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- Confirmed the hire of Joseph E. Sinnott as the city administrator.
- Established salary schedules, position classifications and other compensation, and benefits for officers and employees of the City, notably raising the maximum wage available for seasonal workers to make City hiring more competitive.
- Authorized and approved the presentation of entertainment programs in Cain Park for the year 2022.
- Authorized the City to enter into a contract with Guidehouse Inc. for consulting services related to the use of American Rescue Plan Act State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funding.
- Authorized the City to enter into an agreement with the Home Repair Resource Center for the use of HOME Funds to administer the City’s Down Payment Assistance loan program.
- Made amendments to the 2022 budget.
- Passed a resolution condemning the Russian Federation’s military invasion of Ukraine and expressing support for Ukraine.
Committee of the Whole
Council President Melody Hart called the meeting to order. The Clerk of Council called roll. Present: Hart, Cobb, Moore, Cuda, Mattox, Larson.
Agenda Item 4: Executive Session to consider the terms of a sale or lease of City-owned real property and to consider the terms of a purchase of real property for public purposes
Council President Melody Hart moved the fourth agenda item to the top of the meeting. Council Vice President Craig Cobb moved to go into executive session. Councilmember Gail Larson seconded. Council went into executive session.
Council exited Executive Session at 6:54.
Agenda Item 1: Legislation Review/Caucus
Mayor Seren said that the administration was asking for only a first reading for Resolution 030-2022, proclaiming April 11–15, 2022 to be National Community Development Week.
For Resolution 031-2022, authorizing the Mayor to enter into an agreement with the Home Repair Resource Center, a non-profit corporation, for the use of HOME Funds to administer the City’s Down Payment Assistance loan program, the Mayor requested a vote on first reading. Councilmember Larson asked the City to promote this program and the HRRC more; Mayor Seren agreed.
For Ordinance 025-2022, establishing salary schedules, position classifications and other compensation, and benefits for officers and employees of the City, Law Director Bill Hanna reviewed the amended salary schedules, which increased the maximum hourly wage for seasonal positions to make the City more competitive and be able to offer fairer wages. In response to a question from Council Vice President Cobb about whether these are high enough to be competitive, the Mayor stated that if these are not yielding the staff the City needs, they administration will come back to Council to amend and raise the hourly wages again.
The Mayor reviewed Ordinance 026-2022, on second reading, authorizing and approving the presentation of entertainment programs in Cain Park for the year 2022. He then reviewed Resolution 032-2022, proclaiming April 2022 to be National Poetry Month; Resolution 033-2022, proclaiming April 3–9, 2022 to be National Library Week; Resolution 034-2022, proclaiming April 2022 to be Autism Awareness Month and April 2, 2022 to be World Autism Awareness Day; Resolution 035-2022, joining with HUD and other communities throughout the nation in the observation of April as Fair Housing Month—all on first readings only. Council President Hart requested that these four resolutions be put in a consent agenda at the next regularly scheduled Council meeting (April 4) when they are up for passage; Law Director Hanna agreed.
Mayor Seren deferred discussion of Resolution 029-2022, authorizing the Mayor to execute a contract with Guidehouse Inc. for consulting services related to the use of American Rescue Plan Act State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funding, as someone from Guidehouse would be presenting later in the meeting.
Mayor Seren then turned to Ordinance 036-2022, relating to budget appropriations. Finance Director Amy Himmelein reviewed the budget amendments (as laid out on page 70 of the Council packet). One expenditure was to pay for councilmembers to attend a municipal officers training offered by the Ohio Municipal League (which we attended Saturday, March 26), and another was to pay for facilities equipment (alarms and doorbells) needed for the fire and police departments for compatibility with the City’s upgraded phone system. The final amendment was offset by a grant.
Councilmember Larson stated that because she does not have updated information on the City’s unencumbered funds, she will need to abstain. Law Director Hanna stated that in Cleveland Heights does not allow abstentions, only affirmative or negative votes or recusals.
