Uncategorized

County Council, Nov. 25, 2014

November 30th, 2014  |  Published in Uncategorized

County Council Regular Meeting:  November 25, 2014

Observer: Janice Patterson

This report contains member observations and selected highlights of a meeting of the Cuyahoga County Council and is not an official statement by any League of Women Voters in the county.  For the official disposition of all agenda items, consult the Cuyahoga County Council website at council.cuyahogacounty.us

I. Introduction.

The meeting was called to order promptly at 5:00 p.m. by President C. Ellen Connally with all Council members except David Greenspan present. The meeting adjourned at 6:00 p.m. There was a 15-minute executive session about halfway through the meeting.

II. Antecedents, Announcements or Public Comment

President Connally stated that the closing of the MetroHealth System clinic at Asia Plaza came as a surprise to Council members and that she would join Council member Yvonne Conwell in introducing a resolution that would require MetroHealth to require a 90-day-notice to Council when closing a site. County Executive Ed FitzGerald’s only statement of the evening was his “on point” comment on this contemplated action.

A public comment was made by Janice Ridgeway of Garden Valley Neighborhood House urging Council’s support for the pending contract supporting emergency food services.

III. Business Transacted

Six items were approved upon second reading under suspension of rules:

  • Amendment to MetroHealth policies & procedures permitting joint purchasing with other local hospitals
  • Authorization for sale of sales tax revenue bonds for sewer district improvements and for County facilities improvements
  • Sale of tax-exempt economic development bonds for the Medical Mart/Convention Center project
  • Sale of taxable economic development bonds for the Western Reserve Fund (a revolving loan fund supporting job creation and retention in the County)
  • Award of $1.095K fiscal agent services contract to United Way for emergency food purchases for Cuyahoga County residents

Nine items received their second reading:

*  contract for community works service placement and supervision program

*  group healthcare benefits for county employees and eligible dependents with three providers

MetroHealth System Year 2015 Budget

*  amend name of fiber maintenance service provider

*  contracts for 22 persons to provide real estate appraisal services

*  an ordinance establishing guidelines for financial management of County operations and a long-term County financial plan

Ten items received first reading and were referred to various committees:

  • Six resolutions supporting applications to the Clean Ohio Fund Green Space Conservation Program for specific areas
  • Change of scope and additional funds for design engineering services contract for Royalton Road project
  • Authorization of Mayfield Village’s participation in a benefits regionalization program
  • Five-year maintenance and support contract for automated fingerprint identification system
  • Four-year agreement with MetroHealth System for services at the County Corrections Center.
  • Additional funds for two organizations providing Staff for Secure Shelter Care Services
  • An ordinance establishing a post-secondary, small business internship

IV. Notes:

The Council will convene as a Committee of the Whole on Dec. 2 at 3 p.m. and on Dec. 9 at 4:30 p.m.

The next regular Council meeting is Dec. 9 at 5:00 p.m.

There will be a special year-end meeting on Thursday, Dec. 18, with the time yet to be determined.

County Council, Nov. 12, 2014

November 30th, 2014  |  Published in Uncategorized

County Council Regular Meeting: November 12, 2014

Observers: Grennetta Taylor and Lynda Mayer

This report contains member observations and selected highlights of a meeting of the Cuyahoga County Council and is not an official statement by any League of Women Voters in the county.  For the official disposition of all agenda items, consult the Cuyahoga County Council website at council.cuyahogacounty.us

I.  Introduction.  The meeting was called to order by Council President Connally at 5 p.m. with all Council members and County Executive FitzGerald present. Because yesterday was Veterans Day, the meeting took place on Wednesday, Nov. 12.

II.  Antecedents, Announcements or Public Comment.  Ms. Connally congratulated winning candidates of last Tuesday’s elections.  During the meeting, she acknowledged County Executive-Elect Armond Budish and County Councilmember-elect Shontel Brown, who were both in attendance.  Mr. Budish addressed the council and indicated he has established a diverse Transition group.  He said his priorities included job growth, establishing a path from poverty, elevating the area as an economic powerhouse, and maintaining an open-door policy.

