Committee Chair Ms. Vaughn opened the meeting at approximately 6:00 p.m. Members of the Committee in attendance were Ms. Vaughn and Mr. Licht. Ms. DePledge was absent and excused. Present from Council were Mrs. Quinn-Hopkins, Mr. Evers and Council President D’Ambrosio. Mr. Hoefle was absent and excused.
In attendance from the Administration were Mayor Morley, Finance Director Slocum, City Engineer Gwydir and Fire Chief Whittington.
Also in attendance were members of the public.
STATE CONTRACT: STATEWIDE FORD LINCOLN MERCURY: FIRE DEPARTMENT SUV WITH ATTACHMENTS: $41,881.30
Ms. Vaughn: Mr. Slocum, what fund would this be coming out of?
Mr. Slocum: Fund #410.
Mr. Evers: Does the vehicle have side airbags?
Chief Whittington: Yes, it is set up with all the safety features. It is the police package.
There were no further questions or comments. The Committee agreed to move this matter forward to the next regular Council meeting.
CORPORATION CREEK WATERSHED STUDY: $14,500
Ms. Vaughn: Mayor?
Mayor Morley: Mr. Gwydir and I met with the Willoughby Engineer and Mayor Anderson. This is a study of Corporation Creek to try to alleviate the issues on Erie Road.
Mr. Gwydir: We will look at the creek from Route 2 all the way to the river to see what we can do in various places to stop the flooding. That goes from removing sediment, the erosion and looking at a retention basin.
Ms. Vaughn: Is this budgeted?
Mr. Slocum: It is coming out of the storm water fund.
Mr. Licht: This is the type of thing I think the residents are looking for us to do. I am good with it.
Mayor Morley: We are trying to do the things we are doing in cooperation with other cities. As I said we met with Willoughby’s Mayor Anderson and their Engineer. Mayor Anderson was happy to be able to oblige us because they are taking the brunt of everything. Hopefully, we can get something solved.
Ms. Vaughn: Yes, we are working well with other cities and organizations.
Mrs. Quinn-Hopkins: What is the timeline from the beginning of the study until we have a usable result?
Mr. Gwydir: It typically takes anywhere from one to three months. It takes a few weeks to gather up all the records and then go out into the field and then start running all the models. Once the models are run we will see where the problems are. Then we go back to look and see what can be done and cost them out and what the alternatives are. Obviously, we understand it is something you would like sooner rather than later.
Mrs. Quinn-Hopkins: As I understand it Corporation Creek runs from the basin to the river. That makes me think it is a manmade creek. Is that right?
Mr. Gwydir: It is a natural watercourse.
Mrs. Quinn-Hopkins: That we just sort of manufactured with the basin attached.
Mr. Gwydir: Right – but, you will find basins and drainage structures usually adjacent to whatever the natural local watercourse is. That is not uncommon but it is a natural watercourse.
Ms. Vaughn: Are you going to move forward with Mr. Licht’s suggestion about looking at all the pavement and asphalt and the runoff?
Mayor Morley: We have that set up tentatively for the June 6th discussion with the County – we will be discussing the impervious areas.
There were no further questions or comments. The Committee agreed to move this matter forward to the next regular Council meeting.
AMENDMENT: WPCC JOINT AGREEMENT: REPLACEMENT FUND
Ms. Vaughn: Mr. Slocum?
Mr. Slocum: We have discussed this in this Committee in the past when we increased the appropriation earlier this year for our payments to Willoughby. We could have gone with the full $225,000 that this agreement will eventually grow to. This is growing it by $50,000. We already had the money budgeted. We recommend you adopt it.
Mr. Licht: I sat through this meeting and to me this is a necessity for the replacement fund. The anticipation of the future costs are significant and if we don’t start setting aside now we will get hit for it at some point.
There were no further questions or comments. The Committee agreed to move this matter forward to the next regular Council meeting.
2015 TAX BUDGET
Ms. Vaughn: Mr. Slocum, do you want to provide a brief summary of the Tax Budget?
Mr. Slocum: As mentioned at the Council meeting last week we are now projecting that if everything stays the same we will overdraft the General Fund next year by close to $800,000. That should not be coming as a surprise to anyone. Some of the issues causing this are reduced payments from the stadium fund from what we are projecting for this year; but, a lot of it is decreased revenue.
