Observer Reports

Finance Committee, June 2018

July 3rd, 2018  |  Published in Observer Reports

Finance Committee

June 18, 2018

Members Present: Committee members: Sean Malone (chair), Nancy Moore, Earl Williams, and Robert Zimmerman; Citizen members: Thomas Cicarella, Martin Kolb, Linda Lalley and Anthony Moore.

Others present: Mayor David Weiss, Chief Administrative Officer Jeri Chaikin, Director of Public Works Patricia Speese, Director of Finance Robert Baker, Assistant Finance Director Cheryl Arslanian, Planning Director Joyce Braverman, Principal Planner Ann Klavora, Human Resources Manager Sandra Middleton, Senior Human Resources Analyst Monika Hayes, Director of Building & Housing Kyle Krewson

The meeting was called to order by Mr. Malone at 7:35 a.m.

Agenda—Committee actions:

  1. Sean Malone presented the minutes of the May 21, 2018 Finance Committee meeting for approval. Marty Kolb moved to approve the minutes, Nancy Moore seconded and the minutes were approved.


  1. Chief Administrative Officer Jeri Chaikin presented a recommendation the city enter into a grant agreement for the Energized Community Grant Program for 2018 to NOPEC and a grant application in the amount of $60,445 toward the replacement of the boiler at the Police/Court Building. NOPEC’s Energized Community Grant Program provides funds to help member communities implement energy savings or energy infrastructure measures. Based on the rate of $8 per enrolled account for electricity, Shaker will receive $60,445 for 2018 from this program. This recommendation was approved by the Safety and Public Works Committee at their June 1, 2018 meeting.


Sean Malone commented that NOPEC had presented twice recently to council and were very cooperative with Shaker. Nancy Moore commented that council members wanted the administration to do all we could to publicize these savings opportunities to residents. Sean Malone added that NOPEC would provide the promotional materials. Linda Lalley asked if the $60,445 was one year or multiple years. Jeri clarified the city would receive $60,445 each year for three years. Nancy Moore moved to approve the recommendation, Marty Kolb seconded the motion and the motion was approved.


  1. Director of Public Works Patricia Speese presented her request to apply for and accept the NEORSD Member Community Infrastructure Program as a 50/50 grant in the amount of $850,000 for the Huntington Sanitary Sewer Overflow Mitigation project. The city’s share would be $425.000. As part of the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District’s (NEORSD) Sanitary Sewer Evaluation Study (SSES), Shaker Height’s sanitary sewer overflows (SSO’s) were investigated. Various field data was collected and hydraulic modeling was performed by the District’s consultants. Based on this information, NEORSD met with Public Works in early May to discuss the potential of mitigating the activation of the SSO located at Huntington and Southington Roads.


Earl Williams asked if this work was included in the 10 year capital plan. Ms. Speese replied there are placeholders for SSO work in the plan and they are expensed as requirements and opportunities arise. Marty Kolb wished to know the total sewer repair liability for 10 years and Ms. Speese replied the total was $30 million spread over 10 years. Sean Malone remarked that this amount had been summarized at the last city council retreat. Mr. Kolb requested the committee should understand the whole liability. Mr. Malone replied this should be a special topic for detailed discussion of the whole budget at the July finance committee meeting. He then asked if this request is within the ‘set aside’ for 2018. Ms. Speese replied that it was and that this particular project was prioritized because it could be done coincident with paving of Huntington, thus saving money in the future. Rob Zimmerman commented there are many unfunded activities and this was prioritized due to the opportunity, it is a small part of a larger problem. We do not want to be find ourselves under an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) consent decree, like Cleveland Heights with 30 SSO issues. Shaker has only 7 SSO. The benefit of timing is important.  David Weiss added we have a couple of million dollars each year for sewer capital expense, having moved year end excess operating budget funds to the sewer capital fund the past couple of years. Leveraging grants to reduce cost 50% was prudent. Mr. Kolb expressed shock the liability was $30 million.  Ms. Speese remarked this detailed knowledge has been developed in the past year as part of the NEORSD  Doan Valley Tunnel Project along Doan Brook, the Van Aken sewer previously ran 80% capacity on dry days, with the tunnel it is now 20%. Mr. Kolb remarked that the hard discussions of this sewer liability were needed now. Anthony Moore asked what contingency was available if we did not receive the grant. Ms. Speese replied that spot repairs were the alternative. Mr. Moore asked if that were the best plan. Linda Lalley asked Ms. Speese to expand on the NEORSD program for the benefit of all committee members. Ms. Speese explained the NEORSD Member Community Infrastructure Program was new, in its second year, and budgeted at $10M with $7M set aside for 2018. We would have a very good chance at some funding with a 50% sharing proposal, our relations with NEORSD are good. Ms. Lalley asked if Shaker would go to the bottom of next year’s stack of proposals if we won in 2018. Ms. Speese replied each grant winner was independently determined regardless of previous wins. Mr. Moore asked if a higher percent match would improve chances. Ms. Speese replied it probably was not needed. She continued that relining sewers added 50 years to the life of a sewer. Mr. Zimmerman asked if the 10 year plan was outdated. Ms. Speese answered it was not and public works had more detailed specific knowledge to share. Tom Cicarella asked for summaries of the sewer capital plan as background for next committee meeting and then asked if there were any risks of Shaker being issued EPA consent decrees. Ms. Speese replied that the EPA had informed Shaker three years ago we were next on the list of cities to be evaluated for SSO issues. The work being done is proactive toward EPA requirements. She added that residents believe the sewers are undersized, but they are not, there is too much infiltration at joints from the adjacent storm sewers and new technology liners prevent this. Marty Kolb moved to approve the request, Nancy Moore seconded the motion and the motion was approved.


  1. Principal Planner Ann Klavora presented a request to authorize a grant application to, and to accept a grant from, the Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development (BUILD) Transportation Discretionary Grant program of the federal Department of Transportation. Grant funds will be used to design a new intermodal transit station for the RTA Blue Line and prepare detailed environmental documents and engineering plans. This project will implement the Phase 2 recommendation of the Warrensville/Van Aken Station Area Plan adopted by City Council in June 2015. The grant would be $1M from the DOT, and commit the required 20% match ($250,000) to be allocated from the City’s General Capital Fund (specific source to be determined).


Earl Williams commented it seems the RTA would be a partner in this application and asked if the RTA does not commit to funding, will this project succeed. Ms. Klavora responded RTA commitment was required for this application. The total project cost is estimated at $14M and RTA is applying for other grants, indeed, Shaker may be competing against RTA for this grant, which is only for design work. Mayor Weiss commented RTA has lost significant funding recently, $55M or more, while their costs exceed revenue. He was in Washington DC a week or so ago and learned the bid materials are late being delivered and this will make the bid window tight. Sean Malone expressed his frustration that this property is owned by the RTA, yet the city funds improvements, can we get a commitment from RTA? Ms. Braverman answered the planning office is adding a commitment clause. Mr. Williams asked if the city has previously committed funds to improvements to the station. Ms. Braverman replied the city funded the busways at the present station. Nancy Moore moved to approve the request, Ms. Lalley seconded the motion and the motion was approved.