III. Business Transacted.

*  Two new resolutions were introduced by Council.  One would approve the MetroHealth System’s policies and procedures for participation in joint purchasing associations.  The second would determine which services and programs will be provided and funded from the Veterans Services Fund in 2014.

*  An ordinance establishing guidelines for the County Community Development Block Grant Fund Program, proposed by Council, was adopted on third reading.

* Another Council ordinance enacting the Cuyahoga County Appointment and Confirmation Act was likewise adopted. Councilman Miller commented that the ordinance will streamline the appointment process and make all information on nominees available to the committee.

* The Administration submitted nine new resolutions for referral to committee, some of which were the following:

—  The 2014/2015 Biennial Operating Budget and Capital Improvements Program Update.  This will be reviewed twice by the Committee of the Whole before year-end adoption.

—  The MetroHealth System Year 2015 Budget, likewise referred to Committee of the Whole.

—  $1.5 million to Downtown Cleveland Alliance for a Streetscape Improvement Project in the Gateway and Warehouse Districts.

—  $4 million loan from the Casino Revenue Fund to Landmark-May, LLC for the benefit of the May Company Building Project.

—  A $3 million loan, also from the Casino Revenue Fund, to Gateway Huron, LLC for the Gateway Huron Project located at E. 4th Street downtown.

—  $1.5 million in 2015 Community Development Block Grant awards to various communities for projects.  These include projects in Parma Heights ($150k), Shaker Heights ($150k), Rocky River ($150k), Maple Heights ($149k), Olmsted Falls ($150k), Middleburg Heights ($150k), Newburgh Heights ($150k) and Seven Hills ($150k).

—  Almost $1 million in awards to various appraisers for Real Estate appraisal services for properties subject to Sheriff’s Sale.

—  $1.1 million for fiscal agent services regarding emergency food purchases for residents.

*  Several Administrative resolutions were adopted, including the following

—  A contract was amended for the lease of space by the Veterans Service Commission.  Councilman Jones commented the amendment will extend the current lease at a lower cost.  The Council President indicated that upon the expiration the county should consider another location with more accessible space.

—  A lease with an option to purchase the former Juvenile Court Complex will be signed.  Councilman Jones described the planned redevelopment of the site as a boarding school for at-risk youth.  This legislation will enable the developers to begin the quest to secure financing for the project.

— A $2.1 million contract was awarded for design-build services for the Emergency Operations Center Project in Broadview Heights.

—  $1.3 million was awarded to Pictometry International Corp. for GIS data, software, aerial photography and related services for the next four years.  Councilman Miller indicated these services will provide data that will enhance property valuation and zoning; and all communities will have access to the data.

IV.  Notes.  Next regular Council Meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, Nov. 25, 2014.  Observers had the opportunity to meet and chat with a number of Council members.  Councilwoman Yvonne Conwell of the Greater Cleveland Urban League expressed interest in collaborating with the LWVGC on future voting-rights-related efforts.

County Council, Oct. 28, 2014

November 3rd, 2014  |  Published in Uncategorized

County Council Regular Meeting: Oct. 28, 2014

Observer:  Lesley Hahn

This report contains member observations and selected highlights of a meeting of the Cuyahoga County Council and is not an official statement by any League of Women Voters in the county.  For the official disposition of all agenda items, consult the Cuyahoga County Council website at council.cuyahogacounty.us

I. Introduction

       President Connally called the meeting to order at 5:05 p.m. All council members were present, along with County Executive Edward FitzGerald. The meeting ended at 7:18 p.m.

II. Antecedents, Announcements or Public Comment

A Committee of the Whole meeting prior to the Regular Meeting listened to Jeffrey Applebaum give a progress report on the Global Center for Health Innovation (Med Mart) and the Inclusion Program involving the operation of the Downtown Cleveland Convention Center.

       Several people, including four local clergy,  spoke at the onset of the agenda in favor of the establishment of a Department of Sustainability to provide better living conditions in the city and to enable Cleveland to become a green city.  See disposition below.

Council President Connally presented to the C.E.O. of the Domestic Violence and Child Advocacy Center a proclamation to commemorate October as Domestic Violence Awareness Month, noting that domestic violence is the No. 1 reason for police calls in the city of Cleveland and in most suburbs.

