Observer Reports

Safety & Public Works Committee, February 2018

February 2nd, 2018  |  Published in Observer Reports

Safety & Public Works Committee
Feb. 2, 2018

Present: Council members Nancy Moore (chair), Tres Roeder, Julianna Senturia; citizen members James Brady, Jonathan Hren, Austin McGuan; Mayor Earl Leiken, CAO Jeri Chaikin, Chief of Police Jeffrey DeMuth, Assistant Director of Public Works Christian Maier, Chief of Fire Patrick Sweeney.
Absent: Council member Anne Williams and citizen member James Sammon

Ms. Moore called the meeting to order at 8:05 a.m. This being a newly constituted committee (every two years), introductions were made and the rules of operation reviewed. The meeting time has been changed from 7:30 to 8 a.m.

Mr. Maier presented a construction schedule for 2018 capital projects. Details of each will be discussed as they come due throughout the year. Of the 14 known projects, most will be under construction between mid-March and the end of August. These include sewer relocation and overflow improvements; water main replacements and their related landscape needs; and side-street resurfacing in the Fernway, Mercer, and Moreland neighborhoods, with a major street project on Fairhill. Plans are in place to notify residents of temporary traffic pattern changes.

Chief DeMuth described an amended two-year contract between the city and Solon for housing Shaker Heights prisoners at the much larger and up-to-date jail in Solon. The new contract reduces the annual fee to $229,200, with an additional $5,000 per month charge if Shaker prisoner days exceed 3,000 annually. The base rate will now be $81.86 per prisoner day, inclusive of all services. This is a savings of $69,000 over the length of the contract, based on 2016-17 figures of 694 prisoners with 2,793 prisoner days.

Chief Sweeney requested approval to apply for a $13,300 FEMA Assistance to Firefighters grant to fund the purchase of two training simulators: one for door-forcible entry training and one for window and metal cutting entry training. Approval was granted.

Chief Sweeney presented a history and overview of the new Heights-Hillcrest Communication Center, a regional dispatch center for the fire and police departments of five communities (Shaker Heights, Cleveland Heights, South Euclid, University Heights, and Richmond Heights). Five years in the planning, the center opened on Nov. 1, 2017, in the Cleveland Heights Metro-Health Medical Building on Severance Circle. HHCC is governed by a board composed of the member cities’ mayors and is managed by the Chagrin Valley Dispatch Center for the next five years. Shaker Law Director William Gruber is legal consultant.

The meeting adjourned at 9:18 a.m.
Linda Lissauer, 752-0875

Library Board of Trustees, January 2018

February 2nd, 2018  |  Published in Observer Reports

Library Board of Trustees
Jan. 30, 2018

Present: All board members and Library Director Amy Switzer

The Fiscal Officer presented financial data for December. The library closed the year with a modest surplus due to cost-cutting efforts and slightly larger revenue than budgeted. The board approved authorizing purchases from a number of vendors that, over the course of the year, will total amounts larger than $50,000. All purchases larger than that amount require board approval.

Ms. Switzer noted the opening reception for the exhibition “Rings of Life,” featuring trees of Shaker Heights, on Thursday, Feb.1. Also noted was the county-wide reading project, “One Book.”

Quarterly usage numbers were reviewed. Trends seen nationally continued in Shaker libraries: diminished use of physical materials and increased use of electronic resources. A large drop in the use of CDs and DVDs has been seen due to consumer use of streaming services. Program offerings and program attendance were up over the previous year’s numbers. A new offering is being developed: a mobile limited “hot spot” for streaming limited movies and TV series, expected to be available within the month.

In cooperation with Bellefaire, Shaker libraries are now Safe Places for youth.

A Channel 5 interview was mentioned—a lengthy session that was edited to 90 seconds.

The board approved the acceptance of gifts and adjourned to executive session at 7:10 p.m.
Kathleen Hickman

Board of Zoning Appeals/City Planning Commission, December 2017

January 5th, 2018  |  Published in Observer Reports

Board of Zoning Appeals and City Planning Commission
Dec. 5, 2017

Present: John Boyle, Kevin Dreyfuss-Wells, David Weiss, Councilman Rob Zimmerman
Also Present: Dan Feinstein, Planning Department; William Gruber, Law Director

The meeting was called to order by Acting Chair Rob Zimmerman at 7:32 p.m. The minutes of the Nov. 8, 2017, meeting were approved.


