MAYOR BYRNE'S CITYVIEW
As fall begins and the winter months are quickly approaching, it's hard to believe that I have had the honor and priviledge of serving as your mayor for the past nine months.
Many changes have been implemented since the beginning of the year; some of which I will touch upon in this newsletter.
: Our nation's tough economic situation has affected all of us in some way. Our city's finances certainly have not been immune, as our Northeast Ohio region seems to be especially hard hit. The city's 2010 income tax revenues are projected to be $550,000 less than total collections in 2009; due simply to the fact that our residents and employees working in Parma Heights have had their income cut in response to the economic downturn. The County Auditor re-evaluated property values in 2009, resulting in a $400,000 reduction in property tax revenues to the city's General Fund in 2010. An additional reduction of almost $106,000 from other revenue sources is also projected for 2010; resulting in a total revenue reduction for 2010 of $1,056,000 in the General Fund.
In addition, rising employee benefit costs, such as medical insurance and workers' compensation changes, are contributing to continually rising expenditures. Unfortunately, our bi-weekly payroll cycle results in the occurrence of 27 payrolls in 2010, rather than the typical 26 pays per year. This unusual situation only occurs about every seventh year; and it dramatically increases the payroll costs for 2010. These revenue reductions and unavoidable expenditure increases have combined to result in a projected General Fund deficit of nearly $1,800,000 for 2010; making this year the most challenging time our city has faced.
We are now at a crossroad and can no longer accept business as usual. The past nine months have been consumed with finding ways to eliminate the looming deficit. Every decision being made has been budget driven. I have been working diligently with my Transition Team, Department Directors, and City Council to formulate a roadmap out of this financial black hole. Decisions have been difficult; and have required a change in thinking and reduction in expectations, while trying to preserve basic services. After much consideration such popular community events as the Memorial Day Parade, the Easter Egg Hunt, Weekend in the Commons and the Halloween event have been cancelled. The following changes have been instituted to reduce expenditures:
- Restructuring of Departmental Director positions.
- Permanently reducing Director salaries by an average of 13%
- Freezing the salaries of all employees.
- Reduction of non-union employee pay by 11% by instituting unpaid furlough time-off and elimination of other paid benefits.
- Reduction of seven full time positions through retirement, resignation or layoff.
- Reduction of Service Department pay by negotiating six unpaid furlough days and elimination or reduction of other paid benefits.
- Reduction of Police Department budget by $257,000 through concession negotiations.
- Reduction of Fire Department budget by $209,000 through concession negotiations.
- Transfer of $152,000 in Police and Fire expense to Safety Facilities/Equipment Fund.
- Review of contracts for services; resulting, for example, in a $36,000 reduction in insurance costs.
These budget reduction efforts in tandem with the charge for refuse/recycling collection enabled the city to adopt a 2010 budget in March that not only eliminated the projected deficit; but anticipates a year-ending General Fund balance of $75,000. Inasmuch as this level of ending balance is not adequate to carry operations into the new year, we are continuing to monitor expenditures on an ongoing basis to determine where additional cutbacks can be made. Fortunately, it appears that revenues may come in at a slightly greater level; sufficient at least to meet the first payroll in 2011.
As your Mayor, I feel that it is paramount to note that overcoming the 2010 financial crisis would not have been possible without the cooperation of you, the residents of Parma Heights, in accepting the refuse collection fee; which has been key to eliminating the projected deficit. I thank you for responding favorably to this community crisis.
The city has joined forces with the Cuyahoga County Information Services Center to offer our residents a new and improved 24-hour website. The website will be continually updated by our city departments bringing our residents the most current information available. Given our budgetary constraints, I do not anticipate producing an additional newsletter prior to year end.
RECREATION DEPARTMENT UPDATE:
Our Recreation Department is expanding, bringing new programs to our young residents as well as our senior residents. Details are available in the "Recreation" section of the newsletter and on our website.
NATURE IS YOUR NEIGHBOR IN PARMA HEIGHTS
Our parks truly are the gems of Parma Heights, particularly at this time of year as the leaves begin to change. Fall is the perfect time to take a walk through a park near your home but I encourage you to check out other parks in the city as well. Taking a walk is not only a great way to get some exercise and enjoy the breathtaking scenery but a wonderful chance to explore other neighborhoods within our town.
Did You Know?
Because of our city’s historical commitment to greenspace, nature is truly everyone’s neighbor in Parma Heights as nearly 90% of our residents have a park within a half-mile of their homes and nearly 50% have parks within a quarter-mile of their homes.
