Committee Chair Ms. Vaughn opened the meeting at approximately 6:00 p.m. Members of the Committee in attendance were Ms Vaughn, Ms. DePledge and Mr. Licht. Present from Council were Mr. Hoefle, Mrs. Quinn-Hopkins, Mr. Evers and Council President D’Ambrosio.
In attendance from the Administration were Mayor Morley, Finance Director Slocum, Service Director Rubertino, CBO McReynolds, Police Chief Reik and Fire Chief Whittington. Law Director Mr. Klammer was late in arriving.
Also in attendance were members of the public.
Ms. Vaughn: Tonight’s meeting is basically on financial matters. I want to make it perfectly clear that Council understands that we cannot tell you how to spend the money in your Department. We cannot tell you to reduce it or increase it – that is entirely up to you. You run it. Tonight’s main purpose is to try to have everyone think together about any options we may come up with – working together to get us down to a balanced budget because we are mandated by law to have a balanced budget by the end of the year. No one is on the spot to cut their budget. We are just trying to come up with some alternate ways. And I am sure you thought it over and over and over and Council is going to ask you to think it over one more time and we will refer it initially to the Mayor and Finance Director.
LEASE AGREEMENT: CITY OF EASTLAKE & WILLOUGHBY/EASTLAKE SCHOOL DISTRICT: JFK CENTER (TAFT SCHOOL)
Ms. Vaughn: Mr. Slocum?
Mr. Slocum: We used the last contract as a guide. Mostly everything that was in the last contract is in this one. We adjusted the terms. I spoke with the Superintendant who is comfortable with this. I ran this past the Mayor and Law Director and they are comfortable with it. It gives us another 10 years of using the Senior Center at the cost of $1 per year.
Ms. DePledge: Are we going to be able to afford to keep it open for the next 10 years? Do we want to get into a 10 year lease if we are not going to have the money to keep the facility open?
Mr. Slocum: There are outs for us in case we want to walk away from the property.
Mr. D’Ambrosio: Regarding the insurance. They pay for the property against fire, etc. and we are responsible for liability, death and injury?
Mr. Slocum: Yes. And we are responsible for our own contents which we cover through NORMA.
Mr. D’Ambrosio: With the alterations – what was the cost of the generator?
Mr. Slocum: It is coming in a little under $25,000.
Mr. D’Ambrosio: It says that alterations, additions, repairs and improvements are reimbursable with prior written approval? Should we get prior written approval on that?
Mr. Slocum: I think the stuff that will be reimbursable is if the School District wants it for the building. Things that we are looking to occur in the building will not be reimbursable. They are not looking to create any additional expense for themselves. In the event we hit another monstrosity of expense – if we decide we want to continue to lease there we will be responsible but if we decide that the cost of the repair is something we do not want to do then we have the ability to walk away from the deal. They are comfortable with this. This lease is going before the School Board next Monday for their approval.
Mrs. Quinn-Hopkins: Under #3 Term and Termination – it says that the lessor may terminate the lease at the end of the basic term or any extension; provided if and when it determines that – the property is needed for Willoughby-Eastlake public school purposes by the Board of Education or the property is sold. That sounds like it is all their choice whether or not it is terminated.
Mr. Slocum: Yes, they can only it at the end of the term – not midterm.
Mrs. Quinn-Hopkins: It does not appear that we have the choice to terminate – the way that is written.
Mr. Slocum: #3 gives them their right to walk away from the lease.
Ms. Vaughn: Where does it give us our right?
Mr. Slocum: If we don’t pay the rent we walk away from the lease.
Mrs. Quinn-Hopkins: Does that mean they would evict us? We don’t want to be evicted.
Mayor Morley: Item B requires written notice.
Mr. Slocum: If the concern is that we want to close the building and no longer have a Senior Center – our cost is $1 per year – we do not have to keep a Senior Center in there if we choose not to. It is really a nothing cost to the City.
Mrs. Quinn-Hopkins: Obviously, it is not the rental cost but the utilities and other expenses.
Mr. Slocum: We could mothball the building. If we were to not operate a Senior Center we would draim the pipes – the only thing you may have is some security expense.
Mrs. Quinn-Hopkins: What if we were to sub lease it?
Mr. Slocum: We are already doing some subleasing.
Mrs. Quinn-Hopkins: We could do that and possibly make a profit.
Ms. Vaughn: Just so we make it perfectly clear in the minutes – we have not discussed closing the Senior Center. That has not been brought up for discussion to my best knowledge.
Mr. Slocum: We are trying to make this lease run in calendar years instead of from March to April.
There were no further questions or comments. The Committee agreed to move this matter forward.