3592 LEE LLC – 3592 LEE ROAD

Continuation of a public hearing on the request of Shannon Meyer, Digital Forensics Corp., representing Dmitry Belkin, 3592 Lee Road, for parking variances in order to renovate this vacant property for individual salon businesses. Code requires 47 spaces for salon and office uses; 43 spaces are proposed. Code requires 20 percent overall landscaping; the applicant proposes 13 percent.

Variances for parking and landscaping were approved unanimously with the following conditions:

  • The parking space variance conditioned upon a re-evaluation in one year to consider the option of adding additional off-site parking spaces
  • Implementation of the Option 1 layout without interior landscape islands
  • Revised landscape plan as approved by staff to meet code requirements for the side yard and rear yard with the addition of shade trees and bushes in the side yard and evergreens for 100 percent screening in the rear
  • An 8-foot-tall wood fence on the rear property line as approved by staff
  • Submission of a storm water drainage plan to be approved by staff.


Public hearing on the request of Patrick Beam, 9th Avenue Designs, on behalf of Paul and Lariza Kaiser, 2936 Glengary Road, for a variance to pool regulations.

The new pool replaces an existing pool in essentially the same location. A detached garage in the rear yard limits the orientation and location of the pool. The lack of a deck on one side is offset by a 30-inch-wide hard surface at that end, and only low landscaping beyond that, allowing for safe exit or rescue from outside the pool. The other three sides of the pool will have a new patio and deck.

Variance to the pool regulations approved unanimously.


Public hearing on the request of Mike Khemelnitsky, 3007 Brighton Road LLC, owner, 3265 Chadbourne Road, for a variance to the side yard setback requirements to replace a porch and build a two-story addition.

The house is being renovated with additional living room space and a master bathroom to increase value and marketability. Other side yard porches in the neighborhood have been enclosed and the footprint of the current porch remains the same.

Variance approved unanimously with the following condition: The existing 8-foot-tall bushes in the side yard will remain and be protected during construction.


Public Hearing on the request of Dustin Pettrey, Portman Electric, on behalf of Vlad Dubchuk, 19300 South Park Blvd., for a variance to the location requirements for an emergency generator.

This is a very large lot; the proposed location will be hidden by a 6-foot-tall wood fence, the garage and a stone wall; and the neighbor’s unit is nearby and was granted a variance in 1998.

The variance was approved unanimously with the following conditions:

  • The unit is relocated to approximately 6 feet off the side property line
  • A 6-foot-tall fence with a sound-blanket-type material attached to the inside surrounds the unit on all four sides. The unit must be tested only during daylight hours on weekdays.

The meeting was adjourned at 8:30 p.m.
Jan Devereaux

City Council, December 2017

January 2nd, 2018  |  Published in Observer Reports

City Council
Dec. 18, 2017

Present: Mayor Earl Leiken; 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 Economic Development Tania Menesse; Director of Public Works Patricia Speese; President of Family Connections Kyle Hodges; Vice President of Family Connections Andrew Bouthilet; Executive Director of Family Connections Joanne Federman; Director of Planning Joyce Braverman; Human Resources Manager Sandra Middleton

The mayor called the meeting to order at 7:33 p.m. and adjourned at 9:06 p.m.

Fifteen out of 20 items on the agenda were passed declaring an emergency.

Items on the agenda unanimously approved:

  • Confirmation of the mayor’s reappointment of Richard Bauschard and William Oeflein for a three-year term as alternate members of the Architectural Board of Review, expiring Dec. 31, 2020. Also confirmed was the appointment of Hans Walter as a regular member of the board; he will complete his three-year term on Dec. 31, 2019.
  • Confirmation of the mayor’s reappointment of Jan Devereaux and Thomas Starinsky for three-year terms as members of the Landmark Commission, expiring Dec. 31, 2020
  • Confirmation of the mayor’s appointment of Marguerite Bibb for a two-year term as an alternate member of the Board of Appeals, expiring Dec. 31, 2019
  • Approval of the minutes of the meetings held Nov. 13, 2017, and Nov. 27, 2017
  • An ordinance to authorizing a personal services contract with L.A.N.D. Studio, Inc., for the provision of services for implementing public art for the Van Aken District. The cost will not exceed $43,000.
  • An ordinance to award and authorize a contract with Madden Brothers for the 2018 Yard Waste Disposal Program for $58,345. Previously, compost companies took Shaker Heights compost with no cost; however, currently there is plastic contamination in Shaker Heights compost, causing many compost companies to stop processing it. Originally, Public Works sent an emergency bid to six vendors, and three responded, but only one company had a complete bid, which was rejected by Public Works for its high cost of $247,500. Public Works then sent a Request for Proposal to 11 companies, four of which responded. Madden Brothers’ bid was the lowest.
  • An ordinance to authorize a lease agreement between the city and Family Connections of Northeast Ohio for three years. The agreement requires the city to reimburse Family Connections $129,996 annually for maintenance of the city-owned property (Sussex School) using city workers. The city must also subsidize 33 percent of any annual shortfall in the cost of managing the facility, and must cover the cost of any repairs over $1,000.
  • An ordinance amending the current budget ordinance, which allocates money to the city’s departments to balance the budget. Some departments spent more than they were appropriated and some spent less, so the amendment reallocates funds to fix this. The General Fund’s revenue was higher than initially expected and the 2017 expenditures were lower than expected, allowing for money to be transferred from the General Fund without increasing totals: $110,000 from the General Fund is going to the Fire Pension Fund to pay for overtime hours of injured firemen; $1.2 million is being moved to the General Capital Fund; and $1.8 million if going to the Sewer Capital Fund. Finally, $29,100 will be appropriated to the Vision Fund.
  • An ordinance appropriating money to cover the current expenses of the city through Dec. 31, 2018. An additional $100,000 will be allocated to the capital fund for Recreation (park improvements and repairs).
  • An ordinance adopting a classification and pay plan for positions in the service of the city to be in accordance with the increase of the Ohio minimum wage from $8.15 to $8.30. The city will increase the base pay to the $8.30 and adjust remaining wages by maintaining 3 percent between each step.
  • An ordinance adopting a classification and pay plan for part-time and temporary employees in city departments to be in accordance with the increase of the Ohio minimum wage
  • An ordinance appropriating $364,000 from the General Capital Fund to provide for the purchase of equipment for the Police Department
  • An ordinance appropriating $235,000 from the General Capital Fund to provide for the purchase of equipment for the Fire Department
  • An ordinance appropriating $639,000 from the General Capital Fund to provide for the purchase of equipment for the Public Works Department
  • An ordinance appropriating $2 million from the General Capital Fund to provide for the 2018 Street Resurfacing Program
  • An ordinance appropriating $2.55 million from the Sewer Capital Improvements Fund to provide for the repair of sewers, laterals, and culverts
  • An ordinance appropriating $923,000 from the General Capital Fund to provide for equipment, repairs, and improvements for city facilities
  • An ordinance appropriating $412,000 from the General Capital Fund to provide for the equipment, repairs, and improvements for the Recreation Department
  • An ordinance appropriating $177,000 from the General Capital Fund to provide for the purchase of information technology equipment, software, and licenses for various city departments.
  • Authorization of a liquor permit for Juma Gallery (20100-06 Chagrin Blvd.)
    Ryan Brady

Finance Committee, December 2017

December 30th, 2017  |  Published in Observer Reports

Finance Committee
Dec. 11, 2017

Members Present: Committee members Nancy Moore (chair), Sean Malone, Earl Williams, and Robert Zimmerman; citizen member Linda Lalley. Citizen member Martin Kolb was absent
Others present: Mayor Earl Leiken, Assistant Finance Director Cheryl Arslanian, Planning Director Joyce Braverman, Public Works Director Patricia Speese, Administrative Assistant Gail Little

The meeting was called to order by Ms. Moore at 7:33 a.m. Ms. Moore said that she will submit some edits to the minutes of the Nov. 20, 2017, meeting. Ms. Lalley moved to approve the minutes with edits, Mr. Malone seconded, and the edited minutes were approved

Agenda—Committee actions:

Ms. Braverman presented her recommendation to approve a contract for public art implementation services from LAND Studio for $43,000. Implementation services will include curation of public art for two separate projects in the Van Aken District, artist research and selection, implementation and construction of public art, payment of artist design fees and expenses, and public input. LAND Studio is the only local company to bid this project; all other bids came from out of state at significantly higher cost. The Planning Department has $43,000 in the Special Services operating budget for this project. The city Planning Commission, at its Nov. 8, 2017, meeting, recommended approval of this request. Ms. Moore said the funds come from the $2.3 million Van Aken District Public Art Plan. Mr. Williams asked who was running this project. Ms. Braverman replied that the Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative (CUDC) is running the project; they have models and designs for this work.