  1. Director of Planning Joyce Braverman presented recommendation to award the contract for the City Hall Space Study and Plan to Weber Murphy Fox for a total cost of $31,280 for Phase 1 and 8% of construction costs for Phase 2 (in addition to the $8,000 for move management and FFE). The project aims to co-locate the Building and Housing Inspection Department by re-organizing department locations and functionality within City Hall. This project was expanded from the original RFP to explore the potential of renovating the adjoined Firehouse, in addition to the vacant Health Department basement space. The project will include two phases: Phase 1: Concepts for design and use of each space and related cost estimates. Phase 2: Detailed drawings, construction bid set, and updated cost estimate for the chosen option including construction services. The project is funded by 2018 Capital Budget funds. The current project budget is $200,000 for design and construction.


Rob Zimmerman wished to clarify if Weber Murphy Fox was a design firm or design and construction firm. Ms. Braverman responded that, yes, they were a design and construction firm with experience with older buildings, which provided the city with more confidence in their ability to meet the bid. Tom Cicarella commented he had no doubts the two finalists were both good firms but concerned about approving Phase 1 & 2 together, he asked we get an exit clause after Phase 1. Ms. Braverman confirmed they will write exit terms into the contract. Mr. Cicarella moved to approve the request, Earl Williams seconded the motion and the motion was approved.


  1. CAO Jeri Chaikin summarized the city’s General Liability and Property Insurance coverage for the finance committee. She then asked for volunteers from the committee to join an ad-hoc subcommittee to recommend a consultant to evaluate our current insurance program (cost; adequacy of limits; deductibles and self-insured retentions; etc.) and oversee a Request for Qualifications for agents as well as bids for insurance providers. Ms. Chaikin then introduced Monika Hayes from the Human Resources office, which handles risk management.


Earl Williams was familiar with risk management and volunteered immediately. David Weiss remarked he also understood risk management and asked about Social Security liability for Police and Firefighters. Human Resources Manager Sandra Middleton replied SS liability for police and fire was part of their umbrella policy. Sean Malone wished to know about the timing and scope of this study. Ms. Middleton replied the policy would have to renew on January 1 so a request for proposal would be published by September. Mr. Malone wanted to know how we would hire a broker. Ms. Middleton answered the consultant would identify and contract with the broker. Mr. Malone asked if this would be done by year end. Ms. Middleton recommended this be done in November. Linda Lalley asked if we were satisfied with our present broker. Ms. Middleton answered yes we were; the same broker for the past 20 years. Mr. Malone asked if we wanted one citizen member of the subcommittee with risk experience. Tom Cicarella remarked there were people in his firm with risk experience who can be a member, he would inquire. Rob Zimmerman commented the subcommittee should report back to the finance committee before the city council acts on the recommendation. Mr. Malone concurred and stated it would make sense to refer to this as the risk management subcommittee.


  1. Human Resources (HR) Manager Sandra Middleton, joined by Senior HR Analyst Monika Hayes next presented the six month update to the 2017 Human Resources Action Plan versus actual actions. There was much committee discussion about terminology and reports.


Tom Cicarella asked if HR handled all the required examinations and screening of police and fire personnel. Ms. Middleton confirmed this and that the civil service process was up to 4 months from decision to actual hiring, which explains the continued openings in those departments. Nancy Moore asked if the 2017 increase in claims for employee benefits was low compared to other years. Ms. Hayes replied it was average. Human Resources is responsible for risk management, so the subject was discussed again. Ms. Middleton remarked that training on driving practices yielded a 7.5% decrease in costs from 2016. Anthony Moore asked how some risk items gaining exposure, such as harassment claims, or whistleblower claims, were being managed. He wanted to know if we had an Ombudsman. Ms. Middleton answered we do not have an official ombudsman, but HR personal were trained regarding confidentiality, however, it was a very good question to investigate and recommend action. David Weiss brought up the risk management of non-performing contractors. Ms. Middleton lastly complimented the customer service/ records administration staff who handled 9000 telephone calls last year along with 9500 guests to city hall. They are very personable and have received many compliments from callers and guests.


Sean Malone asked if there was any other new business, there was none. Mr. Malone adjourned the meeting at 9:04 am.



Frank Goforth, observer

Board of Education, June 2018

July 3rd, 2018  |  Published in Observer Reports

Board of Education Observation, June 12, 2018

Public meeting commenced at 5:30 and adjourned at 9:30 pm

Board members in attendance:  William Clawson, Lisa Cremer, Ayesha bell Hardaway, Jeffrey Issacs (Board President), Heather Weingart

Also: Superintendent Dr. Gregory Hutchings Jr., Treasurer Bryan Christman



This observer did not arrive until 6 pm. Prior to arrival the agenda proceeded as follows:

Opening of the meeting with the Pledge of Allegiance; Roll Call; Approval of May Minutes;

Public Communication to the Board; Recognition/Honors of Staff and Students.

  1. As this observer arrived, Ms. Lulling Li from the Equity Task Force was finalizing her report to the Board. Updates about the Equity Task Force can be accessed on the website.
  2. Dr. Hutchings passionately and candidly presented his ‘Years in Review” during his tenure as Superintendent. He is soon to leave the District to become the Superintendent of the Alexandria,VA schools.  He thanked his cabinet and all staff at the Shaker Schools, as well  as expressing specific appreciation for the opportunity given to him to serve as Superintendent. Dr. Hutchings called attention to former Board members, some of whom were in attendance, and who had been on the Board when given his position. He noted that he was fully aware of the opportunity given to him by selecting a young African American who hadn’t had extensive Superintendent experience, following a predecessor who had long held the position.

For much of an hour Dr. Hutchings presented accomplishments during his tenure at Shaker. His comments were prefaced by the comment that he was “hired by the Board to make changes”, stating his belief he leaves the District in a better place than when he arrived. Below are some specifics of his comments.

Strategic Plan 2014-2019:  13 months remain on the current plan.This 5 year current plan was expanded from the previous 2 year plan. It established specific goals and adopted metrics to align with those goals.  It extensively  details action steps addressing the challenges of the District and is used as a guide for all day to day operations. During it’s development many stakeholders in the community had opportunity for  input. Useful and important periodic strategic planning chats are held within the schools among staff to connect identified priorities to what goes on in the classroom.With the continued goal of transparency, the  2019-2024 strategic plan is in it’s planning stages.(See

Development of Innovative Programs:  1.The establishment of the  Innovative Center for Personalized Learning  (“IC”)  provides non-traditional learning experiences for students and staff;  2. FACE,  the Family and Community Engagement Center,  coordinates opportunities for engagement and volunteerism among parents and serves as a liaison between parents and school. 3. The creation of Shaker’s First Class, is a Pre-K program which can be seen as another way to tackle the achievement gap at the nursery school level. 4. Creation of a multi- grade level Summer Enrichment, Learning and Fun (SELF) program.  Previously the summer programs offered were for failing students or students with challenges to prevent summer loss. The SELF program provides a camp style environment with varied choices for all kinds of students. It’s also  an affordable, convenient way for high school students to attain credit recovery. In three years  program attendance has tripled.