Mr. Klammer joined the meeting at this time.
AMENDED AGREEMENT: PRESRITE CORPORATION: TAX INCENTIVE GRANT
Ms. Vaughn: Mr. Slocum?
Mr. Slocum: Council and Administration have a decision to make. If we want to hold their feet to the fire on the agreement we could say it is null and void and we owe nothing going forward. However, you are dealing with a company that has brought in $1.7 million last year in new payroll and they are on track to bring in over $3.5 million this year and meet the rest of their agreement. It is the Administration’s opinion that we should be putting our solid foot forward. Here is a company that was slow to make the transition to the Eastlake property and are now running – based on their first two payroll months of the year – over a $3.5 million run rate for this year. It looks like they will be able to make everything. What this amendment does is we will pay them instead of 50% for the first year – 30% immediately and next year if they make the $3.5 million we would then give them the other 10% for the first year. It is telling a company we want you and when we enter into an agreement with you we are not looking for the first way we can weasel out of it. We strongly recommend Council approve this change.
Ms. Vaughn: I concur. We will work with this company continually to keep them happy here in Eastlake.
Mayor Morley: They are very happy that we are willing to work with them.
Ms. Vaughn: Let them know that Council is willing to work with them as well as the Administration.
There were no questions or comments. The Committee agreed to move this matter forward.
Ms. Vaughn: We are not here to cut people’s budgets but to talk with everyone about ways we can meet our obligations. Right now things look much brighter than they did two weeks ago. Now the expected fund balance is down to a negative $28,859.02 – considerably less than the $185,000 and $300,000 it was for a while. You must have all worked hard already to get it down.
Mr. Slocum: The one, big thing we identified today we are in fact going to have one personnel cut in the Service Department where Mr. Semik’s replacement looks like it will come from within.
Mayor Morley: There are two interviews Thursday.
Mr. Slocum: We believe if that does come it will set off a chain reaction of people moving up. The bottom line is we will discontinue one laborer position which will save $50,000 off the budget. The other thing we identified today is with the State Audit which gives us the ability to take some of the audit cost and push it to other funds. Based on the total expenditure we will move a portion of the cost to Street Construction Maintenance and Repair and the Sewer Fund. In the Sewer Fund we are talking $4,300 and $1,700 in the other. We will still be hitting about $40,000 in the General Fund. It was like a $6,000 save. We believe we will have this closed shortly.
Ms. Vaughn: Will we be able to vote on it by the end of the month?
Mr. Slocum: Yes.
Ms. Vaughn: That is our goal.
Mayor Morley: There are other funds. We met with Soil Conservation – their bill is $3,000 and we can move it to the sewer fund. We checked into the Watershed bill of $8,000 to see if we can use that fund for that also.
Ms. Vaughn: Has Mr. Klammer come to a decision on the recreation fund?
Mayor Morley: I just gave it to him yesterday.
Ms. Vaughn: The Council Clerk and I had a discussion about the budget and about some of the funds that were questioned. There are two funds that deal with land acquisition and recreation and recreation improvement. One fund has never been used and was to have been used for $100 for every new business built. It is not a lot but we don’t know how much should have gone into this fund that went into the other fund. The other started out at $50 per lot for every new house and ended up being $100 per lot for every new house and it ended up that we had over $200,000 in the fund. There is no land to acquire for recreation in the City. It was originally established because we were going to purchase the property where Sunset Cove is – we received a grant for it. But, the Administration did not accept that grant because they could not come up with the money for the necessary improvements. So, the grant was turned down and the property was sold to a developer. That was the original intent. I tried to think of land that we could acquire for recreation and what we would do with it if we got it and could not come up with a reasonable solution. So we examined the fund and referred it to Mr. Klammer – since it was established by ordinance and Council changes ordinances perhaps we could change these ordinance. But I am sure there is some maneuvering behind the scenes that Mr. Klammer may be more aware of then me. It would be nice to have the $200,000.
Mr. Klammer: The theory is at least reasonable. What I have to solidify for myself is there is a lot of loss around development impact fees and it would amount to a taking if not related to the purpose or extra burden new development places on a community. In that process if I can find that maintenance personnel would be sufficient I will be comfortable saying we can do it now.
Ms. Vaughn: Thank you. We will keep that on the back burner but that is something. I will give Mrs. Cendroski credit because she brought it to my attention and we started to research it. I do not want to take the credit that someone else came up with. Now, you all know where we are at and have the opportunity to ask questions and make comments – Mr. D’Ambrosio?