Ms. Vaughn: How could we possibly have a big carry-over one year and go into a deficit the next year?
Mr. Slocum: We had a big carry-over but we were projecting we would eat up almost all the carry-over this year down to $50,000. Just by that definition alone…
Ms. Vaughn: How could we have that big of a carry-over one year and be in a deficit the next?
Mr. Slocum: Because are actually deficit spending this year. We are spending more than we are taking in and this budget is projecting that we will hold the course. I showed you – there were some changes I had in there.
Ms. Vaughn: I just want it on the record because the residents will not understand. After hearing it drummed into them for eight months that we will have this wonderful carry-over now we are saying there is a deficit for next year. This puts us in a very awkward position.
Mr. Slocum: If you had wanted to maintain the carry-over you would have had to make those cuts this year.
Ms. Vaughn: Okay, I just want that on the record.
Mr. Slocum: If you look on page 4 under General Fund, Statement of Fund Activity – this year we are projecting to take in $9.9 million and we are spending almost $10.7 million. We are spending more than we are taking in.
Ms. Vaughn: And we can do that?
Mr. Slocum: Yes, but we cannot overdraft the General Fund. When you look at last year we spent almost $10.5 million and took in $10.3 million so we were deficit spending then.
Ms. Vaughn: I want that to be perfectly clear. There was deficit spending more than in this year.
Mr. Slocum: It was in 2011 that we made all the cuts.
Mayor Morley: What I have been saying – and, this was the discussion even last year – we have a carry-over and every other city around us calls it a surplus. The first three or more months it cost $1.92 million to run so even with an $800,000 carry-over we started a deficit for the year at $400,000 deficit. I have been explaining that to every resident I talk to and they understand. The carry-over number can be big that is the carry-over we are getting the next year.
Ms. Vaughn: That is why we have never called it a surplus because we have not had a surplus in recent history.
Mr. D’Ambrosio: It is a sad reality.
Mr. Licht: I agree. It is evident that we need to do something. We are at bare minimum when it comes to staffing. We need to increase our revenue somehow.
Mrs. Quinn-Hopkins: So what we are passing is our proposed budget for next year?
Ms. Vaughn: The Tax Budget. It is required yearly.
Mr. Slocum: It is how we would use our tax receipts. It is honestly a fluff type document. Last year we projected we would overdraft the General Fund already and things worked out better. As it relates now and with what we budgeted this year this is what we would project going into next year. One thing I do not have in here is any change in the medical cost. I don’t know what the insurance is going to be. That can be a $125,000 hit.
Ms. Vaughn: It could be very significant.
Mr. Slocum: We have CEI – I did factor in another $62,500 decrease in income tax due to CEI shutting down. That could be right or wrong.
Ms. Vaughn: The kind of jobs we are bringing in is working for fast foods and super stores.
Mr. D’Ambrosio: I know there is talk that we may need a new salt bin – is that reflected in this?
Mr. Slocum: No, I am looking to finance that out of the Street, Construction, Maintenance and Repair Fund for about $50,000 per year for about five years. We would take a loan to build it but it would not affect the General Fund.
Ms. Vaughn: It will affect the road maintenance and repair fund. There is less money to spend on that. It is supposed to be for road maintenance and repair but we are going to use it to house the salt to maintain the streets. It is a quite normal use of the funds but there will be less money to spend other places.
Mayor Morley: Mr. Slocum, Mr. Rubertino, Mr. Gwydir and I are going to meet – it should be about $275,000. The one that is out there has been declared unsafe so obviously we cannot keep it around.
Ms. Vaughn: I am not disagreeing.
Ms. Vaughn: I have gone over the budget and asked questions of the Finance Department staff and have received quite satisfactory answers. So, I have no problems.
Mr. Slocum: Things are developing as expected. There is nothing out of the ordinary.
Ms. Vaughn: Every time I have a question your staff is quite willing to answer it for me.
Mr. Slocum: I am really open for questions. Our income tax numbers are about $2,000 – $3,000 short of the year to date budget. We are holding and that is all I can tell you. If we are holding I am happy – especially with that number. If we were falling short then we would have a problem.
There were no further questions or comments.
Ms. Vaughn: Everyone can call Mr. Slocum with questions. We will discuss May’s budget the end of June.
