Joint City Council/Finance Committee Work Session & Special Meeting, December 2017

December 29th, 2017  |  Published in Observer Reports

Joint Council/Finance Committee Work Session & Special Meeting
Dec. 4, 2017

(Meeting Agenda, Minutes and Presentations are available at

Members Present: Mayor Earl Leiken; Council members Nancy Moore, Sean Malone, Tres Roeder, Julianna Senturia, Anne Williams, Earl Williams and Robert Zimmerman; citizen members Martin Kolb, Linda Lalley and Brian Rosenfelt
Others present: Chief Administrative Officer Jeri Chaikin, Finance Director Robert Baker, Assistant Finance Director Cheryl Arslanian, Chief of Police Ed DeMuth, Fire Chief Patrick Sweeney, Law Director William Gruber, Public Works Director Patricia Speese, Building and Housing Director Kyle Krewson, Recreation Director Alexandria Nichols, Information Technology Director Frank Miozzi

The meeting was called to order by Mayor Leiken at 7:05 p.m. Ms. Chaikin called roll, all members were present.

Agenda—Council actions:

1. Proposed 2018 Capital Budget:

Ms. Chaikin introduced the presentation on the Proposed 2018 capital budget. The $7.3 million 2018 capital budget is a work in progress as part of the $101 million 10-year capital plan. This is a rolling budget process that begins in June each year with an updated 10-year plan. Capital needs are developed in July/August each year; revenue available to support capital needs is forecast in the September/October timeframe, when each city department estimates their need. All department budgets were reduced this year. The 2018 $4.75 million general capital budget will be funded by a 2017 general fund transfer; $1.75 million of the 2018 sewer capital budget will be funded by a 2017 general fund transfer, and the remaining $800,000 of the $2.55 million sewer capital budget will be funded from 2016 borrowing and an NEORSD grant awarded in 2017.

Mr. Roeder inquired whether the 10-year capital forecast was planned or a wish list—were “want to do” or “need to do”? Ms. Chaikin replied that the 10-year plan was based on the city’s forecasted needs. Mr. Williams asked how this plan may have changed in the past two years due to the Ohio state auditor’s decisions regarding use of state tax revenue. Ms. Chaikin replied that state tax revenue was no longer available for capital budget needs. Mr. Leiken interjected that the city is challenged by a 100-year-old infrastructure—particularly sewers, which are underground and not visible. Mr. Rosenfelt commented that sewer needs are very significant and wondered aloud how this has changed with the new Van Aken district and how that will affect the 10-year capital plan. Ms. Chaikin replied that the public works operating budget is much higher now, not only for sewer needs, but also because streets are being improved for longer life.

Police Department Capital Budget
Chief DeMuth reviewed the police department component of the capital budget. Police cruisers, with four-year lifespans, are being replaced with SUV vehicles due to their longer life, lower maintenance costs, better visibility, larger capacity and better performance in snow. Costs include all installed electronic equipment. The department’s Tasers are being replaced with units that are less lethal, relying on muscle disruption rather than pain compliance. Injuries to subjects as well as injuries to police officers have decreased. M-4 patrol rifles have exceeded their design life by almost 100 percent, but they are well beyond their useful life and it’s imperative to replace them. Costs include all accessories. K-9 replacement is due to the aging of one police dog, Charlie. The city will have four narcotics dogs and one explosives dog; the costs include training and fuel for commuting to the training facility. Police bike units will be used predominately in the Van Aken and Shaker Town Center vicinities. Bike units have advantages of access, response time and maneuverability in areas of high pedestrian density. The use of bikes will save fuel and allow officers to hear and see better. The costs include training and outfitting 20 officers.

Ms. Senturia verified that bicycle officers would only be available eight months each year and then asked if they would work in pairs or alone. Mr. DeMuth replied that the bike patrols would be single officers patrolling a complete shift. Mr. Williams had questions about the Tasers: are there examples of malfunctions and any studies of medical emergencies caused by the use of Tasers, particularly among African Americans? Are there statistics regarding their use in African American communities in other cities? Mr. DeMuth replied that there has been one reported incident of dysrhythmia after Taser use, but this was not in Shaker. Mr. Williams asked if that one incident was attributed to the Taser or the individual. Mr. DeMuth said the malfunction noted in that case is prevented by daily testing of the Taser before use. Mr. Williams asked if officers were trained about excessive use. Mr. DeMuth replied that the new Tasers have a feature which shuts off battery power after 5 seconds of continuous application. Mr. Williams observed that this information should be provided to the general population who are unaware of this safety feature. Mr. DeMuth clarified that the department’s existing Tasers did not have this feature, and were being replaced. Officers were trained to apply Tasers in short bursts. Ms. Moore returned to a question regarding bike patrols and asked if children on bicycles would be allowed to accompany bicycle officers? Mr. DeMuth answered that children would be allowed to ride along.