Communications:  Dr. Hutchings noted emphasis resulting in much improvement in this area of focus. He feels it has been important  to find a way to “tell our story.”  He cautioned that  communication to the Superintendent should be respectful, and he encourages community members in their future dealings with the new Superintendent to find “proper channels to communicate”  including the courtesy of communicating an issue first with the Superintendent before going to the public. Improvements in district -wide communications include the creation of  “Measuring What Matters” yearly report sent to every household, the Superintendent’s newsletter, a comprehensive website, Board Memos posted on the website and the weekly board packet  posted on the website under BoardDocs. In addition everyone gets a Shaker  app for  i-phones.

Security: There is greater collaboration with SHPD and the SHFD. All entry doors are locked and visitors must be buzzed in by a security person There is enhanced and increased video surveillance. Safety summits are held and safety plans for all schools have been developed. Security officers have received updated training and they are expected to “roll the building.”

High Quality Learning Environment Building on a Legacy of Excellence:

District assessments are now a part of Strategic Metrics. Student achievement has risen and the District is in alignment with Ohio Standards. All schools Pre-K -12 teach the IB curriculum. Former barriers to upper level courses have been removed. Social promotion guidelines have been examined to avoid promotion without proper skills. Dr. Huchings cautioned that this sets up a student for future failure. The district is in compliance with the English Language Learners  and Special Education audits. A Gifted Education Program  complying  with the Ohio Dept. Education requirements is currently being developed.

Organizational Culture:  Dr Hutchings implemented higher standards in hiring practices including the use of a  leadership profile to determine who attains an interview. As an example, potential hires are asked to meet with a panel of interviewers and asked to teach a class as part of the interview process. Vetting protocols have been developed, but  there is a need for continued organizational changes.

Professional Learning: The Department of Professional Learning was established in 2014.

The following practices have been implemented —Executive coaching for Principals,  google training for staff, Instructional coaches, selected among faculty, to assist fellow teaching staff

  1. Dr. Breeden, updated the Board on the development of the Gifted Education program with opportunity for Board members to ask questions. At this point the gifted planning timeline is in Phase I . Dr. Brazer, Stanford professor and educator on leadership and equity has acted as a consultant in the early development of a plan suitable for Shaker students. The District is required by Ohio Department of Education to yearly assess students for identification purposes.  While using instruments in compliance with ODE identification, the remainder of the Shaker plan will be developed according to the aims and needs of the District.  A Workgroup, headed by Mr. Dykema, has been involved in working on drafts of a potential plan. Students will be assessed in the area of core academics, artistic ability and creativity. The Shaker plan states  “an array of identification tools to ensure equitable identification” will be used. Questions and comments  included : what were the implications for students and parents especially through the lens of equity; who, what and when assessments will be administered; differences between the gifted program and enrichment opportunities; possibilities for re-assessment; how advocating for your child will be handled.(See below # 9 for action items to be voted on by the Board.)
  2. Dr. Stephen Wilkins and district architect Dennis Paben reported on the ongoing capital plan and the summer construction projects including the Woodbury, Mercer, Onaway roofing projects, asbestos containment for boilers, work on the Middle School auditorium and outside painting, updating security cameras, phone systems and connecting cameras to monitors. Progress on the pilot classroom projects, looked specifically at lighting components, finishes, acoustics, flexible furniture and room arrangements. Feedback from teachers on the pilot classrooms were sought from teachers.
  3. The Board voted on approving the resolution to abolish/eliminate certain teaching positions. In April possible plans for declining enrollment was discussed by the Board. From 2014 through school 2018, enrollment has declined, losing on average about 100 students per year. Options addressing the issue looked at trend data, class size data and staffing data. The resolution specifies the elimination of 10.8 full time equivalent teachers. The effort has been to keep loss at a minimum by not employing replacements for employees who were retiring, resigning or whose limited contracts will not be renewed. This school year no current employees will be losing jobs.  The Board passed the resolution four votes to one, with Ms.Cremer being the dissenting vote. Prior to the vote there was discussion and clarification from Dr. Breeden. Concerns about class size were voiced by Ms. Cremer due to decreased staff. Assurances were made that class size will be minimally impacted at any grade level.
  4. A number of action items on the public agenda addressing various personnel matters  were approved by unanimous consent. Details can be viewed online through agenda items on BoardDocs.
  5. The Board unanimously accepted the bid for the pilot classroom improvement project from Sterling Professional Group, approved of Total Environmental Services of the High School and Mercer project abatement services and approval of AVI Foodsystems, Inc. to provide food services.
  6. The Board voted unanimously to approve the following action items and resolutions: authorization of the interim superintendent employment contract ( Dr. Stephen M.Wilkins) for the

term July 1, 2018-June 30, 2019; approval of the 3 year negotiated bargaining agreement between the Board of Education and the Ohio Association of Public School Employees  effective through June, 2021; approval of Summer hours-secretarial/clerical Memorandum of Understanding.

  1. The Board voted unanimously to approve the Ohio Dept. of Education (ODE) District Gifted

Identification Plan.

  1. Mr. Christman presented the Treasurer’s monthly report consisting of financial statements and interim investments. The Board voted approval on the following: adoption of the 2018-2019 Temporary Annual Appropriations; the adoption of the Shaker Heights Public Library tax budget;

the resolution authorizing agreements for software and support services with NEOnet Information Technology Center and an end-user agreement for eFinancePlus.

  1. Dr. Hutchings presented his last Superintendent’s report which was brief due to earlier comments. He again thanked a number of people especially his administrative team and the Board for their support. He introduced Mr. David Berger who will serve as Director of

Operations while Stephen Wilkins is interim Superintendent for the upcoming school year.

Commencement was a great success and the effort of SHHS Asst. Principal Sara Chengelis who co-ordinated the event was noted. He commended both William Clawsen, Board member, and Principal Kuehle on their excellent remarks.  At the ceremony Earline Hooper and Mary Lynne McGovern received recognition for pioneering integration of the district. The district raised $17,000 for the annual American Heart Association Campaign.

As the Board seeks a new Superintendent Dr. Hutchings last word of advice was to consider their candidates carefully with the top priority being what is good for all  students in the District.

  1. Ms. Coughlin, executive director of the Shaker Foundation, shared news of the Hutchings Family Fund, initiated by the Hutchings family which will serve as a legacy of Dr. Hutchings’ work and service to the Shaker Heights School District.


Anne Batzell
























City Council Regular Meeting, June 2018

July 3rd, 2018  |  Published in Observer Reports

Shaker Heights City Council
June 25, 2018

The Mayor called the meeting to order at 7:30 p.m. and adjourned at 8:43 p.m.   