Mr. D’Ambrosio: Mr. Slocum, at the last meeting when we left we figured we were at $165,000 in deficit and I see that today we are at $28,000. I know $50,000 was from Service – what were some of the other big chunks that were taken out of that?
Mayor Morley: First we went from six summer help to three and then I had him remove the other three – that was another $30,000.
Ms. Vaughn: No summer help?
Mayor Morley: My thought is – and after Mr. Klammer looks at it – if that $200,000 can be used for parks upkeep then I will probably only take enough for three. I spoke with Mr. Slocum about some of the playground equipment we need to update. We will not use it all. We have money in other accounts to fix the skate board park. In Service with eliminating the laborer and if the move ups occur I think it will satisfy the Department. We have been running without the extra person and I am not saying we are doing well but it is what it is at this point instead of adding on someone and then possibly having to lay someone off in a few months – it makes sense to just leave it off until we find out if we can get better.
Mr. Slocum: Mr. D’Ambrosio, we took any of the wage increases that were previously on the board and those are now gone. The roof on this building is gone. We lowered the final salary cash in to $125,000 which was budgeted for $150,000. It is still a safe number. If it goes as expected we probably have $25,000 more in that fund than what we actually need. That is carrying nothing and that is not a good budget practice to follow. We had savings on hospital and dental, PERS – we had a portion of the Police and Fire wages where their vacation cash-ins were incorrectly coded in my system that we were going to pay pension on those and we are not paying pension on the vacation cash-in – so, there was a savings there. Some of it adds up substantially. In the case of Fire it was a $19,000 savings. We did away with the part-time people in Building Department and the part-time people in Service.
Mr. D’Ambrosio: Last time we were originally at $368,000 and when we left the meeting we were at $165,000 and now we are at $28,000 – a difference of $136,000.
Mayor Morley: We will still get an estimate on the roof – we may have to change it. We will get it looked at and see if we can do it in portions.
Ms. Vaughn: It is 20 years old – the building has not been maintained through no fault of ours.
Mayor Morley: We are looking into the law suit regarding the shingle issue we had. If we can get that it will cover a lot of cost.
Ms. Vaughn: I will open the floor to the Directors and ask for comments from each – can you get by with what you have? I know you all have wish list – we are aware of them and we have had them every year. Unfortunately it has never worked out to everyone’s satisfaction. The Fire Department did submit capital improvement information – we will not discuss that tonight but later as a single issue. We will start with Mr. Slocum – the Finance Department and Tax Department. What have you cut? I don’t see any additional cuts but I am sure you have made some cuts.
Finance Department/Tax Department
Mr. Slocum: I think we are trying to keep things relatively the same as last year – cut wise. One of the issues we have in the Finance Department is we have another long term illness we are trying to work through and that is hampering us even being able to consider other options. I believe we operating pretty bare-bones to where we can operate today.
Ms. Vaughn: Are the new computers included in the budget?
Mr. Slocum: Yes, we are going forward to start the replacement of those because they all have to be in by April 7th – that is in line item #240.5407 Other Contracts. We spent $54,000 last year and are budgeting $38,000 and if it was not for the computers that line item would have been down another $20,000 or so.
Ms. Vaughn: That includes the backup system?
Mr. Slocum: that was paid for last year.
There were no questions or comments.
Chief Reik: We lost Officer Lewis in January and due to some things outside of our control we have not hired his replacement yet. We are working with the new Civil Service to try to get it on track. This is an unexpected, unwanted savings because having the extra guy down creates scheduling issues. If a guy puts in for vacation that would normally cause overtime we switch other people’s schedules. Things stay pretty constant – we had an armed robbery last night. We have been reasonably fortunate with any employee long term health situation and investigation wise. Most of our calls were resolved quickly and did not require tons of follow up and Court time. I did not come up with any big wish list. I have worked with Mr. Rubertino on getting some things painted and things done when his guys have some down time during the few days between snows. I am confident that by spring we should get most of those things done. There will always be something at each place.
Ms. Vaughn: Will the garage doors be fixed this year?
Mr. Slocum: The money is included in the budget.
Ms. Vaughn: I am glad you are maintaining that building.
Chief Reik: If you have not been to the Fire Department – there is work being done over there with the new floors – for a reasonable cost. It may be putting a new dress on an ugly bride but I think it really helps with employee wellness.
Ms. Vaughn: It speaks well for the City – putting a new face on the City. It is important.
Mayor Morley: Civil Service is meeting on Thursday. Hopefully they will get some names. We met with the new Civil Service Commission so they can get a list so we can move forward.
There were no further questions or comments.
Mr. Rubertino: I honestly cannot give you much because I can only go on what I have seen. I am not familiar with it to any great deal other than what I have talked to the Mayor and Mr. Slocum on. I do not have much I can add. We are at bare minimum.
