City Council, Dec. 17, 2018

December 24th, 2018  |  Published in Observer Reports

City Council Regular Meeting
Dec. 17, 2018

The numbering of items in this report corresponds to the item numbering of the meeting agenda. (Meeting agenda, minutes and presentations are available online at City of Shaker Heights website.)

 

Present: Mayor David Weiss; Council members Sean Malone, Nancy Moore, Tres Roeder, Julianna Johnston Senturia, Anne Williams, Earl Williams Jr., and Robert Zimmerman; Finance Committee citizen members Martin Kolb and Anthony Moore

Others present: Chief Administrative Officer Jeri Chaikin, Law Director William Gruber, Finance Director Robert Baker, Chief of Police Ed DeMuth, Fire Chief Patrick Sweeney, Public Works Director Patricia Speese, Planning Director Joyce Braverman, Recreation Director Alexandria Nichols, Information Technology Director Frank Miozzi, Human Resources Manager Sandra Middleton

The meeting was called to order by Mayor Weiss at 7:05 p.m.

Agenda—Council actions:

  1. The minutes of the Nov. 12 and Nov. 26, 2018, regular meetings were approved.
  2. Mr. Gruber recommended that Council confirm the mayor’s reappointments of Board of Appeals members Arun Kottha, Joseph MacDonald, Nancy Moore, and Earl Williams to new two-year terms beginning Jan. 1. The recommendation was approved.
  3. Ms. Braverman recommended that Council confirm the mayor’s reappointment of Architectural Board of Review member Sandra Madison to a new three-year term beginning Jan. 1. The recommendation was approved.
  4. Ms. Braverman also recommended that Council confirm the mayor’s reappointment of Board of Zoning Appeals/City Planning Commission member John J. Boyle III to a new six-year term beginning Jan. 1. The recommendation was approved.

Mayor Weiss then opened the floor for public comment regarding any of the agenda items. One resident came forward to express concern regarding agenda Item 10, the granting of a conditional use permit for the Loving Cup Academy daycare at 16500 Chagrin Blvd. The resident was concerned about the safety of children entering the daycare facility due to tow truck traffic approaching the adjacent post office vehicle repair facility.

  1. Ms. Middleton presented a recommendation authorizing a contract with McGowan Insurance for property and casualty insurance in the amount of $341,384 for the year 2019. This coverage includes automobile, general liability, property, public officials, law enforcement, fire department liability, employment practices, boiler and machinery, money and securities, computer and valuable papers, to name a few. A Request for Proposals was sent to four agencies that have specialized experience insuring public sector clients; only McGowan Governmental Underwriters, the incumbent agent, provided a proposal, with a 6 percent increase. The overriding reason given for the agent/markets withdrawal from the process was the state of the city’s dams on Doan Brook.

Mr. Malone commented that the Finance Committee had tasked an ad-hoc group to consider the lack of response to this request for proposals. Their judgment was the bid was in line with market costs with the improved coverage and that the situation would improve after all repairs were completed to city dams on Doan Brook. Mr. Roeder wondered what was needed to get better proposal response in the future. He also asked if small claims were now being tracked. Mr. Williams asked if other cities in the area with similar liabilities would work together to get more quotes. The city’s consultant, Daniel O’Brien, was present and told Council that recent flood loss claims nationwide due to hurricanes and other abnormal rain incidents had generally increased the aversion of insurance underwriters to cities with dams. The recommendation was approved.

  1. Mr. Gruber requested that Council adopt corrections on first reading and as an emergency in order to ensure the accuracy of Ordinance 17-91, which was enacted by Council on Nov. 13, 2017, and amended numerous sections of the Administrative and Health Codes of the City. The request was approved.
  2. Mr. Gruber requested that Council adopt corrections on first reading and as an emergency in order to ensure the accuracy of Ordinance 17-92, which was enacted by Council on Nov. 13, 2017, and amended numerous sections of the Administrative, Fire, Building and Housing Codes of the City. The request was approved.
  3. Mr. Gruber recommended that Council approve revisions to the city’s ordinances to ensure that certain sections of the ordinances are consistent and not in conflict with state law; to facilitate the administration of justice and the daily operation of various city departments; and to avoid practical and legal entanglements. It is recommended that these amendments be adopted on first reading and as an emergency to allow the prompt republication of the city’s ordinances with the updates, and to allow the city’s ordinances to come into consistency with state law as soon as possible. The recommendation was approved.
  4. Ms. Braverman requested that Council extend the moratorium on accepting applications for approval of Type A Day Care Homes for an additional 90 days to allow more time for the administration, Planning Commission, and Council to decide how to regulate Type A in-home day care operations going forward. On Oct. 9 this year, Council enacted a moratorium to prohibit the city from accepting applications for approval of Type A Day Care Homes for 90 days to enable Council to review current regulations and decide what is in the best interests of the community in the future. The moratorium went into effect on Oct. 10, 2018, when the resolution was signed by Mayor Weiss. Thus, the moratorium expires on Jan. 8, 2019. Mr. Williams asked if the Planning Commission was prohibited from considering new Type A Day Care applications during the moratorium. Ms. Braverman confirmed no new applications are considered during the moratorium. The request was approved, continuing the moratorium into early April.
  5. Ms. Braverman requested that Council approve a revised Conditional Use Permit for Loving Cup Academy, an existing childcare center at 16500 Chagrin Boulevard and that this ordinance be passed on first reading in order for renovation of the space to commence. Loving Cup Academy proposes to expand into adjacent commercial space in the building to accommodate additional before- and after-school care for children at this existing daycare center. The existing daycare use was conditionally approved in April 2004 with parking, access, and drop-off improvements required in the interior courtyard. An expansion of the daycare use into the same adjacent commercial space in the building was previously approved in 2006 for a different operator, but was not utilized by the current operator.