Mr. Williams noted he is familiar and comfortable with CUDC. Ms. Lalley asked if LAND will manage the project. Ms. Braverman answered that LAND will manage the artist and the artist will be local. Mr. Malone asked Ms. Braverman to describe the spaces. Ms. Braverman gave examples of spaces: the corner of Chagrin & Warrensville, the “living room” park, the Walgreens “walk through,” and murals on various walls at 8-10 locations throughout the larger Van Aken area. Mr. Malone inquired if the city decides locations. Ms. Braverman answered the city art committee decides locations and selects art, after public meetings. Mr. Williams asked if the art will be distinguished. Ms. Braverman said the art will be labeled. Ms. Moore asked why the art is important. Ms. Braverman remarked that art differentiates the Shaker community. Mr. Zimmerman remarked that art creates a personal space. Mr. Williams moved to recommend to council the approval of the project, Ms. Lalley seconded the motion, and the motion was approved by the finance committee without dissent.

Ms. Speese presented her recommendation for approval to waive formal competitive bidding and enter into a contract with Madden Brothers in the amount of $58,345 for the disposal of brush, grass and leaves for a period of one-year (2018). The 2018 budget has the funds available for this contract. Shaker Heights entered into an agreement with Sagamore Soils for the disposal of yard waste (including leaves, brush and grass bags) at their facility. Employees of Sagamore Soils inspected our semi-truckload and found an excessive amount of trash, including large plastic recyclables, glass, and other nonorganic material. Sagamore Soils abruptly ended accepting yard waste from some cities, including Shaker Heights, in July 2017. Shaker generates a significant amount of yard waste, much more than many other cities, which intensifies the problem for companies that accept yard waste. The public works department’s grass bag collection crew now has to open every grass bag on the tree lawn to check for trash; obviously this is extremely time-consuming and labor-intensive. If a bag is contaminated with trash, the bag is left on the tree lawn; in 2018 a sticker will be placed on the bag stating that it is contaminated.

Ms. Moore commented that Public Works takes a beating, as they are a servant for residents. Past experience indicates a public education campaign is necessary. Residents are placing many trash items in grass bags, at significant cost. The city now has a $250,000 disincentive to accept any yard waste for recycling into compost or mulch. Shaker does not now pass this disincentive on to the resident violators and there is no fine on violators. Mr. Zimmerman asked for some clarification on the bidding process for this project; did the city ask for competitive bids? Ms. Speese answered that the city could not find anyone who would even bid. Every community has this problem. These companies will only accept our yard waste after we have screened it, at significant labor cost. The trash ruins their processing equipment.

Mr. Zimmerman said the city has a communication problem with the public. Ms. Moore thinks the problem is due to carelessness rather than lack of education. Residents are not paying attention. The county is considering a “plastic bag initiative” to eliminate use of plastic bags by charging a disincentive bag fee at the retailer. Ms. Lalley said that the discussion of fines disturbed her. Was this presented as an option to the Safety & Public Works committee? She would accept a fine for violators but suggested a return to accepting only Shaker label bags as an option [to raise money to cover some costs]. Mr. Zimmerman asked if this was only a one-year contract. Ms. Speese confirmed it was one year only. Mr. Zimmerman asked if other companies were considered for following years. Ms. Speese answered that the city was considering using the city-owned property in Bedford to use for yard waste. Mr. Zimmerman emphasized that Public Works must make clear to Council what other solutions are being considered for following years. Mr. Malone asked if this problem also applied to the loose leaf loading. Ms. Speese confirmed that all yard waste, including loose leaf waste, went into the same transfer trailer. Mayor Leiken said that public works needs to recommend a larger and longer term solution rather than stop with this one-year solution.

Ms. Moore said that it’s a daunting process to educate residents; it will require many different communications. Mr. Malone said he supported a fine for violators—they should bear the costs imposed. Mr. Zimmerman agreed with violator fines. Ms. Moore said the cost should be presented as a fee. Mr. Leiken asked if the contamination is easy to identify. Ms. Speese replied that every yard waste bag must be opened and sometimes manually sorted in order to remove contaminates, and therefore any contaminated bag is not accepted. The resident often does not understand why the bag was left on the tree lawn and complains to the city, which is the reason for placing a “contaminated” sticker on bags in 2018. Mr. Leiken asked when the city stopped requiring the Shaker labeled bags. Ms. Speese replied that had been several years ago.