Ms. Vaughn: I agree.
Mr. Rubertino: I cannot offer any options even if I had the ability to do so.
Ms. Vaughn: Do you anticipate any great need of any new equipment that is not in the budget?
Mr. Rubertino: I think with what we have projected and what repairs we have budgeted for we can live within our means.
Ms. Vaughn: Is the new mechanic working out?
Mr. Rubertino: The new mechanic is working out.
Ms. Vaughn: I realize losing a person will make it more difficult – we all accept it. If there is anything we can do we will try to do so.
Mr. Rubertino: To add someone on and then have to let them go in a few months would be terrible. I agree with that aspect. I think that hurts all of us.
There were no further questions or comments.
Mr. McReynolds: Mr. Slocum mentioned earlier that $20,000 was taken out of our budget which would have covered a part-time property maintenance person.
Ms. Vaughn: We did not have one last year.
Mr. McReynolds: Bringing someone on like that is not a one year thing. You hope you will be able to train them and hope in the future you will be able to offer them a full time position. I am turning into something of an efficiency expert looking for ways we can streamline our process to reduce paperwork and make things move smoother so there is less waste. But I do not know if we have much more room to move – we are pretty close right now. But, I do intend to expand the duties of the inspectors to get a property maintenance program this year – in house and try to get some success out of that.
There were no questions or comments.
Chief Whittington: I think as far as being able to operate in the budget presented that I can make that work. I don’t have much choice other than to make it work. As far as some of the things that are happening – I cannot get into it too deep here. We are in negotiations with the Fire Union and because of the initial track we are taking we will have some cost savings this year to the City and potentially next year also. I think having that for this year was important and I think the Union was also supportive of that.
Ms. Vaughn: They have always worked with us.
Chief Whittington: I can say publically how proud I am of the things they have done and what they have presented especially with the condition of the City. We still, as employees, are without raises and paying money back. Even with that they have done something I can be proud of as can the Administration. I am being very flexible with the Fire Levy. The ambulance billing – even though the ordinance dictates that it be used for something else – we have strictly been using that for salaries which has taken almost a half million burden off the City. Not being able to use that half million for the purpose it is for puts us at a disadvantage. I understand that is what needs to be done – it is not a complaint other than the fact that I remain dedicated to keep doing what I can to fill in the blanks where I can. I know we are not discussing the capital improvements. Those are the items that will represent anything that will come to you over $12,500. We still have painting but things like that represent smaller costs below $12,500. This includes things that must be brought to you for consideration.
There were no questions or comments.
Mr. Klammer: You know the budget is basically the Prosecutor and me. Mr. Slocum and I talked today that there is hopes the negotiations will go a little more smoothly than they did the last couple of times. This is a real savings because we had budgeted a number for Clemons/Nelson. We talked loosely about how much of that I could take over which takes it out of the budget as an expense item. Strategically, some I may or may not take over because it is not something I do full time. There may be some benefit to having Clemons/Nelson do it. Things seem to be going well. I don’t know if Mr. Slocum had taken the funds for negotiations out of the budget yet?
Mr. Slocum: No.
Mr. Klammer: I will have to ask the Mayor how he wants to handle negotiations coming up. The other part is salaries and benefits for the Prosecutor and me. I spoke with the Mayor and Mr. Slocum about the benefit packages. I am trying to avoid anything by finding other savings – like in the Tax Department for our collections people but that is a net benefit to the City – there is not a cost component. I have been doing the arbitrations and if I can take over the negotiations.
Ms. Vaughn: Just so you all know we appreciate everyone’s efforts. We know you have looked it over and tried to cut and change. All I will ask is if any of you can think of ways to raise more money – let’s not just talk about cutting the budget – let’s talk about raising money. Can you look at the fees or the fines? Do you have any friends that own businesses? Do you talk to the business owner’s here? I am sure you have interaction with a lot of them and sometimes a conversation with them will spark some interest on expansion or retention or a comparable business that can match with it and share that with the Mayor and whoever he decides can develop leads. Please share your thoughts with all of us – we will work with anyone if we can.