Present: Mayor David Weiss, Council members: Sean Malone, Rob Zimmerman, Tres Roeder, Juliana Johnston Senturia, Anne Williams, Nancy Moore, Earl Williams.
Also present:  Chief Administrative Officer Jeri Chaikin; Law Director William M. Ondrey Gruber; Finance Director Robert H. Baker; Director of Public Works Patricia Speese; Director of Planning Joyce Braverman

The minutes of the June 25, 2018 meeting were approved.

Six out of eight items on the agenda were passed declaring an emergency.

Items on the agenda were unanimously approved:

  • Approval of the minute of the May 14th and May 29th meetings. Councilman Zimmerman expressed concern that public comments are not included in meeting minutes, although they are voice recorded.
  • An ordinance was introduced to revise Chapter 163 of Codified Ordinances to comply with the new state law that allows municipalities the ability to “regulate the placement and appearance of small cell technology equipment”, which includes antennae, poles, and equipment boxes. This allows cities to adjust the location of small cell technology equipment to be in areas with heavy traffic, to lessen the load there. The third reading and adoption for this ordinance is expected to be on July 23rd.
  • An ordinance amending sections 141.18 and 141.22 to alter the stipulations of toddler and family pool and ice rink passes. The amendment allows toddlers three years old and younger to gain free admission. This change will cause a loss of about $500 yearly from previous toddler pass revenue, but will appeal to more families.
  • An ordinance authorizing the application for a grant from Northeast Ohio Public Energy Council for $60,445 to go towards the $95,000 replacement of the boiler in the Police/Court Building.
  • An ordinance authorizing a contract with for construction services with Terrace Construction Company, Inc., for $67,000 to remove a portion of the spillway from the Horseshoe Lake Dam to aid the fixing of a sinkhole north of the spillway. With the sinkhole, the dam may be structurally compromised, and if the dam failed, it would cause a loss of life and property. There was originally a bid for the project, except the only bid was over 10% of the estimated cost. The ordinance waives public bidding in this case. $67,000 will be appropriated from the General Fund to finance the contract with Terrace Construction.
  • An ordinance appropriating $67,000 from the General Fund to finance the contract with Terrace Construction to remove part of the spillway from the Horseshoe Lake Dam.
  • An ordinance authorizing the application for a grant from the federal Department of Transportation of up to $1 million to go towards the $1.25 million cost of designing a new intermodal transit station for the RTA Blue Line.
  • An ordinance accepting and authorizing a proposal and a contract with Weber Murphy Fox for $31,280 for Phase 1, and 8% of construction costs for Phase 2, along with $8,000 for moving management, furniture, and fittings for the City Hall Space Study and Plan, which is trying to co-locate the Building and Housing Department by re-organizing department locations and functionality within City Hall, and is expanding to potentially renovate the Firehouse and the vacant Heath Department basement space. Phase 1 is concept design in relation to cost, and Phase 2 is detailed drawings, bidding, and updated cost estimates. The current budget is $200,000. Six proposals and four interviews were received after proposals were requested from eight firms. Weber Murphy Fox was determined to have the best proposal.

-Ryan Brady





Library Board, June 2018

July 3rd, 2018  |  Published in Observer Reports

Meeting of the Shaker Heights Library Board of Trustees, June 17, 2018


Called to order at 6:45pm.

Present: Board members Gleisser, Bertsch, Cicarella, and Williams.

Absent: Mr. Meinhard, Ms. Katz, and Ms. Garrett


Board President Gleisser’s report included information about the 2% extra compensation for library staff, which had been contingent upon passage of the levy on the spring ballot. Motions were made and passed to also apply the additional compensation to the Library Director and Fiscal Officer.


The Fiscal Officer reported that income and expenditures were on target, with income modestly ahead of 2017 receipts year to date.


The Library’s purchasing and petty cash policies were revised to conform to requirements in state law.


Library Director Amy Switzer reported that free printing, up to $1/day, is now available to all cardholders, including children. She noted monthly meetings of library, city, school, and youth center staff take place to encourage collaboration and that “restorative practices” being implemented in the public schools are being adapted, where feasible, for use in the libraries.


She also explained that the state of Ohio has made changes in policies for bonds for capital projects and the lengthening of the bond period and other adjustments would be very favorable and timely for the Library renovation project. The fiscal officer is reworking the budget, income, and bond figures and will report them. It is expected that the Library will be able to avoid returning to the ballot a good deal longer because of the changes. The Director also reported on a panel and conversation about panhandling, and other features of the community engagement effort.


Gifts were accepted and appropriated. Thanks were expressed to Library staff who participated in the Memorial Day parade.


Meeting adjourned at 7:20 pm. There will be no meeting in July.


Board of Education, May 8, 2018

May 30th, 2018  |  Published in Observer Reports

Board of Education
May 8, 2018

Present: Board members William Clawson, Lisa Cremer, Ayesha Bell Hardaway, and Heather Weingart; Superintendent Dr. Gregory Hutchings, Treasurer Bryan Christman
Absent: Board member Jeff Isaacs

The meeting was called to order by Board Vice President William Clawson at 5:30 p.m. The agenda for this meeting can be found here.

The meeting began with recognition of student awards by Shaker Heights High School Principal Jonathan Kuenle and senior student Brian Jones Ford. The regular meeting followed:

  1. The minutes from the April 10 regular board meeting were approved unanimously.
  2. Recognition/Honors of Staff/Students: Ten Chinese language students placed either first, second or third in the Fifth Annual Ohio K-12 Chinese Speech and Essay Contest. The Theatre Arts Department and student performers of Carrie: The Musical were nominated for four Dazzle Awards. The Middle School eighth-grade team finished first and seventh-grade team took second at the PenOhio regional tournament on April 21. Senior Trisha Roy is a recipient of the Eminence Scholarship at The Ohio State University. Senior Daniel Crouse was awarded a National Merit Scholarship sponsored by Rockwell Automation. The Shaker Schools Communications Department received seven awards from the Ohio School Public Relations Association (OHSPRA), the most of any public school district in Ohio. Measuring What Matters was recognized as the top publication of its type in the state and The Shaker Connection was recognized as the top e-newsletter in Ohio. Sixty-two French language students earned recognition on the National French Contest. Northwestern University honored high school journalism teacher Natalie Sekicky with a Distinguished Secondary Teacher Award (DSTA). Ms. Sekicky is one of only five teachers nationwide who will receive the award this year. The SHHS Crew Team rowed their way to three gold, two silver, and one bronze medal at the 54th Hebda Cup Regatta in Wyandotte, Mich. Shaker Crew is one of only two public school crew teams in the state.
  3. Four senior student members presented the Superintendent’s Students Advisory Council Annual Update. Ms. Weingart asked several questions regarding the process used by this advisory council to recruit and choose new members and how student issues were resolved with the superintendent and communicated back to students. The students said the process was still informal. Mr. Clawson wished to learn if the “flex nights” program had been successful; the students felt this program had not reduced study loads. The students agreed to recommend changes for improvement. Ms. Cremer asked a question of the student group: Did they have recommendations regarding equity/discrimination in the school? Ose Arheghan, a member of this student advisory council and Shaker LWV Legacy Fellow, offered an account of discrimination and inequities that occur in hallways during transition between classrooms. She said incidents between students were usually resolved equitably by administrators, but that reports of incidents between students and school employees were not always handled as well. Dr. Hutchings said he was humbled by this honest report. The audience applauded this interchange.
  4. Dr. Hutchings presented his Superintendent’s Report, which included an update of the four options proposed at the April 10 meeting to address declining enrollment (you can see all four options by clicking on the Superintendent’s Report link). The update now includes the reduction of three administrative and two clerical positions in options #3 and #4.  Dr. Hutchings, Assistant Superintendent Terri Breeden, and Treasurer Bryan Christman offered to answer the board’s questions. Ms. Bell Hardaway and Ms. Weingart wondered why the details of positions reduced at each school did not match system-wide totals. Dr. Breeden and Mr. Christman answered questions about enrollment projections and the forecast methodology, which is based on U.S. Department of Education models using data specific to Shaker Heights. Reassignments are forecast between schools in order to match specific needs regarding class size, subject matter, and critical need, which is not apparent in the total number. Mr. Clawson said that the forecast methodology is based on three factors: birth rates, new households, and mobility; new households would be affected more by aging population in Shaker rather than new building, while mobility has been consistent for decades in Shaker. The school administration had tested the model on 10 years of historical data and found only 1 percent to 2 percent error to actual experience, so Shaker is very predictable. Ms. Cremer expressed alarm about the significant increase in class size resulting from the proposed attrition & reductions, specifically the documented correlation of student outcomes and class size. She also expressed the desire to prioritize retention of those who directly impact student outcomes. Dr. Breeden shared that Shaker counts “core teaching staff” for class size calculation, whereas any person with teaching licensure is counted nationally, with the result that Shaker’s ratio is above the national average. Dr. Hutchings stated that the Shaker Heights Teachers Association’s maximum is 25 students/class and that may be approached in the lower grades with the proposed reduction options. However, considering the Shaker student census has decreased about 10 percent  in the past five years, the ratio would fall naturally. He added that he does not want to adopt either of the two options under discussion but felt it necessary to plan from best to worst scenarios. Ms. Cremer asked if the board had to choose an option at this meeting. Dr. Hutchings replied the administration wanted to understand the goals and strategy of the board. Ms. Bell Hardaway supported Ms. Cremer’s goal of prioritizing student outcomes for any plan. Mr. Clawson asked the board to voice a preference of options in order to move forward and stated that option #3 presented a balanced approach dependent on the details of implementation. Ms. Cremer preferred option #1 or #2, Ms. Weingart and Ms. Bell Hardaway would support option #3 with emphasis on strategic attrition and requested details of this plan be developed.
  5. Mr. Clawson then opened the meeting for public comment and set some expectations and limits for comment; 13 audience members raised their hands to be included. Seven of the thirteen speakers–students, parents, and alumni–spoke in support of the theater department at the high school, which would be disproportionately impacted by the options for staff attrition/reduction. Three speakers were employees of the schools and voiced their concerns regarding the negative effect of the options on student outcomes. One parent spoke in support of the choir program. One student criticized the online health course. And one person introduced herself as a candidate for superintendent.
  6. An update on the Equity Task Force followed. (It was established in June 2017 and is part of the ongoing five-year Strategic Plan to remove barriers to help all students achieve at a higher level.) Two sessions were held this past month with 60 attendees, and a four-part series is planned with 44 participants. Ms. Cremer attended April 23, Ms. Bell Hardaway hosted May 6, and Ms. Weingart is one of the applicants.
  7. The updated Gifted Policy status was given by Dr. Breeden. The new policy is on second reading.
  8. The majority of the items for approval on the published agenda involved action on personnel matters, such as new appointments, changes in assignments, temporary employees, special assignments, and resignations, all of which were approved and are listed in detail on the published agenda. Six staff members were recommended for continuing contract status (tenure).
  9. The Capital Projects Updates were presented by Dr. Stephen Wilkins. Two bids for fire alarm updates and ADA improvements at the high school were rejected, with new bids requested, and one bid for Boulevard Elementary School facility improvements will also be rebid. The following projects were unanimously approved by the board: Mercer interior renovations of classroom space, Mercer exterior waterline replacement, Middle School exterior painting and soffit repairs, Boulevard and high school slate roof repairs and security upgrades, and district-wide Building Automation Systems (BAS) controls.
  10. The Board unanimously approved the resolution to formally appoint Dr. Stephen Wilkins as the interim superintendent for the District.
  11. Revision of board policies: first reading of an updated policy on Nondiscrimination, Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Sex/Sexual Harassment, Emergency Management and Safety Plans, Drug Testing for District Personnel Required to Hold a Commercial Driver’s License, Evaluation of Certified Staff (administrators both Certified and Classified), Admission of Homeless Students, Homeless Students, Student Absences and Excuses, Hazing and Bullying (Harassment, Intimidation, and Dating Violence) and second required reading of an updated policy on Programs for Students Who Are Gifted. There were no third readings requiring approval.
  12. Mr. Christman presented monthly financial and budget reports and highlighted what is happening as far as the state budget and Shaker funding (details of each financial report are included as exhibits to the published agenda available online). The expenditure activity for the month and for the fiscal year-to-date April 2018 was $5.1 million, or 6.8% more than the prior year amount, partially due to approximately $2 million of payments related to the Middle School roof and cafeteria ceiling projects. Expenditures were $2.3 million or 2.9% more than budget fiscal year-to-date, but $2,000 below budget as projected through fiscal year-end ($2.098 million unfavorable variance for cash expenditures offset by the projected favorable $2.1 million reduction in encumbrances). In summary, the district’s overall finances are on target with expectations at this time. The report was unanimously approved.
  13. At the recommendation of Mr. Christman and the district’s Finance & Audit Committee (which reviewed and reached consensus on the forecast on April 26, 2018), the board must direct the treasurer to file a copy of its Five-Year Financial Forecast with the Ohio Department of Education each year. The recommendation was unanimously approved.
  14. Dr. Hutchings presented the Superintendent’s Report for the board.
  15. Mr. Clawson moved that due to the length of the meeting and the late hour, that the board members’ reports could wait until the next meeting, scheduled June 12, 2018. The motion was unanimously approved.

The meeting adjourned at 9:22 p.m.
Frank Goforth

Zoning Board of Appeals, May 7, 2018

May 30th, 2018  |  Published in Observer Reports

Board of Zoning Appeals
May 7, 2018

Present: Mayor David Weiss, chair; Councilman Rob Zimmerman; citizen members John Boyle and Kevin Dreyfuss-Wells
Others Present: Joyce Braverman, Director of Planning; Dan Feinstein, Senior Planner; William Gruber, Director of Law

Mayor Weiss called the meeting to order at 7:30 pm. The agenda for this meeting and supporting documents may be found here.

