choice city, but residents can choose the option individually.
Council authorized bidding for street resurfacing on Miramar, Ashhurst, Claridge Oval, and Laurelhurst. Prior to the vote, Mr. Ciuni presented an inventory for needed street repairs and resurfacing. Council raised concerns on discrepancies between budgeted amounts and projected costs, which Mr. Ciuni attributed to increased costs of materials and labor. Council members pointed out other inaccuracies, such as the amount of roadway included, which Mr. Ciuni claimed had been corrected. Any of the streets to be considered for bids in the approved authorization can be removed but addition of other streets would require legislation.
Council approved the bid from Extreme Land Care Landscaping for the yard abatement program. Only the one company had bid, and the rates were comparable to the costs for the last two years.
Council authorized purchase of 10 Fire Department Motorola Mobile Radios to bring the technology up to date. This was part of a five-year capital improvement process.
Council authorized the purchase of two new police vehicles and trade-ins of seven police vehicles to offset the expense.
Council approved participation in the ODOT road salt contract.
Council authorized extension of recycling processing service with Kimble Company and extension of the solid waste disposal agreement with BFI of Ohio. These ordinances were passed on emergency because of the new recycling ordinance, details of which are still being worked out.
Council tabled a motion for a new Kubota vehicle for the service department so that the law director could research a possible breach of contract. The vendor said it could no longer honor the price on the contract that was approved last year. The vehicle should have been delivered months ago per the contract.
Ms. Weiss appointed herself as temporary head of the Safety Committee upon Mr. Gould’s resignation. Under the charter, the vice mayor has 30 days to appoint a new council member and it is her responsibility to make committee assignments.
Council moved to executive session to discuss legal matters.
Finance Director Dennis Kennedy reported that the books for March are closed and reports are coming in. Special assessments are doing well and the investment portfolio has a good balance.
The law director and economic development directors said they would give their reports in executive session.
The Community Outreach Committee will meet April 27 to choose a new IT provider.
The Finance Committee will meet April 25 at 7 p.m.
On behalf of the Safety Committee, Mr. Gould reported that the vote on the home rule resolution should be part of a broader conversation to bring in business members, the Finance Committee, and others to underscore the importance of home rule and to demand real action on gun violence.
The Service and Utilities Committee will meet April 27 at 6 p.m.
LWV Observer: Marilyn Singer.
Meeting packets, legislation, and other information can be found on the city website at: https://www.universityheights.com/council/
Videos of council meetings can be viewed on the “City of University Heights” YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCA82j5L_CkQxK9cXP_qrXvw/videos