Mayor Seren then reviewed Ordinance 037-2022, authorizing all actions necessary to accept Northeast Ohio Public Energy Council 2022 Energized Community Grant(s) Funds. Councilmember Josie Moore asked what the funds would be paying for; Finance Director Himmelein stated that the City has not yet decided what projects they would be going toward and that once the City accepts the funds, then they can begin defining which projects to execute with them. Mayor Seren initially requested this be voted on that evening, but he then withdrew that request; it will be voted on at second reading on April 4.
Finally, Council reviewed Resolution 038-2022, condemning the Russian Federation’s military invasion of Ukraine and expressing support for Ukraine. Mayor Seren stated that if Council would like to vote on first reading, Council will need to suspend the rules to do so, as there is no language “declaring an emergency” which enable passage on first reading. Council agreed it should be passed on first reading.
Agenda Item 2: Lead Safe Legislation, Ordinance 78-2021 (first reading was June 21, 2021)
Mayor Seren reviewed this legislation that he had introduced in 2021 while he was a councilmember. This legislation came up again during the Committee of the Whole meeting of February 28 in response to a conversation about encouraging residents to change their voter registration information when moving in Cleveland Heights, and Mayor Seren noted that a provision of this lead-safe legislation would change the city code to require landlords to notify the City of a change in occupancy within 30 days, and this could help the City better communicate with people after they move.
This lead-safe legislation would require income-producing residential properties (rental housing) to be certified as lead-safe. Councilmember Larson asked whether there was pushback when he introduced it in 2021; the Mayor Seren stated that he recalls no pushback. The Mayor stated that it mirrors Cleveland’s legislation, but there are differences because Cleveland has its own department of health and we do not; otherwise it is largely the same.
Councilmember Moore asked whether it was rental properties only or if it includes daycare facilities; the Mayor stated that it does not include daycare facilities and that if Council would like to add them, they would need to amend the legislation or introduce separate legislation after passing this legislation.
Council Vice President Cobb requested that this legislation be referred to committee and that there be a public hearing, where Council would invite landlords and lead inspectors to speak on the matter. Cobb also asked whether the City has funds to assist landlords with lead remediation or if the City can establish a low-interest loan program for them. Mayor Seren stated that the Cleveland model demonstrated that access to funding is not available until the regulation is in place. He said that the City can set a certain date for the legislation to be effective, and between passage and taking effect the City can access funding for lead-remediation-assistance, such as funds from Lead-Safe Cleveland. Once the City puts in place a regulation requiring lead remediation, funding sources will be accessible.
Councilmember Larson asked who would administer this program, as we do not have a health department; Mayor Seren responded that our board of health is the County’s Board of Health, which is referenced in the legislation, as is the City’s Building Commissioner. The City’s Division of Building and Inspectional Services would administer on the city level.
Councilmember Moore asked whether we will have the staff and resources to administer the program. Mayor Seren said the administration of the program would not begin immediately and that we would establish a timeline for the implementation of the requirement on landlords, noting that Cleveland also created a timeline to phase in the implementation. He also noted that the lead testing and remediation would be done by private lead assessor and contractors, and therefore these services would not require additional staff. Additionally, the funding to train a critical mass of these inspectors and contractors would be available upon passage of the legislation, and the need to train is one reason why the City would create an extended timeline for implementation, so as to train people for these services.
Other funding the City would seek would help pay for the assessments and to provide low-interest loans for the remediation. This funding may come from philanthropic or public sources; it could also come from ARPA funds. Mayor Seren also noted that lead poisoning in children and results in long-term costs in other areas and stated that lead hazards are a public health problem with a housing solution.
Council agreed that the Public Health and Safety Committee (chaired by Councilmember Larson) will hold a public hearing on the issue, inviting landlords and lead assessors as well as representatives from Lead Safe Cleveland.
Before moving on to the Guidehouse presentation, Council President Hart and Councilmember Moore rescheduled the Municipal Services meeting for March 28 at 4:30pm, as the meeting earlier that evening was not able to achieve quorum.
Council President Hart and Councilmember Cobb discussed working sessions for council committee meetings; Cobb was concerned whether these would burden the staff, but staff said that providing video coverage for working sessions was not an issue for them.