Contrast this to a finding that only about twenty percent of blocks (or about one-in-five homes in the United States) have parks within a half-mile of their boundaries according to a report released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta earlier this year.
The commitment to parks and recreation in Parma Heights has a long history, going back to the early 1950’s when a neighbor of a young Parma Heights Councilman named Paul Cassidy complained, “There’s nothing out here for kids!”, according to Heritage II, the city’s historical account which continues, “The work of developing recreation in Parma Heights involved not only conceiving a recreation master plan but even the purchase of land, parcel by parcel, to develop over 100 acres of City-owned parks.” With the passage of two Recreation Bond Issues early in the city’s history and continuing projects aimed at adding and upgrading greenspace within the city’s boundaries over the years, Parma Heights is a city where nature is just a short walk away from any residence.
Funding has been provided through the Cuyahoga County Department of Development, State Capital Requests, Ohio Department of Natural Resources and private companies, for parks and recreation projects and, according to Joseph E. Sebes, our Community & Economic Director, Parma Heights has obtained over $200,000 over the last five years alone for various city greenspace projects.
The Greenbrier Commons Multi-Purpose Walking Trail, completed in 2008, is a prime example of this type of funding being put to good use. Constructed in total with monies from a Community Development Block Grant, the help of Kaiser Permanente and a State Capital Request with the help of State Representative Mike Foley, the path located by the Cassidy Theatre and bordering the Metro Parks, is a beautiful space and offers a shaded opportunity for exercise on even the hottest day.
The greening of Parma Heights continues today with the Radlick Park Walking Trail Project. I encourage you to take a look at the Community & Economic Development column for more information on this exciting project that will connect the park with neighborhoods in the eastern portion of our city, adding another opportunity to enjoy the great outdoors right here in Parma Heights.
CHANGE IN POLING LOCATIONS
The Cuyahoga County Board of Elections has made changes in polling locations this year. It has come to our attention that the Board of Elections website DOES NOT have current information. If you do not vote by absentee ballot, check your mailboxes for postcards with your updated polling location information. The Board of Elections can be reached at 216 443-3200.
The City of Parma Heights is a community historically open and accessible to any and all persons without exception or exclusion. Our first Fair Housing Resolution was adopted in 1968 and in 1996, the City adopted a Fair Housing Ordinance which strengthened the original resolution.
The Fair Housing Ordinance provides for Fair Housing throughout the city, assuring that all persons have full and equal opportunity to consider all available housing for themselves and their families within the city without being discriminated against on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, ancestry, handicap, familial status or national origin and to promote a stable racially integrated community.
The Fair Housing Ordinance also established a Fair Housing Review Board to mediate any complaints of discriminatory housing practices.
For information, questions or concerns regarding Fair Housing within the City of Parma Heights, contact Joseph E. Sebes, Community & Economic Development Director at 440 884-9600 x32.
PARMA HEIGHTS LIBRARY MEETING
The Cuyahoga County Public Library held a meeting in the Parma Heights Council Chambers on Thursday, October 7, at 7:00 p.m. to discuss the relocation of the Parma Heights branch.
The City of Parma Heights was the first municipality in Ohio to pass a bond issue specifically for the construction of a library. This was done because, although the need was great, the library was “unable to incur the expense of construction a library,” according to Heritage II. That sounds simple enough but the story behind the scenes is much more involved.
“In 1960, the residents passed a $150,000 Bond Issue to construct a library in Parma Heights. Selling the bonds to provide the financing to construct the library required even more innovation. A change in the State Statutes at that time did not allow a City to own or operate a library. In order to avoid this pitfall, Mayor Cassidy convinced the Library Board to accept the building on a lease basis; providing that the County Library operate our branch library….but because this unique arrangement was so new, Bond counsel would not approve the construction bonds for public sale. This final hurdle was over come when the Mayor convinced the Boards of our own Pension Funds to purchase the bonds as an investment.” (excerpt from Heritage II) The entire process took nearly two years and forged new legal ground.
The Parma Heights Library is not just a building, it is a part of our history and the history of the State of Ohio.
I want to acknowledge and thank the residents of the City of Parma Heights, Congressman Dennis Kucinich and all concerned citizens who came to the Cuyahoga County Library Relocation Meeting at Parma Heights City Hall on Thursday, October 7, 2010, to show their passion, commitment and support of our Parma Heights Library Branch and to voice their concerns about the planned downsizing and/or relocation of our branch.