Ms. Moore then summarized the request. Mr. Williams moved to recommend to Council the approval of the project, with a stipulation that the contractor report on the results, Ms. Lalley seconded the motion, and the motion was approved by the finance committee.

Ms. Moore adjourned the meeting at 8:05 am.
Frank Goforth

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

December 29th, 2017  |  Published in Observer Reports

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

(Meeting Agenda, Minutes and Presentations are available at

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

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

Agenda—Council actions:

1. Proposed 2018 Capital Budget:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Library Board of Trustees, December 2017

December 29th, 2017  |  Published in Observer Reports

Library Board of Trustees
Dec. 18, 2017

Present: All board members

The annual organizational meeting was held, with officers reelected to serve for the coming year. The same members will be continuing to serve on the board’s financial committee, and the fiscal officer (Susan Beaver) and deputy (Amy Switzer, the library director) remain the same. Salary for the fiscal officer is unchanged at $74,000/year. The calendar of meeting dates for 2018 was approved, and the library director was authorized to acquire and dispose of materials. The organizational meeting lasted about 15 minutes.

The regular meeting followed and included comments from resident Mary Boyle. She is one of a group of citizens concerned about the prospect of tax increases, and urged the board to consider pursuing the possibility of joining the Cuyahoga County Library system, and enter into conversations in that direction.

A presentation was made by Kevin Kennedy of HBM Architects, focused on possible renovations and additions to the present library facilities at Main and Bertram Woods. The latter would involve updates and repairs and have a price tag of about $1.1 million. Plans for Main call for an addition on the east side of the existing building at ground level, amounting to about 8,400 sq. ft., to provide access and reorient the existing 44,000+ sq. ft. of space. Estimated price tag for that project is about $10.1 million. Additional technology-related and other costs would be about $700,000.

Later in the meeting, after considerable discussion, a vote was taken on the resolution to proceed with a ballot request in May for a 1.9 mill operating levy to fund the project. The resolution was approved, with Mr. Cicarella voting no to the May ballot, preferring a November date. He added comments that he fully supports the project.

The fiscal officer presented year-end projections for funding and expenditures, noting a surplus. There had been a deficit the previous year, and cost-cutting measures had been implemented. Also funding from the state was slightly higher than budgeted. The board approved moving $94,000 to the capital fund, and also adopted a temporary appropriation (through the first quarter of 2018) with expectations of completing an annual appropriation measure by March.

In the director’s report, the designation of the two libraries as Safe Spaces, in conjunction with Bellefaire, was reported and explained.
Kathleen Hickman

Finance Committee, November 2017

November 27th, 2017  |  Published in Observer Reports

Finance Committee
Nov. 20, 2017

Members Present: Council members Nancy Moore (chair), Sean Malone, Earl Williams, and Rob Zimmerman; citizen members Martin Kolb and Linda Lalley
Others present: Mayor Earl Leiken, Chief Administrative Officer Jeri Chaikin, Chief of Police Ed DeMuth, Principal Planner Ann Klavora, Finance Director Robert Baker, Law Director William Gruber

The meeting was called to order by Ms. Moore at 7:30 a.m.

 Agenda—Committee actions:

1. The minutes of the Oct. 16, 2017, meeting were approved.

2. Chief DeMuth presented his recommendation to approve the transfer of Police “Personal Service” appropriations to Police “Other” appropriations in an amount of $35,250 to pay for one year of a three-year Support and Maintenance agreement and for the cost related to the data conversion from the police department’s current public safety software to the new Records Management System (RMS) purchased from TAC Computer. The cost of Shaker’s present RMS is $66,000 per year. It is not compatible with the RMS system used by most neighboring municipalities. The Heights Hillcrest Communication Center (HHCC) and the Chagrin Valley Dispatch Council (CVD) have converted to TAC software for Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD) and Mobile Reporting (MR), funded by a Cuyahoga County grant. Shaker Heights is a member of HHCC and is therefore using the TAC software for CAD and MR functions. The cost of the TAC system for RMS would be $28,994 per year, thus saving $37,006 annually. The one-time data conversion cost is $10,000.