Mr. Zimmerman asked about the public comment regarding the safety of children during drop-off and pick-up in the courtyard. Ms. Braverman explained that the post office repair facility adjacent to the daycare center shared an access road with the daycare courtyard entrance, but did not share the courtyard parking area; in fact, post office vehicles are prohibited from entering the courtyard. Mr. Zimmerman asked if this affected the daycare’s conditional use permit. Ms. Braverman replied that maybe it did. Mr. Zimmerman asked if anything had changed since the conditional use permit was first allowed for the previous operator. Ms. Braverman answered it had not. Mayor Weiss said that the permit request is for the present operator. Mr. Malone asked if conditions could be added for approval. Ms. Braverman replied that conditions could be added and Mr. Malone recommended some safety conditions be added. Mr. Weiss remarked that added safety measures might best be achieved by changes in the access road. Mr. Roeder expressed concern about passing this on first reading without study. Ms. Braverman said that the post office facility provisional use could be revoked or Council could force compliance by post office vehicles. Mr. Williams asked that Council be advised of any discussion with the post office. Mr. Weiss reminded everyone that post office vehicles were not entering the courtyard and were in compliance, that the post office’s use of the access road did not affect the conditional use permit under consideration, and that the daycare operators were not the offenders. Mr. Zimmerman offered that he would approve with some stipulations. Mr. Roeder agreed with Mr. Zimmerman about stipulations. Ms. Senturia said that the daycare operators had considered child safety in the permit request by staging drop-off and pickup in the courtyard. Ms. Williams asked how long had a daycare been in operation in the location. Ms. Braverman said more than 20 years.Mr. Roeder shared that he is aware of the particular traffic area as he works nearby and it is worthy of further consideration. Mr. Zimmerman would like more study, for his personal comfort, but he would withdraw his motion with stipulations in order to have a vote. The request was approved with Mr. Roeder and Mr. Zimmerman voting no.

  1. Ms. Speese presented a recommendation to approve and authorize the execution of a Community Cost Share Agreement with the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District (NEORSD) in the amount not-to-exceed $50,000 for the Fairhill combined sewer overflow (CSO). NEORSD notified Public Works that the outlet pipe for the Fairhill CSO had significantly deteriorated. The outlet pipe, located north of the Fairhill and Kemper roads intersection, discharges into Doan Brook and is owned by the city. NEORSD proposed a cost share for this replacement, since district flow is conveyed through the CSO during wet weather events. They are agreeable to paying 50 percent of the cost with a not-to-exceed $50,000. The recommendation was approved.
  2. Ms. Speese next presented a recommendation to accept a proposal and authorize a contract with GPD Group for design services for the Avalon and Strathavon Road Waterline Project in the amount of $53,622. Public Works applied for and received funding from Cleveland Water Suburban Water Main Renewal program to replace the water mains on Avalon Road (Fernway Road to Van Aken Boulevard) and Strathavon Road (Lomond Boulevard to Scottsdale Road). Cleveland Water Department (CWD) has agreed to pay for this project on the condition that Shaker Heights design and manage the project. CWD will pay the city the total costs of the design and construction. The recommendation was approved.
  3. Ms. Chaikin presented a recommendation to approve and authorize a contract with the Cuyahoga County Board of Health (CCBH) in the amount of $135,033 for 2019 and $155,041 for 2020, to handle health permitting, licensing, and enforcement under Ohio law, and to provide various health-related services to the city’s residents. Ohio adopted a requirement that all city health departments become accredited by the federal Public Health Accreditation Board by July 1, 2020, or lose necessary funding from the Ohio Department of Health. The city’s Health Department could not achieve public health accreditation without substantial additional resources and reorganization. Council voted on Nov. 13, 2017, to close its own health department and join the CCBH, effective Jan. 1, 2018, at a savings of $245,000 each year. The recommendation was approved.