Mr. Slocum: I have no problem being asked questions at a Council meeting. I should be able to answer any question at any time.
Ms. Vaughn: You have been very helpful.
INCOME INCREASE: OPTIONS
Ms. Vaughn: This is coming across the table because as we have discussed right now we are looking at deficit spending again next year. We have to take some kind of positive action to change this. To my best knowledge there are no big businesses moving in here with a sizable staff – not that efforts are not being made to do that. Therefore, as we discussed during the last meeting we will discuss again – options. There are several. A major levy with a large, large millage in the amount of 7 or 8 mills that can encompass all services – General Administration, Fire, Police, Service and Recreation. Separate levies for each of those if there is any one of them that Council thinks should be on the ballot. We are talking operating expenses and not equipment unless you want a levy for operating equipment for Service. An increase in income tax – this has to go on the ballot. Slocum has provided us with cost figures to reach the money we need. We will not receive the funds until a year from April – not this next April.
Mr. Slocum: You would start receiving some of the money.
Ms. Vaughn: Some people pay estimated tax but you would not see a big increase.
Mr. Slocum: If we go with the income tax or a decrease in the reciprocity we are probably still going to be in a position that we would probably have to make cuts because we would not have the funds until later.
Ms. Vaughn: That brings up the other item – decreasing reciprocity.
Mr. Slocum: There is a delay in that also.
Ms. Vaughn: In my opinion when you talk about levies you have a lousy record on passing levies and in the majority of the City – even though we don’t like it and acknowledge it – we have a lot of renters and the people who own the property do not vote because they don’t live here. We have a lot of middle to lower class income people including myself. There are a lot of senior citizens on fixed incomes and other people who are on lower income. Therefore, seeing a tax increase on your ballot is scary. I know the school levies pass all the time but they usually lose in Eastlake. They pass because of Willoughby, Willoughby Hills and Kirtland. If you decide you want to go with a tax levy you have to have a plan of action like Perry is doing and we are talking hard work, flyers, raising money and the whole nine yards. That is the levy portion. An increase in the City income tax would affect the workers in Eastlake. People who are making money and it would impact renters because they live here and have to pay City income tax. I would hold back on reducing reciprocity. If you decide to go with the levy or income tax increase and they fail your last option is reciprocity. We would have to do that. We would have no choice. There is no one left to lay off. There is nothing we can sell. We cannot sell the stadium – we would like to but we can’t. I will go with the majority of Council whatever the decision. Mr. Licht?
Mr. Licht: When talking about decreasing the reciprocity or increasing the income tax either way we would still have to make cuts?
Mr. Slocum: We may be able to borrow. If you pass a levy they will collect that in January. If you go with something for the income tax that would generate $1.5 or $2 million I can probably take that and do some sort of tax anticipatory borrowing for a year or so – I would pledge that we would actually have something to put on the table.
Mr. Licht: That would eliminate having to make the cuts.
Mr. Slocum: Yes. If the income tax is increased to 2.5% it would generate close to $1.7 million. You may think we would have $800,000 left with the $900,000 we are short. But, if I can then take that to the bank I may be able to borrow for the next year so the first year’s collections will cover for next year and then you would go a little bit ahead.
Mr. D’Ambrosio: What is our timeframe to get this on the ballot?
Mayor Morley: July 8th because Council will be on break.
Mr. D’Ambrosio: If we have to have extra Council meetings we will do what we have to do because something has to get on the ballot.
Mr. Slocum: We have until August 6th.
Mr. D’Ambrosio: We have to get something on and I agree with Ms. Vaughn. I would rather put an income tax increase on the ballot before doing reciprocity and hope for the best. But we do have to make sure we ask for enough. It will have to sustain us. We don’t want to have to come back in five years.
Mr. Slocum: I cannot guarantee…
Mr. D’Ambrosio: We understand there is no guarantee but we don’t want to short change ourselves for the near future if we can avoid it.
Mr. Slocum: That gives you a little bit of breathing room for a year or two. Our revenue is plummeting and if this continues on – we have lost over $4 million. How many firemen, policemen and service workers is $4 million?
Ms. Vaughn: There is no one left to eliminate. We would probably end up with a part-time Fire Department and Police Department.