Ms. Moore summarized the savings for the city and then asked for questions and comments. Mr. Kolb asked how many neighboring cities are part of the two dispatch systems. Chief DeMuth’s answer: 45 of 67 emergency agencies are in the HHCC and CVD. Ms. Moore asked how the startup of TAC at HHCC has been. Chief DeMuth said there have been some bumps that have been ironed out now. Although HHCC at Severance is already live, Mr. Kolb asked why Shaker would move money when Shaker has excess capital needs. Mayor Leiken said this was a good question. Shaker has infrastructure needs and not enough funds to deal with them, and in addition it has to deal with any emergencies that arise. Chief DeMuth said they had reviewed the existing New World system and the one-time interface cost to HHCC would be approximately $30,000 versus an interface cost of $13,000 for the TAC system. Mayor Leiken commented this would be fiscally responsible and not require new debt. Ms. Moore asked for any further questions, and after hearing none she summarized the request and asked for a motion. Mr. Kolb moved to accept the recommendation, Mr. Malone seconded the motion and it was approved.

3. Chief DeMuth presented his recommendation to approve the services agreement with the Cuyahoga County OVI (Operating a Vehicle Impaired) Task Force Court for use toward additional traffic enforcement patrols as soon as possible, and accept funds in the amount of $9,500 being offered as a grant by the Cuyahoga County OVI Task Force. The Safety and Public Works Committee recommended approval of this request at its Nov. 3 meeting.

The funds would be used as overtime pay for officers to target OVI offenses, not for general policing. Officers would only stop drivers for suspicion of OVI offenses. Mr. Zimmerman asked if there were any additional audit requirements for this grant. Chief DeMuth responded that Sgt. Martin would file a two-page report each month. Mr. Kolb asked if this was only overtime duty and Chief DeMuth confirmed. Mr. Williams asked if juveniles and/or adults were targeted. Chief DeMuth replied that adults were targeted. Ms. Moore asked for any further questions, and after hearing none she summarized the request and asked for a motion. Mr. Kolb moved to accept the recommendation, Mr. Malone seconded the motion and it was approved.

4. Principal Planner Ann Klavora presented her recommendation for authorization of an application for, and acceptance of, a grant up to $75,000 from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). The grant would be used to implement new public art guided by an ongoing visioning process and stemming from recommendations in the 2016 Van Aken District Connections Plan. A one-to-one match is required, and sufficient funds are currently budgeted to meet this requirement. The City Planning Commission recommended approval of this request at its Nov. 8 meeting.

RMS Investment Corp., the developer and manager of the Van Aken Center, is the primary stakeholder and is very supportive of pursuing this grant. The grant is competitive and applications are due in March 2018. Shaker wishes to be prepared by January in order to get early comment on our application. Mr. Williams asked how competitive this process would be. Ms. Klavora stated the grant was national in scope and therefore would be very competitive. Mr. Williams continued, asking if there would be levels of competitions, such as state or regional competition, prior to a final decision. Ms. Klavora answered no, only national, and that Christian Roadman has prepared the application. Ms. Moore confirmed the one-to-one matching funds have been budgeted. Mr. Malone asked how these budgeted funds would be used if Shaker did not win the grant. Ms. Klavora said the funds were part of the public art fund and would be used for other art projects. Ms. Moore asked for any further questions, and after hearing none she summarized the request and asked for a motion. Mr. Williams moved to accept the recommendation, Mr. Kolb seconded the motion and it was approved.

5. Chief Administrative Officer Jeri Chaikin presented her recommendation to authorize the contract between the city and the County Board of Health for the year 2018, at a cost of $117,206. The State of Ohio has 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. Our Health Department cannot achieve public health accreditation without substantial additional resources and reorganization. Health services for city prisoners are now provided by Cuyahoga County in the Solon facility. Resident services would be provided by Cuyahoga County at their existing accredited facilities. Mayor Leiken stated that consolidation with the county health department is responsive to Shaker residents’ fiscal concerns, as was the consolidation of the building and housing departments, and results in maximizing savings to deal with broader challenges “down the road.” Mr. Williams stated the present per capita health department cost is $4.12, that costs for other communities are rising, and asked if that rate would increase after consolidation. Ms. Chaikin replied the cost will probably increase regardless of where the service is offered. Mr. Williams asked what the savings are. Ms. Chaikin replied the savings would be $245,000 per year. Mr. Malone asked if all neighboring cities were now part of the county system. Mr. Gruber responded that Shaker is the only city not part of the county health system. Ms. Lalley asked what services might no longer be offered. Ms. Chaikin said that all services would transfer to county facilities except blood pressure screening, which would be performed at South Pointe Hospital. Mayor Leiken asked if transportation would continue to be provided. Ms. Chaikin clarified that transportation would continue to be provided for seniors, but not for other residents and children. Ms. Moore asked for any further questions, and after hearing none she summarized the request and asked for a motion. Mr. Williams moved to accept the recommendation, Mr. Malone seconded the motion and it was approved.