I know by the overwhelming number of phone calls to City Hall that many more would have attended if they were able or if our newsletter containing meeting information had reached every home in a timely fashion. However, there is still time to voice opposition to the current plans and I strongly encourage you to go online to cuyahogalibrary.org to state your concerns.
Our Parma Heights Library Branch was conceived and funded by the citizens of our town. So great was the determination of residents to have a full-service library in our community that the building and establishment of the Parma Height Branch required historic procedural precedent to be set in the State of Ohio to enable public libraries to operate in publicly-owned buildings. Other communities throughout the state have used our city’s plan as a template for the establishment of libraries in their neighborhoods.
With your continuing support, and the support of City Council, Congressman Kucinich, State Representative Mike Foley and State Representative Mike Skindell, I make a pledge to do everything in my power to convince the Cuyahoga County Public Library administration and board members to keep our historically significant, full-service Parma Heights Library Branch at its current location in the Greenbrier Commons.
IN CLOSING: I hope you find this newsletter to be informative and enlightening. As your Mayor, it is important to receive your feedback about city services and programs. Your opinions, suggestions and questions can be directed to my secretary, Sonya Buckles, at 440-884-9600 x15.
Thank you for your continued support of our great city!
Mike Byrne, Mayor
To go to the Mayor's Office page, please click here: Mayor's Office
COMMUNITY & ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
RADLICK PARK FITNESS TRAIL IMPROVEMENT PROJECT
To go to the Community & Economic Development page, please click here: Economic Development
Joseph E. Sebes, Director
In a continuing effort to provide beautiful parks and walking trails throughout our community and enhance property values, we are currently in the process of creating a 2,000 linear foot walking trail centered around ten acre Radlick Park located in the east- central portion of our city. Formerly known as Lexington Green, the park dates back to the 1950’s and has been in desperate need of renovation.
The city had been upgrading playground equipment in the park but, with a 2010 Community Development Parks and Recreation Grant, we are now able to complete the renovation of the park itself and add trails that will connect it to several neighborhoods in the area. As the city’s in-kind donation, required to obtain grant funding, our Service Department has been working to remove all the old play area sidewalks and tennis court bases at the southernmost portion of the park to create greenspace. The plan then calls for the paving of the existing gravel path and the extension of it south to create a pedestrian connector to Manorford Road and north to connect to the Radlick Park play area located at Ackley Road.
The Fitness Trail will include exercise stations and can be utilized for bicycling, running, or walking.
DONATE A TREE
The city wishes to thank Petitti Garden Centers for their generous donation of 20 Regal Prince oak trees for the Radlick Park Trail. In addition, two residents have already sponsored trees for the park. Anyone wishing to sponsor a tree for this site under our Memorial Tree Program, please contact Acting Service Director Michelle Teresi at 440 884-9607.
SHOP PARMA HEIGHTS
Looking for something? Click on the SHOP PARMA HEIGHTS link (found on both the Main Page and the Community & Economic Development page) for an easy to navigate complete listing of retail and service businesses in our community! Also, check Community & Economic Development for a listing a businesses new to the city in 2010!
MARKETING THE CITY
Fans of Star Trek – The Next Generation are familiar with Captain Jean-Luc Picard’s command, “Make it so”. Unfortunately, the retail areas along our major thoroughfares will not energize on command.
Many factors, economic as well as personal, come into play when trying to fit a business into an existing retail space but we are actively reaching out to owners of commercial spaces and prospective business owners in an attempt to bring them together.
Since my appointment as Community & Economic Development Director six months ago, we are committed to being business-friendly and we have begun to actively market the City of Parma Heights by:
- compiling a complete listing of existing vacant spaces (now accessible 24/7, with photos and contact information, on our updated website),
- contacting the strip and shop owners to see what assistance we can provide,
- reaching out to perspective business owners, and
- taking an active role in matching perspective owners with available funding, both government and private.
- working with existing business owners to acquire Storefront Renovation funding for property improvements and business expansions
- utilizing services provided by area banks and the County Department of Development to acquire loans for small businesses
Step by Step
- Initial contact with prospective business owners takes the form of a personalized marketing packet that relates their needs to the demographics, location and available spaces within the city and any other information that may make Parma Heights an attractive option.
- Follow up calls are made in a timely fashion in an effort to bring building owners and prospective business owners together.
- Additionally, all leads are followed in the continuing attempt to reenergize our business districts.
These efforts will take time as business decisions and loan agreements do not instantly respond to the command, “Engage.” If it were up to me, every storefront in Parma Heights would be filled now and I will not rest until that day comes - and I believe it will come.