County Executive FitzGerald said that U.S. Secretary of H.U.D. Julién Castro was in Cleveland at the City Club today discussing early childhood education and recognizing how well the county has cooperated with the city of Cleveland.

III. Business Transacted

*  Two Resolutions of Council were adopted after second or third reading:

—  Appointment of Harriet Shaw Applegate to serve on the Port Authority Board of Directors;

—  Additional funds to hire two employment experts to improve applications and methods of hiring;

*  An ordinance establishing a Department of Sustainability was approved unanimously after third reading.  Several councilpersons commented favorably, its mission being to collaborate with other municipalities, establish plans, and assist in grant writing.  It was co-sponsored by 7 Democratic Councilpersons.  Councilwoman Simon reported that this ordinance received several hearings and the signatures of over 2,000 of supporters.  In addition, five other ordinances establishing administrative processes received committee referrals or second readings.

*  Several resolutions were introduced by County Executive FitzGerald and referred to committees, including these high ticket projects or bond issues:

—  c. $2 million for the design and construction of an Emergency Operations Center in Broadview Heights;

—  $10 million in tax revenue bonds for a pedestrian bridge between Mall C and the lakefront over the existing railroad tracks;

—  $35.8 million in tax revenue bonds for County Sewer District Improvement Bonds;

—  $168 million in tax revenue bonds for maintenance of seven different county-owned buildings, including the Justice Center;

—  $21 million in tax-exempt economic development bonds for the Medical Mart/Convention Center Project;

—  $24.5 million in economic development bonds from the Western Reserve fund for un-named projects.

*  Awards for group healthcare benefits were also introduced:  over $40 million to Caremark PCS Health,  $116 million to Medical Mutual of Ohio, and over $68 million to United Healthcare Services.

*  Several resolutions involving collaboration and regionalism were approved, with FitzGerald noting that, although we may not be able to effect merging of municipalities, we have seen real progress in assisting communities in outsourcing services to a larger entity at real cost savings:

—   An agreement with Oakwood village (the 35th community to sign up) for maintenance and repair of storm sewers, sanitary sewers and water lines;

—  Agreements with the Cities of Chardon (not in Cuyahoga County!) and Cleveland Heights (13 participants) for participation in the Cuyahoga County Benefits Regionalization Program.

*  A contract with Pay for Success of $5 million was adopted, for an intervention program for children in foster care and homeless families of children in foster care for the next five years. Councilman Miller stated that this program could save the county money as it helped to reunite families and reduced the time children spent in foster care.

*  A $50 million Demolition Fund was unanimously adopted, while eliciting a multitude of comments. This will fund the demolition of 5,000 blighted properties; however, it is estimated that $125 to $250 would eventually be needed, so four out of every five applications would be turned down. Councilman Shron’s  amendment to establish a new body, based on the model of the Clean Ohio fund, was rejected. Councilman Jones’ amendment was adopted to allow Council to establish a Property Demolition Oversight Committee to supervise the program as administered by the executive and the Land Bank. Interest-free loans would be extended to worthy applicants; after the loan was repaid the property owner would be entitled to receive a grant in the amount of one half the original value of the loan. The ordinance was adopted as amended.

 

 

 

 

County Council, Sept. 9, 2014

September 26th, 2014  |  Published in Uncategorized

County Council Regular Meeting: Sept. 9, 2014

Observer via Live Stream: Marcia Goldberg

This report contains member observations and selected highlights of a meeting of the Cuyahoga County Council and is not an official statement by any League of Women Voters in the county.  For the official disposition of all agenda items, consult the Cuyahoga County Council website at council.cuyahogacounty.us

I. Introduction.

President C. Ellen Connally called the meeting to order at 5 p.m. All other Council members were present. The meeting ended shortly before 6 p.m.

II. Antecedents, Announcements or Public Comment

There were no announcements by the Council President or messages from the County Executive. Rev. Pamela Pinkney Butts, who regularly attends Council meetings and makes comments, did so today both about agenda items and other issues.