Agenda Item 3: Guidehouse Presentation (David Matusoff, Guidehouse Director, State and Local Government)
Council watched a presentation via Zoom from David Matusoff, the director for state and local government for Guidehouse, a consulting firm the City would like to work with to aid in programming assistance and compliance for the City’s ARPA funds. (The presentation begins around 39:11 in the video.) The presentation established their credibility, the scope and depth of their services, and that they have never had any client have funds clawed back from the federal government for noncompliance.
Council President Hart then adjourned the meeting.
City Council Meeting
Council President Hart called the meeting called to order.
The Clerk of Council called the roll: Present: Hart, Cobb, Russell, Moore, Cuda, Mattox, Larson. The Clerk of Council confirmed there is a quorum.
Hart then opened personal communications from our citizens on topics relating to agenda items only. The Clerk of Council announced that no residents had signed up to speak on agenda items. Council President Hart then closed public comments on agenda items.
Council President Hart called for Communications from the Mayor. Mayor Kahlil Seren announced:
- The Mayor will be attending the State of the State address on Wednesday, March 23, with State Representative Janine Boyd.
- The Mayor extended thanks to Police Chief Annette Mecklenburg upon her upcoming retirement for her years of service to our City and announced that he will be swearing in Captain Chris Britton as our new chief on April 4. Council President Hart asked whether there will be an event honoring her retirement; the Mayor stated that he would want to presume that she would be interested in such an event.
- The Mayor requested permission to bid project #22-04–2022 Hot-In-Place Asphalt Recycling Project. Council voted yes. It was made a matter of record and referred to the Municipal Services Committee.
Council President Hart called for Report of the Clerk of Council; Clerk of Council Himmelein had nothing to report.
For the Planning and Development Committee, Councilmember Anthony Mattox presented the following legislation.
- Resolution 030-2022: First Reading Only. A Resolution proclaiming April 11-15, 2022 to be National Community Development Week; and declaring the necessity that this Resolution become immediately effective as an emergency measure.
- Resolution 031-2022: First Reading. A Resolution authorizing the Mayor to enter into an agreement with the Home Repair Resource Center, a non-profit corporation, for the use of HOME Funds to administer the City’s Down Payment Assistance loan program; providing compensation therefor; and declaring the necessity that this Resolution become immediately effective as an emergency measure. Passed 6–0.
For the Public Safety and Health Committee, Councilmember Gail Larson had no legislation to present and nothing to report.
For the Administrative Services Committee, Council Vice President Cobb then presented the following legislation.
- Resolution 024-2022: Second Reading. A Resolution confirming the Mayor’s appointment of Joseph E. Sinnott, upon his taking the oath of office, as City Administrator for the City of Cleveland Heights; and declaring the necessity that this Resolution become immediately effective as an emergency measure. Passed 6–0.
- Ordinance 025-2022: Second Reading. An Ordinance establishing salary schedules, position classifications and other compensation, and benefits for officers and employees of the City; and declaring an emergency. Passed 6–0.
For the Community Relations and Recreation Committee, Councilmember Josie Moore presented the following legislation.
- Ordinance 026-2022: Second Reading. An Ordinance authorizing and approving the presentation of entertainment programs in Cain Park for the year 2022. Passed 6–0
- Resolution 032-2022: First Reading Only. A Resolution proclaiming April 2022 to be National Poetry Month; and declaring the necessity that this Resolution become immediately effective as an emergency measure.
- Resolution 033-2022: First Reading Only. A Resolution proclaiming April 3–9, 2022 to be National Library Week; and declaring the necessity that this Resolution become immediately effective as an emergency measure.
- Resolution 034-2022: First Reading Only. A Resolution proclaiming April 2022 to be Autism Awareness Month; and April 2, 2022 to be World Autism Awareness Day; and declaring the necessity that this Resolution become immediately effective as an emergency measure.
- Resolution 035-2022: First Reading Only. A Resolution joining with HUD and other communities throughout the nation in the observation of April as Fair Housing Month; reaffirming the City of Cleveland Heights’ commitment to open housing; and declaring the necessity that this Resolution become immediately effective as an emergency measure.