Parma Heights is a city with a lot to offer business owners and we are working to get the word out to the business community. We have had tremendous response to our marketing efforts and packets and have facilitated the beginnings of several ventures in the last six months. Of course, not every venture will become reality but often an unsuccessful venture creates new connections that lead to bigger and better outcomes.
The dumpster is already full at the site of the old Pizza Hut on 130th Street as work has begun on the soon-to-be new DRAGON GATE CHINESE RESTAURANT. Owner May Lui anticipates opening before the end of the year.
GREENBRIER CROSSINGS UPDATE
Our city’s Law Department has been monitoring the legal activities associated with the Greenbrier Crossings property on the corner of W. 130th and Pearl Roads. On August 16, 2010, Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas Judge Deena R. Calabrese issued an Order in the Foreclosure Action that the property be placed for sale by the sheriff of Cuyahoga County. In November, 2010, court-appointed appraisers began the process of determining the value of the property for the Sheriff's Sale. The date for the Sheriff's Sale is anticipated for early 2011. We will actively continue to reach out to developers and institutions that might consider this property for development and keep them apprised of the date of the Sheriff’s Auction once it is determined.
SERVICE & BUILDING DEPARTMENT
To go to the Service & Building Department page, please click here: Service Department
Michelle Teresi, Acting Director
Leaf pick-up began the end of October. In an effort to improve efficiency, we have implemented a new system. Please watch for signs posted in your neighborhood to notify you that pick up should occur within the next week. Residents are asked to make arrangements to have their leaves brought to the curb in a timely fashion once the signs have been posted. It is our intent to make the pick-up sometime during the following week. However, we ask for your patience due to potential unforeseen problems, such as break downs or weather events that may delay the leaf removal process. The Service Department strives to pick up as many leaves as possible before snowfall. Your cooperation and understanding are greatly appreciated.
Due to safety concerns
, please remember that leaves are not permitted to be put in the street. Leaves mixed with rain or ice can cause hazardous road conditions. Our workers are instructed NOT to pick up leaves that are piled in the street. Any person piling leaves in the street is violating City Ordinance 965.08 Rules and Regulations. In addition, leaves that are mixed with grass, sticks, and other debris will not be picked up. This debris will cause damage to the equipment used for leaf pickup.
The Service Department page of the city website will be updated frequently with information regarding leaf pick up. Residents may also feel free to contact the Service Department at 440-884-9607 if there are any questions.
SNOW REMOVAL CONTRACTOR LICENSE
: The City of Parma Heights began requiring snowplow operators to be properly registered with the Service Department effective November 28, 2005. These regulations will once again be in effect for the upcoming snow removal season. Snowplow operators can obtain their registration at the Service Department located in the lower level of the Cassidy Theatre, 6200 Pearl Road in the Greenbrier Commons. We encourage all residents hiring a snow removal contractor to verity that he/she is property licensed with the city and is aware of snow removal regulations.
HOLIDAY REFUSE & RECYCLING SCHEDULE
CHRISTMAS DAY - Saturday, December 25 - NO DELAY
To go to the Recreation Department page, please click here: Recreation Department
Thomas Moran, Director
The Recreation Department, with the cooperation of the N.E.O. Soccer Facility, is offering new recreation opportunities for our senior citizen residents. Every Tuesday and Thursday from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. since November 2, the Recreation Department has offered, at no charge, Wii games, bocce ball, cornhole and ladder golf at the N.E.O. Soccer facility located in the Greenbrier Commons (6200 Pear Rd.). Free coffee is also provided during these times. Please bring a current utility bill as proof of residency. For transportation contact the Senior Center 440 888-4416.
PARMA HEIGHTS CITY COUNCIL
To go to the Parma Heights City Council page, please click here: City Council
NEW COUNCIL WARD SYSTEM UPDATE
At the May 4, 2010, Primary Election, residents of the City of Parma Heights voted to amend the City Charter to adopt a ward system to determine City Council representation. The new ward system provides for representation based on dividing the city into four wards. The number of City Council members will remain unchanged at a total of seven; with each new ward being representated by its own council person for a total of four ward council persons, and three members elected at-large to represent all residents.
The current City Council, at the recommendation of our City Law Department, has agreed to retain a consultant to undertake the process of determining ward boundaries. The first City Council election conducted under the new ward system will be the November 2011 General Election, at which time all seven council seats will be up for election. The newly elected Ward and At-Large Council Persons will take office on January 1, 2012.
We will continue to keep you updated on the progress and outcome of the ward creation process as it unfolds.
NOTE: This version of the CITYVIEW newsletter was updated November 30, 2010.