Fire Department Capital Budget
Chief Sweeney reviewed the fire department component of the capital budget. The 2007 Chevrolet Suburban command vehicle would be replaced by a six-passenger pickup vehicle with a cargo cover, allowing the separation of hazardous materials from the passenger compartment. The present vehicle has exceeded its useful life and the new vehicle will be equipped with extensive communications to neighboring municipalities and the capability to access electronic street maps, building plans, and utility maps versus today’s paper drawings. Breathing Air Cylinders have a max service life of 15 years and are being replaced at a rate of 14 units/year at $10,000/year. Current extrication equipment (Jaws of Life) are over 30 years old, require auxiliary hydraulic power units and will not work on some newer vehicles. New replacement units are battery-operated, lighter, stronger and work on all new vehicles. Portable radio replacement of 25 out of 35 radios is necessary because present radio units will be unsupported by the supplier beginning in 2018. New radios are intrinsically safe, and are water- and shock-resistant.

Ms. Lalley inquired about the communications technology component of the new command vehicle. Mr. Sweeney remarked that the communication is all digital, and no paper drawings are required. Ms. Lalley asked if it replaces or augments what’s in the present vehicle. Mr. Sweeney said it replaces what’s in the existing vehicle, and added that the air cylinders, extrication equipment and portable radios are all replacement requests, not new capabilities—just new technology. Mr. Williams returned to the previous conversation about the command vehicle to ask if the communications were compatible with neighboring municipalities. Were they interoperable frequencies? Does the chief have concerns? Chief Sweeney replied that not all neighboring communities use common frequencies and that our equipment would not always intercommunicate. Mr. Williams asked if other communities would be changing as well. Mr. Sweeney said they should be changing. Mr. Williams pressed the question, “Will they?” Mr. Sweeney answered that he communicates weekly with other local fire chiefs in order to keep informed, but if they do not replace their equipment, then there will be communication issues. Shaker Heights is an early adopter of this new equipment; other municipalities’ departments tried for grant money but did not receive it. Mr. Williams asked if the chief had concerns. Mr. Sweeney had some concerns, but neighbor cities were “on board.”

Public Works Department Capital Budget
Director Patricia Speese reviewed the public works component of the capital budget. Ms. Speese first emphasized all equipment requests ($639,000) were for replacement equipment, not new capabilities. Streets ($2 million), sewers ($2.55 million) and facilities ($923,000) projects were repair/preventive maintenance projects, not added infrastructure. Ms. Speese reminded everyone that the city has a 100-year-old infrastructure originally designed for a 50-year lifespan, and that the department is working through a $34 million priority list of sewer replacement projects. Ms. Speese also said that the philosophy 100 years ago was to place the storm sewer above the sanitary sewer and to treat the combined flow (newer communities, however, treated the two systems separately). Older sanitary systems, like ours, cannot always handle the volume of storm runoff going into the sanitary system. Mr. Rosenfelt asked how much of the sewer priority list is in the 10-year plan? Ms. Speese answered that all the priorities are in the 10-year plan, and then added that a complete upgrade of our sewer system would be in the range of $500 million. Mr. Roeder asked why lining a sewer was better than replacement? He said that 30 percent of Shaker’s budget goes to public works and asked about other options. Mayor Leiken interjected that the purpose of the meeting was to review and prioritize the 2018 budget, and a discussion of the 10-year plan, though important, should be the subject of a separate, and longer, meeting. Ms. Speese did tell Mr. Roeder that lining is preferable to replacement not only because it costs less, but also for its odor and corrosion resistance seal. Mr. Roeder asked what drove the cost for lining. Ms. Speese answered that about 50 percent of the cost was labor, but Shaker could leverage the purchasing power of Cuyahoga County to reduce material costs. Mr. Roeder remarked that if one company is doing all the work, would it not be better to bring the labor “in house”? Ms. Speese replied that capital equipment to perform these repairs is also expensive and Shaker does not own this special equipment, nor does Shaker have the expertise to perform these jobs. Mr. Malone then added he would appreciate a review of past contractor performance of sewer work. Ms. Speese then proceeded to give the streets resurfacing portion of the public works budget presentation, but was interrupted by Ms. Chaikin, who wished to talk next about facilities maintenance and updates, and the co-location of building and housing departments in city hall. Mr. Krewson quickly summarized the benefit of co-locating building and housing to reduce costs and ease for residents to get answers to their questions at one central location. The conversation then returned to street maintenance when Mr. Roeder asked if public works had considered new technology developments in paving and materials. Ms. Speese replied that public works now uses waterproof membranes and recycled materials. Mr. Roeder next asked about facilities usage, specifically the Shaker Family Center as an example of a community resource for sports and social activities as well as its revenue from the preschool program lease. Ms. Senturia said that there are other buildings the city owns and leases. Mr. Leiken commented that the Moreland building is owned by the city, but the Ludlow building is not. Ms. Lalley wished to return to the subject of street repair and asked if the department would have a better idea of improvements realized from new paving technologies in the next few weeks? Ms. Speese said they had already seen evidence of improved life and lower costs. Ms. Williams commented she would like a future review of street results.