The minutes of the April 2018 meeting were approved.


Bialosky Cleveland, representing RMS Investments, asked for a variance to the service area of the C-4 Market Hall building. A variance was previously granted for the service area to be located on Warrensville Center Road. The applicant would like to modify the service area layout for a larger trash compactor area, which requires a larger, angled entry and gate to accommodate the truck pickup of the compactor. An 8-foot wall that matches the brick wall and gate will hide the compactor, and landscaping will soften the view of the wall. There will be three parking spaces on Warrensville that will block the gate, so traffic will need to be managed on pickup days.

The Bialosky representatives explained that the original variance plan was to roll smaller compacters into the area for pick-up. After talking to refuse services, they’ve found that this plan would require three to nine pickups per week, which is inefficient. The variance will allow there to be one larger compacter that would need to be picked up every two weeks, causing less disruption to traffic and less noise.

Ms. Braverman asked if the parking spaces will be striped. Bialosky confirmed that they would be. Mr. Dreyfuss-Wells asked how they would control use of the parking spaces on pickup days. Bialosky suggested they could off be closed. Ms. Braverman suggested they be blocked with traffic cones.

Mr. Dreyfuss-Wells asked if there would be a problem with having the refuse picked up only every two weeks. Bialosky said no.

Mr. Weiss asked why the gate was recessed from the street. Bialosky noted that it needed to be past the overhead power lines so the trash haulers could safely work.

Mr Dreyfus-Wells asked if the sidewalk would be differentiated from the driveway surface, giving a visual cue to pedestrians. Bialosky responded that the two surfaces would be differently textured. Mr. Dreyfuss-Wells asked if they could be different colors, for greater differentiation. Bialosky responded that they could.

Ms. Braverman asked if the new service area design would degrade the view for people sitting on the nearby patio. Bialosky responded that the 8-foot wall improves the patio sightlines and will have landscaping and planters to further soften the view.

The discussion was opened to public comment. There was none.

Mr. Dreyfuss-Wells made a motion to approve the requested variance with the addition of using colors to differentiate the service area driveway and sidewalk. It was unanimously approved.

The next meeting will be June 4.
Lynn Lilly


Library Board of Trustees, May 21, 2018

May 30th, 2018  |  Published in Observer Reports

Library Board of Trustees
May 21, 2018

Present: Michael Bertsch, Melissa Garrett, Doreen Katz, Troy Meinhard, Carmella Williams; Library Director Amy Switzer
Absent: Brian Gleisser, Tom Cicarella

Mr. Bertsch, presiding, called the meeting to order at 6:36 p.m. and expressed thanks to all who supported approval of the levy measure on the May ballot, including library staff.

After approval of minutes from the previous meeting, community comments were invited. Shaker resident (and LWV member) Frank Goforth expressed concerns, arising from the comprehensive study made by the League to consider support of the levy, about a projected budget shortfall by 2025. Mr. Bertsch acknowledged the statement and said the board would craft a written response to those concerns, and noted the past and continuing commitment of the board to fiscally responsible action.

John Carlson, maintenance manager, gave a presentation on activities and responsibilities of the maintenance staff, which include both interior and exterior tasks, maintenance of carts, production of signage, and transportation of library materials, among other activities.

Ms. Katz spoke about her experience with the Shaker Heights school district’s strategic planning committee and suggested that, in light of the sometimes contentious nature of the levy campaign and the close election, a series of listening sessions may be valuable for the Library. Board members discussed the possibilities and reflected on some issues raised during the campaign. Ms. Katz was encouraged to seek collaborative opportunities with school and city entities to further the conversation, and to build a framework for such discussions.

The fiscal officer reported that income and expenditures were on track. An alternative tax budget (a yearly requirement) was approved.

Ms. Switzer noted several library activities, including the summer reading program, which is for adults as well as children. A number of revised policies were introduced, explained, and approved. The policies concerned fees for meeting rooms, record retention, community bulletin boards, gifts and donations, hours of service, recruitment and volunteers, and special services for cardholders.

After approval of acceptance of gifts and their allocation, the board went into executive session at 7:48 p.m.
Kathleen Hickman

City Council, May 29, 2018

May 30th, 2018  |  Published in Observer Reports

City Council
May 29, 2018

Members Present: Sean Malone, Nancy Moore, Tres Roeder, Julianna Senturia, Anne Williams, Earl Williams, and Robert Zimmerman
Others present: Mayor David Weiss, Chief Administrative Officer Jeri Chaikin, Director of Information Technology Frank Miozzi, Director of Public Works Patricia Speese, Finance Director Robert Baker, Law Director William Gruber.

The meeting was called to order by Mayor Weiss at 7:30 p.m.

Agenda—Council actions:

