Finance Committee, April 15, 2019

May 7th, 2019  |  Published in Observer Reports

Members Present: Council members Sean Malone (chair), Nancy Moore; citizen members Thomas Cicarella, Linda Lalley, Martin Kolb, Anthony Moore

Others present: Mayor David Weiss, Chief Administrative Officer Jeri Chaikin, Fire Chief Patrick Sweeney, Director of Finance Robert Baker, Assistant Finance Director Cheryl Arslanian, Senior Human Resources Analyst Monica Hayes, Senior Planner Dan Feinstein, Housing Commissioner William Hanson

The meeting was called to order by Mr. Malone at 7:32 a.m.

Agenda—Committee actions:

  1. The minutes of the March 18, 2019, meeting were approved.
  2. Ms. Hayes presented a request that the Finance and Administration Committee authorize the appropriation of $2,425 into the HR department Wellness account to be used for various Wellness activities and the appropriation of $121.89 into the Training account to be used towards upcoming Lunch & Learn events. Medical Mutual of Ohio has sent two reimbursement checks, one for $2,425 and the other for $121.89 to assist the city with wellness initiatives. The request was approved without further comment.
  3. Mr. Feinstein presented a request to authorize a grant application to, and to accept a grant from, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) NatureWorks program for Fernway playground improvements. The Planning Department will submit a grant application for $100,000. The required 25 percent local match will be provided by the Shaker Heights School District.

Mr. Malone and Mr. Kolb asked Mr. Feinstein to clarify where this playground would be located on the Fernway property. Mr. Feinstein referenced the location on the map supplied with the agenda. Mr. Kolb noted this was a great example of the city and school board working together. Mayor Weiss commended the planning department for finding the grant to fund the effort. Mr. Kolb added that the city rather than the school board had to apply for the grant. Mr. Malone wished to learn what was in this area today. Mr. Feinstein replied the parking lot and some greenspace occupied the area. The request was approved.

  • Senior Planner Dan Feinstein presented a request to authorize purchase of land for $1.00 from the Shaker Heights School District to facilitate a grant application supporting creation of the Fernway Community Park. A portion of the Fernway School property, Permanent Parcel No. 736-09-106, will be transferred to the City of Shaker Heights. The City must own the land in order to receive the grant. If a grant is awarded, the City will lease the property back to the School District to operate, maintain and repair the park grounds and facilities. If a grant is not awarded, the City will transfer the property back to the School District.

Tom Cicarella asked how liability insurance would be handled during the transition. Mr. Feinstein replied that had not yet been agreed. Anthony Moore requested to move the insurance higher in the negotiation priority. Mayor Weiss responded they will address this right away. Sean Malone asked if the Finance Committee would see the final agreement before it went to City Council. Mr. Weiss replied a draft would be circulated to the committee prior to presentation to Council. Mr. Cicarella requested there be a reversion clause in the contract. Mr. Moore asked if this NatureWorks grant had been won by the City previously. Mr. Feinstein replied that it had been awarded in 2013 for the Lake-to-Lakes Trail. The request was approved.

  • Senior Planner Dan Feinstein presented a recommendation to enter into a professional services contract for construction inspection and administration of the Warrensville Center Road Streetscape Improvements project. Primary streetscape construction activities include concrete sidewalks, curbs, asphalt pavement, ADA ramp installation, pedestrian lighting, landscaping and signage along the east side of Warrensville between Scottsdale and Farnsleigh, and along the north side of Farnsleigh between Warrensville and Thornton Park. The estimated/budgeted cost of professional services is $234,000. Construction is expected to begin in June.

Sean Malone clarified the request was to authorize Greenman Perderson Inc. (GPI) for professional services only, not actual construction. Geri Chaikin clarified approval had to be made before the next Council meeting, she assumed it would be the highest ranked bidder, GPI. Mr. Malone also clarified the professional services alone were $234,000 while the actual construction would be by Perk Company and cost $1,746,035.37. Nancy Moore interjected the map did not illustrate the visual enhancement this would provide along the Warrensville corridor; the whole urban vista would be changed to be almost pastoral. Linda Lalley asked if these illustrations were the ones shown on the sign boards at Christ Church. Mr. Feinstein replied that these signs were some of them. Mr. Malone wished to know how much time this would take. Mr. Feinstein replied work would start in June and likely require all the summer season. Mr. Malone asked if the cost was in the budget. Mr. Feinstein answered that it was. The recommendation was approved. Nancy Moore appended that Dan Feinstein was representing the Planning Department because Director of Planning Joyce Braverman and Principal Planner Ann Klavora were in California accepting the National Planning Achievement Gold Award for Implementation from the American Planning Association for the department’s Van Aken District efforts.

  • Fire Chief Patrick Sweeney presented a recommendation to donate a 2004 Horton Rescue Squad vehicle to University Hospitals Training and Disaster Preparedness Institute for the purpose of supporting their community outreach initiatives. University Hospitals has provided, free of charge for over 25 years, Medical Control direction and instruction which equates to more than $6,000 in annual instructor costs. Additionally, we have benefitted from their generous contributions of a wide variety of innovative medical equipment and supplies which ultimately enhances all aspects of our emergency service delivery system. Approval of this request would allow the city to transfer title of this vehicle to University Hospitals.