For the Finance Committee, Council President Hart presented the following legislation.
- Resolution 029-2022: Second Reading. A Resolution authorizing the Mayor to execute a contract with Guidehouse Inc. for consulting services related to the use of American Rescue Plan Act State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funding; and declaring the necessity that this Resolution become immediately effective as an emergency measure. Passed 6–0
- Ordinance 036-2022: First Reading. An ordinance to amend certain subparagraphs of Ordinance No. 139-2021 (F), relating to appropriations and other expenditures of the City of Cleveland Heights, Ohio for the fiscal year ending December 31, 2022 and declaring an emergency. Passed 6–0
For the Housing and Building Committee, Councilmember Tony Cuda had no legislation to present. He announced that the committee will be meeting for a working session on Wednesday at 9:00am to discuss vacant and abandoned properties and nuisance abatement. This working session will be available on YouTube and all are welcome to attend.
For the Municipal Services Committee, Councilmember Josie Moore announced that the Municipal Services meeting that was to be held earlier that evening needed to be rescheduled, so it will now be held Monday, March 28, at 4:30pm. Moore then presented the following legislation.
- Ordinance 037-2022: First Reading Only. An Ordinance authorizing all actions necessary to accept Northeast Ohio Public Energy Council 2022 Energized Community Grant(s) Funds; and declaring an emergency.
For the Committee of the Whole, Councilmember Josie Moore presented the following legislation. Before moving for passage, she moved to move the suspend the second reading (because there is not language that it is “declaring an emergency” it cannot be passed on a first reading without suspending the rules); Council passed the move to suspend the second reading.
- Resolution 038-2022: First Reading. A Resolution condemning the Russian Federation’s military invasion of Ukraine and expressing support for Ukraine. Passed 6–0
Hart then opened personal communications from our citizens on topics not relating to agenda items. The Clerk of Council announced residents who had signed in to speak.
- One resident announced the activities of the Heights Tree People, stating they are entering their fourth year, and in their first three years they planted 671 trees in the Heights area. She also announced that on Arbor Day, Friday, April 29, there will be a tree-planting ceremony at the Community Center, and there will be a tree giveaway for people to plant trees in their backyards. The Heights Tree People are also working with Start Right to plant more trees along Nelaview. She then reminded everyone that the Heights Tree People plant trees in people’s yards for free.
- One resident offered congratulations to the community for earning the right to vote on Issue 9. She urged residents to contact People for the Park for yard signs or to make a donation.
- One resident urged that City Hall be reopened soon.
Councilmember Larson announced that the Public Safety and Health Committee will be scheduling a public hearing on tentative lead-safe legislation, including people from Lead-Safe Cleveland, landlords, daycare centers, and residents. Also, on April 18 there will be Public Safety and Health Committee meeting.
Councilmember Cuda announced that the Commission on Aging needs members. If anyone is interested, they can apply online or email any Council members and they will direct them to the application.
Councilmember Josie Moore again announced that there will be a special City Council meeting on Monday, March 28 in honor and celebration of Women’s History Month, where Council will honor five amazing women of Cleveland Heights, chosen from those nominated by fellow residents. Moore also said that the Cleveland Heights Green Team is hosting or facilitating a series of events in April to celebrate Earth Month, including:
- A calendar full of neighborhood cleanups and other events
- A Sustainability Fair organized with the Heights Libraries at Coventry P.E.A.C.E. Park on April 23
- A forum on sustainability organized with FutureHeights on April 27
Councilmember Anthony Mattox addressed resident questions about Council resolutions on issues such as Medicare for All and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, stating that we are a city that stands up for what is right and that doing so is never a waste of time or resources.
Council President Hart reminded residents that Cleveland Heights does not have a ward system for our Council and that all councilmembers are at-large and represent all residents. In addition, on April 2 Council will be holding a Council retreat, which will be available on YouTube. She then welcomed Mr. Joseph Sinnott as our first city administrator.
Council President Hart then adjourned the meeting.