  1. Mr. Baker asked for approval of the the 2019 Tax Budget. This is a routine annual request that’s required so that the city can collect its share of property taxes from the county. His summary included a detailed explanation of “inside millage” (10 unvoted mills allowed across local government entities) and “charter millage” (millage voted on and included in the city’s charter). The city’s share of “inside millage” is 4.4 mills. The county can claim any surplus the city does not use from the 4.4 mills, so the city always plans to spend all it’s allowed so that it doesn’t have to give back any revenue. Mr. Malone added that the finance committee had approved the budget. Council approved the budget.
  2. Mayor Weiss presented the minutes of the April 9, 2018, council special meeting and the April 23, 2018, council regular meeting for approval. There were no questions or discussion and the minutes were approved. Mayor Weiss then asked if there were any residents present who wished to comment on the 2019 budget or minutes. There were none.
  3. Mr. Miozzi presented a request recommending the city enter into an agreement with Charter Communications for maintenance of the I-Net fiber network for a period of five years (2018-2023) at a total cost of $75,400. Funds are provided in the Information Technology operating budget. The fiber network provides remote city buildings with access to the city’s shared telecommunications and computer resources. The city, schools, and library originally contracted with Adelphia in 2000 to build out the fiber network within the city. Then in 2012 Ohio allowed suppliers to charge for connection services and the city, schools, and library contracted separately. This item was discussed at the May 4 combined committee meeting of the Building, Housing and Technology Committee and Safety & Public Works Committee. These committees expressed appreciation of the effort to collaborate with the library and schools. Both committees unanimously voted to support the recommendation to continue the service with Charter Communications. INET fiber maintenance was reviewed by the Finance Committee on May 21. There was a discussion about the history of the service and a request to look into the possibility of simply having Charter offset the fee from its franchise payments. Mr. Zimmerman commented that five years seemed a long commitment; he wished to understand why and if there was a cancellation clause. Mr. Miozzi said the fiber network has been used for the past 17 years, and the contract was put in place for the next five years because it was a lower cost than for one year. He expects it to last for 30 or more years, and said that the contract is less expensive than other options might be with shorter contracts. He would like to lock in even longer contracts. Ms. Senturia commented she appreciated Mr. Miozzi’s explanation and how he had worked with the schools and library to find least-cost options. The contract was approved as an emergency to put in place a contract before the July renewal deadline.
  4. Ms. Speese presented a request for approval to renew the triennial Tree Assessment at the current rate of $1.16 per front foot. The current triennial tree assessment for the maintenance of trees in the city’s rights-of-way expires at the end of 2018. This assessment funds the city’s forestry program, including planting, maintenance, and removal of trees. The assessment of $1.16 per front foot is levied against all properties in the city with the exception of property owned by the city and the school district. While this request did not go to the Safety & Public Works Committee due to timing, it was presented to the Tree Advisory Board on May 16. The Tree Advisory Board wholeheartedly supported this request. It is expected to generate $740,000 per year, will maintain current service levels, and will focus on eradicating the Asian Longhorn Beetle that is damaging trees. This request was also approved by the Finance & Administration Committee on May 21. Mr. Malone commented that this was sufficient for tree maintenance but did not account for maintaining the capital equipment used for the service. This should also be budgeted and separately brought before council, he said. The tree assessment was approved.
  5. Mr. Baker requested approval of several 2018 budget amendments for passage on first reading as emergencies. As the city implements its yearly budget, certain items may require changes or corrections in order to provide adequate appropriations for all expected expenditures. Finance is requesting to amend the 2018 budget for two debt service funds, the Economic Development Fund, the CCSE (Contract Charges and Statutory Expense) Fund, and one Special Revenue Fund. Mr. Baker summarized the changes required. All department expenses fall into two categories, either personal service or “other.” Directors can move funds within these categories without amendments, but not between categories. This was approved by the Finance and Administration Committee on May 21. The amendments were approved.
  6. Mr. Baker presented his request to authorize “Then and Now” certificates for payments of various transactions, which he summarized. This item was also approved by the Finance and Administration Committee on May 21. The payments were approved.

Mayor Weiss adjourned the meeting at 8:08 pm.
Frank Goforth and Ryan Brady

Finance Committee, May 21, 2018

May 30th, 2018  |  Published in Observer Reports

Finance Committee
May 21, 2018

Members Present: Council members Sean Malone (chair), Nancy Moore, Earl Williams, and Robert Zimmerman; citizen members Thomas Cicarella, Martin Kolb, Linda Lalley, and Anthony Moore.
Others present: Mayor David Weiss (by telephone conference), Chief Administrative Officer Jeri Chaikin, Director of Information Technology Frank Miozzi, Director of Recreation Alexandria Nichols, Director of Public Works Patricia Speese, Director of Finance Robert Baker, Assistant Finance Director Cheryl Arslanian

The meeting was called to order by Mr. Malone at 7:30 a.m.

Agenda—Committee actions:

  1. Mr. Malone presented the minutes of the April 16, 2018, meeting for approval. The minutes were approved.
  2. Mr. Miozzi recommended that the city enter into an agreement with Charter Communications Operating LLC for maintenance of the I-Net fiber network for a period of five years (2018-2023) at a total cost of $75,400. Funds are provided in the Information Technology operating budget. The fiber network is essential to the city’s operations, he said, providing remote city buildings with access to the city’s shared telecommunications and computer resources. Mr. Malone wished to know the history of the city’s fiber network. Mr. Miozzi said that the city, schools, and library originally contracted with Adelphia to build out the fiber network in 2000 (within the city, not connecting outside). Then in 2012 Ohio allowed suppliers to charge for connection services—and the city, schools, and library contracted separately. Mr. Kolb asked what the $275,000 franchise fee was for. Mr. Miozzi explained that suppliers pay a franchise fee to the city each year. Ms. Chaikin interjected the fee is regulated by Ohio. Mr. Miozzi continued that the supplier provides other services beyond the fiber cable maintenance. Ms. Lalley remarked that the collaboration between the city, schools, and library was commendable and inquired if a broader collaboration would be beneficial. Mr. Miozzi said the original 2000 study considered a broader collaboration and they would revisit that idea. Mr. Cicarella asked if the city could deduct the $75,000 contract fee from the $275,000 franchise payment, in case the supplier performance did not meet expectations. Ms. Chaikin said the city law director would need to approve. Mr. Malone wished to know the physical location of the fiber—was it buried? Mr. Miozzi said the physical fiber-optic cable is mounted above-ground on poles along main streets. Mr. Malone next asked him to explain the difference of “dark” versus “lit” fiber. Mr. Miozzi explained that dark fiber is the physical cable. A lit network includes the power and electronic switches necessary to provide services on the cable. The city has this equipment, allowing the choice of services and speed for various city functions; the contract is for maintaining this equipment. Mr. Miozzi said the city would prefer longer contracts, because fiber-optic cable will be the choice for many decades. Mr. Williams wished to know how wireless would impact the use of fiber cables. Mr. Miozzi answered that external fiber-optic cables will support faster wireless inside buildings and more wireless would come to the city as computers are upgraded. Mr. Malone wanted to know the expense to maintain dark fiber. Mr. Miozzi replied that squirrels are the worst pests because they chew through cables, but cables do degrade due to weather. The request was approved unanimously.
  3. Ms. Nichols would like the committee to recommend that City Council change ordinances that relate to the age ranges for rink fees and pool passes. The age ranges for the two facilities do not align, and Ms. Nichols said she does not know why. Mr. Cicarella wondered if there was any basis to expand the younger age bracket in order to get people involved earlier and for longer. Mr. Zimmerman asked if this change would have a physical impact on facilities. Ms. Nichols answered that it would not. The request was approved unanimously.
  4. Ms. Speese asked for approval to renew the triennial Tree Assessment at the current rate of $1.16 per front foot. The current assessment expires at the end of 2018. This assessment funds the city’s forestry program, including planting, maintenance, and removal of trees in the city’s rights-of-way. The assessment of $1.16 per front foot is levied against all properties in the city with the exception of property owned by the city and schools. Mr. Williams asked if this charge included resident’s requests for tree choices. Ms. Speese replied that residents can choose different species and sizes of trees for fees ranging from $200 to $1,000. She also shared that the city has a new forester this year, with a degree in forestry, and he was enforcing the contractors to properly care for trees and tree lawns when working nearby, particularly being careful with root systems. Mr. Malone asked if this charge was sufficient. Ms. Speese replied that it was sufficient for normal maintenance, but that 50-year blights and infestations, such as happened with ash borers, cannot be planned and that equipment was not part of this request. Ms. Moore commented that monocultures were commonly used in the past and the city had an abundance of vulnerable maples. Ms. Speese remarked the new forester was aggressively pursuing insurance claims after accidents damaged trees. Mr. Malone asked if there was an inventory of city trees. Ms. Speese said there is a complete inventory by street and we have a great variety now. Ms. Lalley asked if there were federal restrictions on what could be done and by whom. Ms. Speese replied the city was free to maintain trees in-house or under contract. Mr. Kolb asked if some disease infected our trees during the next three years, would the city be stuck with the cost. Mr. Baker replied the city could not increase the assessment. Mr. Malone remarked that this worst case would require the city to use general funds to treat the trees. The request was approved unanimously.
  5. Mr. Baker next summarized the 2019 Tax Budget. His summary included a detailed explanation of “inside millage” (10 mills allowed across government entities) and “charter millage” (millage voted on and included in the city’s charter). The city’s share of “inside millage” is 4.4 mills. The county can claim any surplus the city does not use from the 4.4 mills, so the city always plans to spend all it receives so that it doesn’t have to give back any revenue. Ms. Moore voiced appreciation for the detailed explanation. Mr. Baker added the state had recently changed the laws for rural and urban counties. The budget was approved unanimously.
  6. Mr. Baker requested approval of several 2018 budget amendments and asked the committee to recommend them to City Council for passage on first reading as emergencies. As the city implements its yearly budget, certain items may require changes or corrections in order to provide adequate appropriations for all expected expenditures. Finance is requesting to amend the 2018 budget for two debt service funds, the Economic Development Fund and one Special Revenue Fund. Director Baker summarized the changes required. All department expenses fall into two categories, either personal service or “other,” and directors can move funds within these categories without amendments—but can’t move funds between categories. Mr. Moore asked if funds can move from one personal line to another. Mr. Baker confirmed they can, as long as the total personal budget stays the same. Mr. Moore next asked if the debt service notes had already been sold. Mr. Baker confirmed they had been sold last week. Mr. Moore then asked if this change would have any effect on the closing sale of notes. Mr. Baker advised that if the changes were not made, then the notes sold would technically be in default and have to be reissued at higher interest rates. Mr. Williams asked if the notes were sold to local banks. Mr. Baker confirmed. The amendments were approved unanimously.
  7. Mr. Baker requested authorization of “Then and Now” payments for various transactions. They were approved.
  8. Mr. Baker presented the 2018 First Quarter Budget Update through March 31. Both the real estate and income tax receipts were higher than in 2017, likely due to federal tax law changes. He said he would keep everyone informed as the year progresses. However, for all other revenue lines, the city is collecting less than in 2017. Ms. Lalley wished to know if Mr. Baker had anticipated this. Mr. Baker said he had not, but the Van Aken delays are contributing. Mr. Malone wished to know what might happen if the municipal court transferred to the county. Mr. Baker did not know for sure; however, the municipal court is prohibited by the state from making more money than it costs. The court cannot raise fees above their costs, so there is no upside for the city, but the court has supported itself for many years and is convenient. Mr. Baker continued: all departments’ expenses are within bounds. Ms. Lalley asked if the city were satisfied with the service it receives from RITA. Mr. Baker said he has no control over what we learn from RITA. The city does have input to RITA in regards to subpoenas issued by RITA against delinquent taxpayers. The city wants to pursue every one. Additionally, individual taxpayers who file estimated taxes, mainly those self-employed, introduce big spikes in revenue. RITA does provide the city a list of “top 10” taxpayers, which is always a surprise as their income is episodic.