Anthony Moore asked if this was a simple title transfer. Chief Sweeney replied it would require a legal transfer to relieve the liability. Mr. Moore asked if it would have any tax benefit. Mayor Weiss replied that government bodies did not receive tax benefits. Tom Cicarella requested that Shaker Heights name be removed from the vehicle. Mr. Sweeney replied that UH would relabel the vehicle. The recommendation was approved.

  • Fire Chief Patrick Sweeney presented a recommendation to donate a 1991 Ladder Truck to the Western Reserve Fire Museum and Education Center for the purpose of promoting fire safety education to the broader community in Northeast Ohio. This truck has been on loan with the museum over the last 12 months. The City has pursued the potential sale of this vehicle during this same period of time; unfortunately, the department has received no interest for the purchase of this truck. This is most probably due to its age and the wear and tear it has sustained over its many years of service in Northeast Ohio. Approval of this request would allow the city to transfer title of this truck to the Museum, which would completely remove the city from any liabilities associated with this truck.

Linda Lalley inquired what would be done with the vehicle if it were not donated. Chief Sweeney replied the vehicle would probably be sold for scrap, which is a last resort. Sean Malone asked to get a legal opinion on retaining the Shaker Heights name on the vehicle. Mr. Sweeney replied it was common for museums to leave the municipality names on vehicles. Anthony Moore requested a legal liability indemnification clause be written into the donation contract. The recommendation was approved.

  • Director of Finance Robert Baker presented a request to recommend the adoption of the ordinance authorizing the issuance and sale of the Street Improvement Notes, Series 2019 in the principal amount of $1,600,000. The Notes are rolled over each year, and at maturity of the notes each year, 10% of the original principal amount will be retired so that entire issue will be retired in ten years.

Linda Lalley wished to learn what was budgeted for streets. Mr. Baker replied that the budget was $2M each year. Sean Malone asked if the extra tax on gas will help pay off this year. Mr. Baker replied it would not. Tom Cicarella asked if there was a market for two year versus one year notes for these expenditures, curious if we could save money. Mr. Baker replied he had not studied the market but as one extends the duration of loans the interest rate goes up; additionally, longer durations required underwriters to handle bidding, which also increased the cost. Jeri Chaikin inquired if our bond rating agencies helped find the lowest rate for our bonds and notes. Mr. Baker replied that they do, as a part of Ohio Municipal Advisory Council. Nancy Moore commented that this reminded us of the importance of a maintaining a healthy cash reserve to support our high credit rating, which reduced our cost to borrow. Mr. Malone commented that a review of the cash reserve would be part of the Finance Committee meeting next month. The request was approved.

  • Mr. Baker presented a request to amend the 2019 budget for the Debt Service Fund, the General Fund, and the Housing Nuisance Abatement Fund. Certain items may require changes or corrections in order to provide adequate appropriations for all expected fund expenditures as the city implements its yearly budget.

Ms. Lalley asked if the money for demolitions is in the Housing Nuisance Abatement Fund. Mr. Baker replied that it was and Mr. Hanson added that the city had applied to the county for $400,000 for abatement, but that the money had not yet been appropriated by the county. Ms. Moore volunteered that the Northeast Ohio First Suburbs Consortium had, beginning after the 2008 recession, supported nuisance abatement as a use of their bond funding; but recently, as the housing market has recovered, the consortium changed its emphasis to rehabilitation rather than demolition. Mr. Hanson said he expected this current round of county appropriations to be the last to support demolitions; future appropriations would probably only support rehabilitation. Mr. Malone asked how the city would support demolitions in the future. Mr. Hanson answered that he anticipated fewer demolitions in the future, but the $400,000 would be the last help from the county. Mr. Cicarella has served on the Habitat for Humanity Board and commented that Habitat has tracked the cost of rehab versus new construction and found rehab to be more cost-effective: he asked if the city wished to work with Habitat for Humanity, assuming a building can be made habitable. Ms. Moore agreed and offered that there are other government agencies that grant money for rehabilitation. Ms. Chaikin added that there are preapproved renovators who can rehab foreclosed housing stock, but that they are rarely interested in two-family properties. Mr. Hanson said the housing department had talked to Habitat for Humanity and learned from them that if private property owners cannot be located, then Habitat cannot participate. Mr. Moore asked what happened if the money is not used. Mr. Hanson replied it was returned to the county. Mr. Moore said the city needs to determine a source for future demolition funding. Mr. Kolb asked if the city would have to transfer money from other city funds for demolition. Ms. Moore replied that there is no other money for demolition. Mayor Weiss summarized that the change in the county philosophy from demolition to rehabilitation was to serve the needs and desires of the larger county; and that the policy is driven by the tax revenue generated by rehabilitation versus the tax loss of a demolition. The request was approved.

  • Director of Finance Robert Baker presented a request to recommend to Council that the Then and Now Certificate presented for 11 Medical Mutual of Ohio late invoices and their related payment, covering $892,144.33 insurance costs for the first quarter of 2019, be approved. The request was approved.

Mr. Malone adjourned the meeting at 8:43 am.

Frank Goforth, League observer

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