Mayor Morley: On the part about trying to get new businesses and more revenue instead of cuts. I have a meeting next week – which I invited Ms. Vaughn to – with the Lake County. Mr. Slocum and I met with one of the Lake County Commissioners on a few subjects and if we can work with them. Right now the costs don’t seem to be lining up that we would save any money. The Chiefs are meeting with the County on Friday. I have asked for a meeting with the Commissioners on one thing regarding the bed tax and our belief that we are still owed $114,000 – that we did not collect the full amount. I am working with Mr. Rubertino to get the Visitors’ Bureau cleaned up and painted so we can advertise for that. I have been given a rough estimate of $800 per month to rent the Visitor’s Bureau which has been empty since last June. I asked Mr. Klammer and Mr. Slocum to talk with LakeTran about getting some money for being at the stadium. Everything was tied into grants and they have all run out. We cannot continue with people being there for free. We are meeting with the Fire Union tomorrow and hoping in the next week or so to come to you for discussion in Executive Session and with a contract for approval. We are meeting with AFSCME and have had some discussions with the Police. We are meeting with AFSCME and Fire tomorrow. We are looking for the best on that. If we can get some settlements we can save some money from the legal fees. That should get us into the positive. I commend all the Directors. Everyone has been working and looking at it together. No one is happy. I am not happy with all the cuts we have to continue to make. As Chief Whittington says we are one big company away. I spoke with the gentleman who is the broker from WalMart because I heard a rumor of a company that another City turned away. I am having them check with the company and am looking for contacts of another company. I spoke with the Western Lake County Chamber of Commerce today – we can do a link of all our vacant properties and they will place them on their web site. Everything is baby steps and it is a work in progress.
Ms. Vaughn: Council, if you have any questions?
Mr. Licht: It seems like you have all put a lot of time and effort. I would like to commend all of you and the Mayor as well. I do not recall hearing so many instances where the Mayor has gone out and actively started talking to businesses. I like the direction the Administration is heading. I know it is tough. The amount of money that had to be taken out of this budget was tremendous and to be even able to come as close as we have is something.
Ms. Vaughn: It is called a miracle. If there are no further questions I would like to thank you all for participating. Do you have any questions for us?
There were no further questions or comments.
Bryant and Stratton
Mayor Morley: I met with Bryant and Stratton today. They are going to do a few things there and try to work with the City. I spoke with the Chiefs before the meeting but this is not for sure yet. Bryant and Stratton is bringing their Police and Fire Academy on location here. They want to work with the Chiefs on training and if there is any training they have to do by law they want to donate the training. They want to be community involved and are going to have a carnival there September 4th – 6th in their parking lot. I am going to have them meet with our Festival Committee and reach out. They will not charge any vendors from Eastlake anything. Ms. Butler will be their point person.
Easter Egg Hunt
Mayor Morley: We are meeting on the Easter Egg Hunt on the 10th to finalize it. It will be on April 12th.
“Building Better Neighborhoods” Program
Mayor Morley: Chief Reik and I have been contacted by Channel 5 regarding a “Building Better Neighborhoods” program. They have picked 5 cities – Eastlake, Mentor-on-the Lake, Madison, Painesville, and Wickliffe. The Chief and his Victims’ Advocates have identified 5 streets in the Wards. We will have a large community meeting in Chambers. The streets are East 337th Street by WalMart, East 332nd Street off Lakeshore Blvd., Roberts Road, St. Lawrence and Galina. We will probably put this in Safety Committee.
Mayor Morley: Safety Town will be June 9th – 13th. Hopefully the web site will be up and running the next couple of days.
Mayor Morley: They have met to see what their costs will be and what improvements need to be made.
Mr. Slocum: The State Auditor was in today. This is the engagement letter we have for the audit of the City for 2012 and 2013. They have advised that their costs will be the same as the last two year audit – $35,465 and we have that set aside in the budget. We have $45,000 because there are two phases and the other phase will run the other $9,000. This is boiler plate.
Ms. Vaughn: This is already budgeted so we have to take no action other than approving the budget?
Mr. Slocum: Right.
Fire Chief Whittington: I have been a Director in the City for six years and this is the first time since I have been a Director that we are moving in a positive direction and no matter what is said or what is insinuated the Mayor has brought us together and we are all working hard and pushing in that direction. I want to be put on record from my position to say that. We have a lot of forces working against us and for us to go backwards any way, shape or form, would be a bad thing. From my perspective we are working on a lot of good things right now and I appreciate it.
Ms. DePledge: From my perspective and coming to the Council meetings and having them run the way then have been having to be run – to come to meetings and notice an absence of tension and stress – it is incredible for me. I did not realize how high it was until it was gone. You are not the only one noticing the change.
Mr. Slocum: Once we fill this gap I will prepare the legislation which will be consistent with what we have today plus or minus any changes.
Ms. Vaughn: You will give us a balanced budget and we will have one more meeting two weeks from today – with the Mayor and Finance Director.
There were no further questions or comments.
RECOGNITION OF PUBLIC
There was no one who wished to speak.
The meeting was adjourned at 6:50 p.m.