Mr. Malone adjourned the meeting at 8:58 a.m.
Frank Goforth

City Council Work Session, April 9, 2018

May 1st, 2018  |  Published in Observer Reports

City Council Work Session
April 9, 2018

Present: Interim Mayor Anne Williams; Council members  Sean Malone, Nancy Moore, Tres Roeder, Julianna Senturia, Earl Williams, and Rob Zimmerman; CAO Jeri Chaikin; and Law Director William Gruber

Ms. Williams called the meeting to order at 7 p.m.

First item on the agenda was a public hearing for amendments to the zoning ordinances for the creation of a small lot infill development overlay district, revised sign design standards, and text revision regarding Landmark Commission process.

The City Planning Commission makes recommendations to Council regarding amendments to the zoning ordinance.  Three readings and a public hearing at City Council are required.  This was the second reading and the required public hearing.

Planning Department Director Joyce Braverman introduced the zoning text amendments and asked city staff member Kamla Lewis and Kris Hopkins of CT Consultants to present detailed information.

First, a Small Lot Infill Development (SLID) overlay district is proposed. The district will allow for creative infill housing on small vacant lots in the north and south Moreland neighborhoods. The new district, designed to ensure infill housing that is compatible with the existing neighborhood, is exclusively for the existing two-family zoning district in the north and south Moreland neighborhoods.

Ms. Lewis noted that there are 100 city-owned lots available for development.

Second, sign design standards are proposed to be added to the CM Commercial Mixed Use zoning district design standards and principles section. These changes provide sign standards to raise the design to the same level as the design standards already integral to this zoning district.  Currently there are high standards for building design but no guidance for signs and no coordination with the overall district, other development, or streetscape.

Third, the revision to the Landmark Commission process will allow more flexibility in the application process. The proposed change to the submission process will allow the process to be set by administrative rule, which is more in line with other boards and commissions.

Ma. Williams opened the public hearing and asked for questions or comments from the audience.  There were none.

Following a short recess, Ms. Williams called the meeting back into session, paid tribute to former Mayor Earl Leiken, now chief of staff for Cuyahoga County’s chief executive, and described the process City Council went through to find a replacement for Mr. Leiken. Council’s responsibility is to name a mayor who would serve for the rest of 2018 and must run in the November 2018 election.  The  community would then vote to determine who would serve until December 2019 to complete Mr. Leiken’s full term. With special thanks to Ms. Chaikin, Mr. Gruber, and the city’s communications department, Ms. Williams described the process Council developed to select a replacement, including announcing the vacancy and inviting interested applicants to apply. Seven timely applications were received; five were interviewed in hour-long sessions. A majority vote of Council was needed to select a new mayor. Ms. Williams announced Council’s choice:former City Council member David E. Weiss.

Ms. Williams then took official action and moved to appoint Ms. Weiss as mayor. The motion was seconded, and all voted in favor except Ms. Senturia, who abstained. Mr. Weiss was introduced as the new mayor, sworn in by Judge K.J. Montgomery, and received a standing ovation.

In brief remarks, Mr. Weiss expressed his thanks to Council and to those joining him tonight and acknowledged the honor and privilege he feels in being selected to serve.  He and his family have lived in Shaker for 30 years, during which the community has benefited from superb mayors.  He moves into the office with big shoes to fill and looks forward to the challenges and opportunities. He expressed admiration for the professionalism and dedication of the city staff and closed by noting that the future for Shaker is bright, with exciting developments in the Van Aken area, in the Moreland area, and in all of the neighborhoods. What makes Shaker so special are the people who choose to live here, he said, and he looks forward to working with everyone to move the community ahead.

Ms. Williams adjourned the meeting and invited those present to join a reception honoring the new mayor.
Jan Devereaux