IV. Business Transacted

Passed unanimously on first reading under suspension of rules:

  • An amendment to the 2014-15 operating budget to add $2.8 million to help fund the pedestrian and bicycle bridge from the malls to the lakefront (see related legislation below).
  • A collective bargaining agreement between the county and one of the UAW locals representing nine court security officers in the Sheriff’s department for the period Jan. 1, 2013, to Dec. 31, 2015. Ms. Connally said the agreement was “consistent with other contracts” the county has signed with unions.

Passed unanimously on second reading under suspension of rules:

  • Payments of $30,233 each to Cuyahoga Community College and Cleveland State University for scholarships for veterans residing in Cuyahoga County. Although the scholarship money does not amount to as much as was given last year, it would have gone back to the general fund if not used for these scholarships, which will go to veterans no longer eligible for the GI Bill. Mr. Schron said that he would like to see funding for a Fisher House at the VA Hospital here, too—Fisher Houses are residences for veterans and their families receiving treatment at VA hospitals.
  • Allowing the use of certain county facilities on a rent-free basis as set forth in the county’s service agreement with the Cleveland 2016 Host Committee, which is hosting the 2016 Republican National Convention.
  • An amendment to the county’s agreement made earlier this year selling the Loew’s Building to Playhouse Square Foundation to clarify that all county-owned properties associated with the building are transferred to the foundation.
  • The sale of county-owned property at 2500 East 79th St. to the Cleveland Clinic Foundation for $125,000.
  • A 12-month extension to the county’s contract with Reserve Apartments for lease of office space in the building, at a cost of $257,100.
  • An award of $2.8 million to Parsons Brinkeroff for architectural and engineering design services for the pedestrian and bicycle bridge from the malls to the lakefront (see first bullet above).
  • Amendments to contracts with two providers for the operation of OhioMeansJobs, extending the contracts to June 30, 2015, and adding funds totaling more than $2.7 million.
  • An amendment to a contract with United Labor Agency for “employer services,” extending its contract to June 30, 2015, and adding $1.4 million in funding. This program bases job training on the needs of employers rather than on training without employer input.
  • An $860,000 contract with Starting Point for administration of the Universal Pre-K Program. Ms. Simon explained that pre-kindergarten education is not yet universal in the county—that the program is “aspirational.”

Passed unanimously on third reading:

  • An amendment to the county’s contract with Woods Cove III, as purchaser, and Lien Servicing, as servicer, for the sale of tax lien certificates. The contract’s not-to-exceed amount ($25 million) was removed and instead the contract’s life was extended to three years.
  • Creation of a list of certified providers for occupational skills training services for the Individual Training Account System (workforce development) for the period July 1, 2014, to June 30, 2016. The list names 45 different approved providers.
  • The setting of a fee structure for dog adoptions at the county animal shelter. The ordinance gives the director of public works the flexibility to change fees under various circumstances, including overcrowding.

On second reading—and scheduled for a third reading on Sept. 23 were:

  • An ordinance amending copying costs for public records. It sets the price per paper page at 3 cents and $1 per gigabyte.
  • A resolution awarding $337,950 to MCPc, Inc., for wireless infrastructure analysis, hardware and installation services for the period June 1, 2014, to Dec. 31, 2016.

Several other pieces of legislation were on first or second reading and referred to various committees. They included a resolution approving amendments to the NOACA code of regulations, an appropriations resolution, a resolution amending the lease agreement and operating agreement with the Cuyahoga County Convention Facilities Development Corp., a resolution authorizing a utility agreement with Highland Heights for maintenance and repair of sewer and water lines, and a resolution authorizing necessary tax levies.

County Council Meeting, July 7, 2014

July 18th, 2014  |  Published in Uncategorized

County Council, July 7, 2014 (615)

County Council, June 24, 2014

June 29th, 2014  |  Published in Uncategorized

County Council Regular Meeting:  June 24, 2014

Observer: Marcia Goldberg

This report contains member observations and selected highlights of a meeting of the Cuyahoga County Council and is not an official statement by any League of Women Voters in the county.  For the official disposition of all agenda items, consult the Cuyahoga County Council website at council.cuyahogacounty.us

I. Introduction.

President C. Ellen Connally called the meeting to order at 5:04 p.m. All other Council members were present. The meeting ended just after 6 p.m.