Recreation Department Capital Budget
Director Alexandria Nichols reviewed the recreation department component of the capital budget. The list of repair/replacement projects total $405,000, but the Recreation and Health Committee recommended a $312,000 budget for 2018. Ms. Lalley asked if grants are possible for expansions. Ms. Nichols replied that the budget includes only repairs, not expansions. Ms. Williams remarked that not all $405,000 was budgeted. Mr. Roeder asked about missing budget figures for the Thornton Park tennis courts. Ms. Nichols replied that improvement of the Thornton tennis courts is delayed until the 2019 plan.

Information Technology Capital Budget
Director Frank Miozzi reviewed the information technology department component of the capital budget. These items are all routine maintenance requests. Software replacement: $35,000/year is about 25 percent of purchase price. Computer replacement: 33 of 225 computers at $2,000 each, for the recreation and public works departments. Antivirus: 300 endpoints. Antispam: 100,000 messages blocked each month. Network firewall replacement: $12,000. Virtual server replacement: presently provide eight virtual servers on three physical systems. Mr. Rosenfelt asked if outsourcing of antispam system had been considered. Mr. Miozzi replied that outsourcing would probably involve 500 users at $5/user, for $25,000/year versus $12,000. Mr. Rosenfelt continued to ask about outsourcing services. Mr. Miozzi replied that it had been considered. There were no other questions.

Projects funded previously and/or from other sources
Ms. Chaikin reviewed these projects. Mr. Kolb asked if the Green Lake project was complete. Ms. Chaikin confirmed that Green Lake was complete. Mr. Kolb commented this project was probably a $10 million windfall for Shaker Heights from NEORSD.

2. Award and authorization of contract with Catts Construction for Farnsleigh Road sewer & waterline replacement

Patricia Speese reviewed the Safety & Public Works Committee’s unanimous recommendation to award this contract to Catts Construction. The recommendation has not been to Finance Committee. This project had been placed for bid and Catts Construction was not the lowest bidder. The lowest bid had been made by Karvo Companies. The public works department had experience with both Catts Construction and Karvo Companies on several projects, with the experience that Catts Construction meets schedule and quality-of-work expectations (the Shaker Boulevard sewer project by Catts finished two months early), while Karvo Companies does not. Therefore the recommendation is to award to the lowest and best bidder, Catts Construction, per city ordinance. Ms. Senturia commented the SPW committee approved the contract unanimously. Ms. Moore commented that Cuyahoga County always takes low bid, but experience with Karvo can lead to the higher cost of poor quality. Mr. Malone asked if Catts was the same company that performed sewer lining work. Ms. Speese answered that Catts did not do lining work. Mr. Zimmerman asked if other projects would be delayed if this project were prioritized. Ms. Speese answered that no other projects would be delayed, and that this project has a very positive impact for many residents. Mr. Williams moved to accept the recommendation, Ms. Senturia seconded the motion, and council approved it unanimously with a roll-call vote.

Mayor Leiken adjourned the meeting at 9:27 p.m.
Frank Goforth

Comments are closed.