6. Director of Finance Robert Baker presented his recommendation that the Then and Now Certificate presented for various transactions and their payments be approved. A motion was made and approved.

Ms. Moore adjourned the meeting at 8:27 a.m.
Frank Goforth

City Council & Finance Committee Joint Meeting, November 2017

November 27th, 2017  |  Published in Observer Reports

Shaker Heights Joint City Council & Finance Committee Work Session
Nov. 13, 2017

Present: Mayor Earl Leiken; Council members Sean Malone, Earl Williams, Tres Roeder, Juliana Johnston Senturia, Anne Williams, Nancy Moore
Also present: Chief Administrative Officer Jeri Chaikin, Law Director William M. Ondrey Gruber, Finance Director Robert H. Baker, Mayor’s Financial Task Force Chair Martin Kolb, Mayor’s Financial Task Force member Linda Lalley, President of the Shaker Heights Public Library Board Brian Gleisser, Director of Shaker Heights Public Library Amy Switzer.

The mayor called the meeting to order at 6:35 p.m. and adjourned it at 9:10 p.m.

The meeting started with a presentation by Ms. Switzer and Mr. Gleisser updating Council on Library services and plans. Members of the Library Board of Trustees were present as well. Prior to the presentation, the mayor said he wanted to make a statement on the record. Noting that he was speaking solely for himself (but with the agreement of his financial task force), he said that given the tax burden in Shaker Heights, the Library Board should consider merging with the Cuyahoga County Public Library (CCPL). He mentioned the possibility of Congress making state and local taxes non-deductible in the pending tax overhaul legislation and worries about this increasing the net cost of local taxes for Shaker residents. “I am concerned at this particular point in time about raising taxes,” the mayor said.

The library presentation emphasized how public libraries are crucial to building strong and resilient communities and that Shaker’s library is nationally recognized for being in the top 2 percent of libraries its size. They asked Council to think of the library as an economic development asset and a conduit of civic engagement. Shaker residents borrowed more than one million items in 2016 and use their libraries twice as often as most communities.

In order to make necessary capital repairs ($5.1 million total: $4.1 million for the Main Library, $1 million for Bertram Woods) and upgrade both Shaker Main and Bertram Woods, the Library Board is requesting an additional 1.9 mills, which would raise Shaker Library’s voted millage from 4.0 to 5.9, but the effective millage would actually be 5.714384, which is well below the county average. (Like the school system, the library system is subject to House Bill 920, so as property values rise, the effective millage goes down.) The board determined that upgrading its facilities would provide the greatest return on investment. Plans are to put the measure on the ballot in May 2018.

With the increase, the library’s millage would represent 2.64 percent of Shaker’s property taxes. The library’s facilities are in dire need of improvement according to the trustees, and the board hasn’t asked for a millage increase in 21 years (1996)—and it has been 14 years since the last bond issue (2004). The proposed millage increase would cost residents an additional $67 a year for every $100,000 of home value; that’s $5.58 a month or 18 cents a day.

The library’s representatives said it studied inclusion with the CCPL in May 2016, but the CCPL wouldn’t comment on future county tax increases and would not consider being a part of CLEVNET. CLEVNET, a consortium of more than 40 northern Ohio libraries operated by the Cleveland Public Library, is one of the largest library resource sharing networks in the United States. CLEVNET, they said, is an excellent example of regionalism because its costs are shared among its members. For every $1 spent, Shaker derives $6 in benefits.

The library wants to act with due diligence and CCPL wants a firm commitment from Shaker (a letter of intent, which is binding) if they are to go through the effort of investigating the process. Shaker Library would like answers to basic questions and doesn’t think it should have to submit a letter of intent. There is no way to know what will happen to the current libraries under a merger—if CCPL would keep two branches, or if it would even consider renovating the Main Library, which the City of Shaker Heights owns. Shaker would have to sign on and turn its assets over before the county will say what it would do. Mr. Gleisser said that the Library Board takes its fiduciary responsibilities seriously and can’t turn assets over and not know what it’s going to get in return. Library board member Dori Katz noted that Shaker could look at what the CCPL has done in other communities and can assume that they won’t maintain two branches.