II. Antecedents, Announcements or Public Comment

  • Ms. Connally thanked two longtime county employees who are retiring, David Reines and Joseph Gauntner.
  • County Executive’s Announcements: Mr. Fitzgerald also thanked the retiring employees and then told Council about a new jointly sponsored program to support small businesses. The county is providing $750,000 from its Western Reserve Fund (for economic development) to the program, which is also sponsored by the U.S. Small Business Administration, the Urban League, and the two municipalities where businesses will initially be helped: Cleveland and Shaker Heights. The program is in its “pilot” phase now and will be reevaluated in two years. New or established small businesses accepted into the program must provide their own equity, develop business plans, and qualify for SBA-backed bank loans. Mr. Fitzgerald had attended a press conference about the program earlier in the day and said the undertaking has a “lot of potential and promise.”

III. Business Transacted

  • Seven resolutions, each related to a proposed charter amendment, were referred to the Committee of the Whole. The seven involve: residency requirements for elective offices; issues related to the sheriff’s office; the timeline of the appointment process and the commencement of the term of future Charter Review Commissions; establishing an Agency of Inspector General; establishing an Investment Advisory Committee; changing the composition of county boards and commissions to ensure independence of judgment; and removing party affiliation from elected county office. Mr. Greenspan said that these seven, plus another related to voting rights, would be discussed by the committee at meetings on Wednesday, July 2, 9 a.m.-noon; Monday, July 7, 1:30-5:30 p.m.; and Thursday, July 17, 1:30-5 p.m. The schedule is tight, he said, because the proposed amendments must have their third reading by the second Council meeting in August to make it onto the November ballot.
  • Delayed for two weeks was consideration of an ordinance amending the county code to establish a “more consistent approach to compensation” for county non-bargaining employees. The ordinance was prompted by Council’s displeasure with the fact that the courts—without giving notice to County Council or considering the county’s budget—gave their non-bargaining employees a 3 percent raise last year. But just before today’s meeting, Council members received a letter from four top county judges saying the proposed ordinance would be unconstitutional because of the separation of powers. Mr. Gallagher was livid, complaining that the judges knew about the proposed ordinance last October and not one of them ever showed up at a Council committee meeting where it was discussed or at one of the three Council meetings where the ordinance was read. And Mr. Miller said that the language of the ordinance had already been changed to make notice of any proposed raises a “request” rather than a requirement. But Ms. Connally urged delay to avoid antagonizing the judges, and Council went along. Mr. Gallagher said he would hold another committee meeting on Tuesday, July 8, at 1 p.m. but did not expect anyone from the courts to show up.
  • Passed on third reading were: 1) a resolution appointing Donald N. Jaffe and reappointing Berj A. Shakarian and Jerry L. Young to the Soldiers and Sailors Monument Board. Ms. Connally said the board has funds available to remedy recent vandalism to the monument. 2) an ordinance establishing a policy for any requests for new programs that require an additional appropriation either during the budget process or during the year; the policy requires detailed information about unexpected requests because, Mr. Greenspan said, too many requests are being made without enough backup information. Ms. Simon voted against the ordinance, saying accountability could be required without legislation.
  • Passed on first reading under suspension of rules: 1) a mostly routine resolution amending the 2014-15 operating budget; it included $703,000 toward the purchase of Whiskey Island. 2) a resolution approving a “wage re-opener agreement” with the International Union of Operating Engineers; the agreement, which allows renegotiation of an ongoing union contract under certain conditions, is consistent with other agreements the county has with various unions. Ms. Simon voted no.
  • Passed unanimously on second reading under suspension of rules: 1) a routine and state-required resolution adopting the “annual tax budget.” 2) a resolution awarding KeyBank $962,829 for banking services; and 3) a resolution making awards totaling $832,000 to various providers of programs supporting the county’s Fatherhood Initiative—a program to help all fathers in the county and to strengthen their role in families.
  • Resolutions referred to committee following first reading: 1) increased funding for Playhouse Square streetscape improvements from $3.68 million to $4 million; 2) an award of $3 million to Terrace Construction Co. for sewer repairs; 3) an award of $240,000 to One Community for Internet service and fiber maintenance services for the period July 1, 2014, to Dec. 31, 2018; and 4) an award of about $3 million to various providers for Workforce Investment Act Youth Training for the period July 1, 2014, to June 30, 2015.
  • Ordinances referred to committee following first reading: 1) establishing a Social Impact Financing Fund to pay for contracts to improve outcomes and lower costs for contracted government services; Ms. Connally complained that she has listened carefully to explanations of this program and still couldn’t understand it; Mr. FitzGerald said at future committee meetings he would make sure the program was explained more clearly, but that it’s an innovative program that helps government agencies save money by using earlier intervention. 2) establishing procedures for setting the fee structure for sheriff’s department background checks; and 3) authorizing extension of the Capital Improvement Bed Tax shared with the City of Cleveland.