2018 & 2019 Budget Ordinances:

Mr. Baker then shared a presentation with Council summarizing the actual performance of the city’s departments, individually and as a whole, compared to the 2018 budget. The major issue for 2018 was the $535,000 income tax receipts shortfall during the last quarter and the lack of understanding as to the cause. The consequence of the shortfall was that final 2018 revenue was less than 2017. The concern is whether this shortfall is temporary or a “new normal.” The city was fortunate that all departments except Recreation were under budget for their 2018 spending and the Police Department’s thorough but slow process filling open positions resulted in a $1.2 million windfall. This allowed an increase in transfers out from the general fund into other funds and maintenance of a creditworthy reserve fund. Mr. Baker’s theory, shared by others, is that the 2018 federal tax code changes have significantly delayed quarterly estimated tax payments by individuals not subject to withholding and that the true impact will be known only after April 15, 2019, which is too late for a temporary budget. The 2019 final budget is therefore fiscally conservative: income tax receipts are estimated to rise only 2 percent over 2018 actuals whereas expenses will rise 3.5 percent. This does not include a 2 percent Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) for employees and will leave the year-end 2019 general operating fund surplus at only $7,198.

Mr. Williams asked if the budget could be amended if the city comes up short. Mr. Baker replied that state statute requires that the city spend only what receipts would support. Mr. Malone said he was optimistic about revenue but concerned about the elimination of COLA in the budget; that perhaps we should defer some capital spending to pay COLA. He added that this situation highlights how dependent the city is on individual income taxes versus business income taxes.

  1. Mr. Baker introduced the first of the city’s budget ordinances with his request to approve the amendments to various 2018 operating budget General Fund transfers and advances and to adopt an ordinance amending 2018 appropriations on first reading and as an emergency. The amendments need to be made so that there is sufficient appropriation authority within department and fund budgets to pay all personal service and other expenditure costs. The budget amendments are being requested in order to amend appropriation levels so that all year-end expenditures post in the 2018 budget year. The impact of the recommended budget amendments is included in the fourth quarter budget projections. The request was approved.
  2. Mr. Baker introduced an ordinance making appropriations for the current expenses and other expenditures of the city of Shaker Heights for the year ending Dec. 31, 2019, and declaring an emergency. This is the 2019 Operating Budget ordinance.

Mayor Weiss said that the city administration and Council are very concerned about the lack of COLA in the 2019 budget. Ms. Williams voiced her great disappointment about the lack of COLA and her belief that other budget changes could be made in order to allow COLA. She will support the budget but wants to continue to search for ways to reallocate money. Ms. Senturia thanked Ms. Chaikin and Mr. Baker for their responsible modification of the budget in light of the revenue shortfall. She was disappointed, given that the city is limited to spending within receipts, that there was no COLA, yet the city would continue to budget to maintain a 33 percent reserve at year-end. She questioned why the reserve was not drawn down in order to restore the COLA; the city could rebuild the reserve when future revenue allowed. Mayor Weiss replied that the city needed to preserve its credit rating. He would agree using the reserve is a good idea if needed and worthy of future discussion. Ms. Moore said she thinks this is a responsible budget in light of the city’s historically conservative fiscal planning; as soon as the city realizes increasing revenue, Council should prioritize COLA. The ordinance was approved with Ms. Senturia voting no.

  1. Mr. Baker introduced an ordinance appropriating funds from the General Capital Fund to provide for the purchase of equipment for use by the Police Department, and declaring an emergency. The ordinance was approved.
  2. Mr. Baker introduced an ordinance appropriating funds from the General Capital Fund to provide for the purchase of equipment for use by the Fire Department and declaring an emergency.

Mr. Malone asked where the new fire truck lease payment was recorded in the budget. Mr. Baker replied the lease payment was included as part of the “other” line of the Fire Department operating budget. Mr. Roeder wished to know the actual yearly expense for the lease. Mr. Baker replied the lease is $130,000 per year and the lessor receives a favorable tax treatment because the lease is to a government body. The ordinance was approved.

  1. Mr. Baker introduced an ordinance appropriating funds from the General Capital Fund to provide for the purchase of equipment for use by the Public Works Department and declaring an emergency. The ordinance was approved.
  2. Mr. Baker introduced an ordinance appropriating funds from the General Capital Fund for the acquisition of equipment and various repairs and improvement projects for various city facilities and declaring an emergency. The ordinance was approved.
  3. Mr. Baker introduced an amendment to two ordinances appropriating funds from the General Capital Fund for the acquisition of equipment and various repairs and improvement projects for various city facilities by appropriating an additional $225,000 from the General Capital Fund for City Hall renovation and declaring an emergency. The amendment was approved.
  4. Mayor Weiss introduced a recommendation appropriating funds from the General Capital Fund to provide for the 2019 Street Resurfacing Program, and declaring an emergency. The recommendation was approved.
  5. Mayor Weiss introduced a recommendation appropriating funds from the Sewer Capital Improvements Fund to provide funding for the repair of mainline sewers, laterals, and culverts, and declaring an emergency. The recommendation was approved.
  6. Mayor Weiss introduced a recommendation appropriating funds from the General Capital Fund for the acquisition of equipment, repairs, etc., by the Recreation Department and declaring an emergency. The recommendation was approved.
  7. Mayor Weiss introduced a recommendation appropriating funds from the General Capital Fund for the purchase of information technology equipment, software, and licenses for use by various city departments and declaring an emergency. The recommendation was approved.

Mayor Weiss adjourned the meeting at 9:29 p.m.
Frank Goforth

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