Ms. Moore pointed out that in the 1980s there was a referendum on whether Shaker should be an independent library system and the voters said yes. Mayor Leiken said his financial task force could facilitate a discussion with CCPL regarding inclusion.

There was public comment prior to the meeting about the fact that no supporting documents for the budget were available to review before the meeting. Council was reminded that it is important to be transparent, that it was frustrating not to have the documents for the budget in preparation for the meeting, and that public comment was adversely affected.

The mayor said the budget presentation was a review of 2017 and where the city is in its performance for 2017, but noted the concern. Mr. Baker said that there was to be no discussion of the 2018 budget, just a year-to-date of the 2017 budget and expenditures.

There was also public comment regarding transport for citizens who will not be able access public health facilities in Shaker any longer. With the $250,000 in savings that will come to the city by eliminating the Health Department, Council was urged to use some of it for transportation to the county facilities in Parma and Metrohealth at South Pointe. Ms. Chaikin said that the city has arranged for this.

Mr. Baker presented 2017 budget projections and discussed the City Fund structure. He stated that the city will need additional debt service next year. The estate tax used to fund the following year’s debt service, but now the city has to make transfers out of the general fund for this. The debt service is to the Port Authority for development of the Van Aken District. It is hoped that a major office building will bring in significant dollars.

Items on the agenda unanimously approved:

  • An ordinance delegating authority for health permits, licensing, and enforcement under Ohio law to the Cuyahoga County Board of Health. The Shaker Heights Health Department will cease operations in January. Concern about immunizations for school students was addressed by Ms. Chaikin, who said Warrensville South Pointe Hospital will be open to all ages for vaccines starting in early January. It will be by appointment only. She said 500 residents took advantage of the immunization program offered by the Shaker Heights Health Department, with 181 students utilizing the service. Thanks were expressed to Council member Sean Malone for reviewing the legal documents and ensuring that by delegating to the county the enforcement of our laws, we retain the ability to call back these powers.
  • Amending an ordinance authorizing appropriating grant funds from the General Capital Fund to fund the County Demolition Bond Fund Program, by appropriating $440,000 for the demolition of residential properties.

Audrey Morris

Safety & Public Works Committee, November 2017

November 27th, 2017  |  Published in Observer Reports

Safety & Public Works Committee
Nov. 3, 2017

Present: Council members Nancy Moore, Tres Roeder, Julianna Senturia, and Anne Williams; citizen member Austin McGuan; CAO Jeri Chaikin; Director of Public Works Patricia Speese; Chief of Police Jeffrey N. DeMuth; Battalion Fire Chief James Heath; Mayor Earl Leiken

Ms. Senturia called the meeting to order at 7:34 a.m. The minutes of the Oct. 6, 2017, meeting were approved as submitted.

The first two items were recommended for approval and sent to the Finance Committee:

1. Chief DeMuth requested the transfer of $35,250 of Police “Personal Service” funds to Police “Other” funds to pay for one year of a three-year agreement for support and maintenance of new TAC public safety software. The new software conforms to that used by the newly instituted Regional Dispatch Center members, and it’s used by 45 of the 57 law enforcement agencies in the county.

2.  Chief DeMuth requested acceptance and appropriation of $9,500 from the Cuyahoga County OVI [Operating a Vehicle Impaired] Task Force for use toward additional traffic enforcement patrols. Shaker Heights has received these grants since 2013, enabling assignment of officers to traffic enforcement details at no cost to the taxpayers. Chief DeMuth noted that about 50 percent of traffic-related arrests are from incidents reported by residents.

Battalion Chief of Fire James Heath presented an updated Cuyahoga County All Natural Hazards Mitigation Plan for 2017-2022. Adoption of the plan will expedite the city’s eligibility for federal disaster mitigation funding should a disaster occur within the Shaker Heights boundaries. The plan conforms to FEMA criteria and focuses on prevention, not aftermath. Situations covered in the plan include natural disasters, shooters, and civil disobedience. The plan may be previewed at

The meeting adjourned at 8:10 a.m.
Linda Lissauer