Cuyahoga County Council meeting, March 25

April 7th, 2014  |  Published in Uncategorized

County Council Regular Meeting: March 25, 201

Observers: Kathy Woodbridge & Mary Warren

This report contains member observations and selected highlights of a meeting of the Cuyahoga County Council and is not an official statement by any League of Women Voters in the county.  For the official disposition of all agenda items, consult the Cuyahoga County Council website at council.cuyahogacounty.us

  1. I.   Introduction

The meeting was called to order at 5:03 p.m. and adjourned at 6:15 p.m.  All members were present except Yvonne Conwell, who was excused.

II. Public Comments, Presentations & Announcements.

Anthony Liberatore, president of Laborers International Union of North America, Local 860, spoke in favor of a collective bargaining agreement covering approximately 13 employees in the Department of Health and Human Services/Division of Children and Family Services (IT). He said these workers are currently paid less than the going rate for their service, have not had a raise or cost-of-living adjustment in eight years and want “step wages” based on seniority. Joanna Lance, celebrating her 24th year as a worker in the Division of Children and Family Services, spoke about the many duties of the workers and their commitment to protecting children and nurturing the families in the care of Cuyahoga County. She asked for fair wages for their service.

The newly installed president of the Norman Minor Bar Association was honored for her achievement with a Council proclamation.

III. Business Transacted

       *  A long list of appointments, re-appointments and in-house business was passed under suspension of the rules.

       *  Two ordinances presented for first reading would incorporate changes to the Personnel Review Commission and the Cuyahoga County Debarment Review Board and were referred to committee.

       *  Under suspension of the rules the following passed:

— Additional money from General Fund and other sources for budgetary needs of various County departments;

— Funding to improve network connectivity services;

Rejection of the fact-finding report regarding negotiations with the Department of Health and Human Services/Division of Children and Family Services, and sending the issue back to negotiations

*  Referred to Committee:

Convention Center Hotel administrative and operating appropriations;

— Road resurfacing (yes, those potholes will be filled);

—  IT work;

— Bridge repairs;

— Communication systems.

—  An Ordinance amending the Cuyahoga County Code to establish payment procedures for charges collected for connection to County’s water and sewer facilities in County Sewer District No. 14

—  An Ordinance amending County Code to streamline the process for oaths and affirmations.

*  Second reading resolutions adopted under suspension of the rules:

—  Funding for a lease agreement with Euclid for a County Jail satellite facility in Euclid;

—  Payment from bond proceeds for temporary advances in connection with the development of the Convention Center Hotel;

—  An Elevator Modernization Project at the Board of Elections;

—  More road work, including a section of road that was last resurfaced in 1985;

—  Agreement with the MetroHealth System to provide healthcare and related services at the Cuyahoga County Correction Center (with kudos to Dr. Boutros for his leadership in making this agreement possible);

—  Awards to various providers for neighborhood collaborative services for the Family to Family Neighborhood System of Care Program;

—  Rapid re-housing services for men exiting prison;

—  Emergency shelter services for homeless men, women and families.

IV.  Notes:

The county Voting Rights ordinance proposed by Mr. FitzGerald and Council Member Simon was discussed by the Committee of the Whole last week and will be addressed at a second such session on Tuesday, April 1, at 2 p.m.  It was not presented at this meeting for second reading.

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