Mr. Licht: That was my question and I know this is probably not a fair question for the Mayor but what are the anticipated cuts if this goes down? Would it be part-time fire and police? Get rid of the Building Department?
Mayor Morley: We talked about certain things and we are doing investigations in case something would go down. We are doing investigations on eliminations in more departments.
Mr. Slocum: Part-time Fire is not on the board – contractually that is not even an option.
Mayor Morley: The Chief and I have been very open. Obviously, if we had to get rid of more firemen the Chief would come out and say it is unsafe. I understand that. It is nothing I would personally cut but the Chief would come out and say the Department is unsafe for our residents. And, it would be the same with the Police Department. I have not looked at what we would cut in Departments. I am looking at getting estimates if we did cut. Even if we cut more the residents will lose more services. We can do all the cutting in the world but eventually they will see they have no services. Say we got rid of the Building Department – everyone will have to go to Painesville. Say we combine some other things – it will be bad but we will do what we have to do whether it is good or bad. Did we want to lay off 25 people in 2011 when I was on Council – no – but, when they are telling you that you are not getting any more money you do what you have to do. It will not be pleasant. I am out trying to find businesses but regardless of looking for businesses even if we fill the WalMart – will that take care of this – absolutely not. If we got 20 more restaurants or retail businesses is that going to get us out – absolutely not. We need something that will impact us. We need something to go on that Science Parkway. We need something at the Nike site that will generate some big dollars. And, really those are the only two sites we have. We talked about the Nike site again. I spoke with the Economic Board from the County – he is telling me that is a year out – even if we would get some sort of assisted living because it is M-3 industrial. That is if we can get it. People are not going to come to us where it is zoned and talk to us about spending money if we are not ready for them. We are not ready for businesses to come in because we have to rezone it. We could rezone the Nike site for offices and never get any in there. If a business came in to build a factory we would have to go to the ballot again. It makes no sense to rezone unless we can get someone interested. That is what I have been working on. We are out everyday looking for something to come in here.
Mr. D’Ambrosio: We have to be prepared if we decide to put a levy on the ballot and it does not pass. We have to make up our minds that we will put in reciprocity unless some miracle happens. It is our job to run this City. He is talking about being ready to make the cuts but we need to do our part too if we have to do that. It will not be easy. We have said it – I have said it – it is on record – that I am against it but sooner or later it comes down to it being our responsibility to run the City. If people vote down a levy they will dictate what kind of City they want. But, we have to make it be able to survive. So, we cannot just lay everything on the Mayor. I am not saying that we would. But he is going to make all the cuts and we are going to be fine with it. We have to do our part too. Just remember that. Our history of passing a levy is not good and we have to be prepared to do this reciprocity if we need to. It is not an easy decision.
Mrs. Quinn-Hopkins: If we decrease reciprocity that is by rule of Council – right?
Ms. Vaughn: Yes.
Mrs. Quinn-Hopkins: It does not go on the ballot – it goes through us?
Mr. D’Ambrosio: Yes. Do the ballot issue first – give them a chance.
Mr. Licht: Which one – a levy or income tax?
Mr. D’Ambrosio: I am okay with income tax. It is a flip of the coin. We don’t know what the best thing to do is – what has a better chance of passing. What will be a better revenue generator for us? It is a shot – that is what I would say.
Mr. Licht: I believe it is shot in the dark which one passes but don’t you have a little more comfort if the levy would pass than the income tax. Wouldn’t that bring more stability?
Mr. Slocum: Yes, with the exception that our values are plummeting. We are losing money there too. There is nothing that is a solid stream.
Mr. D’Ambrosio: Mayor, is there anything you want to present to us?
Mayor Morley: We cannot bandaide it. The scary thing for me is – we had a levy on for $1.57 and it did not pass. For us to stay afloat a good amount of money would be $2 million or over. So, a 5-mill levy would net $1,948,000 – that is still basically a bandaide – correct?
Mr. Slocum: That will be able to keep us where we are at today plus with a couple of years anticipated inflation and the like. The other thing we have not done is we are now in our fourth year of no raises for our employees. And even at the $2 million you may be able to squeeze out something and at some point you are going to have to. Or you are just going to have a very second class type of employee working for this City.
Mr. Evers: In my opinion if you go after the homeowners you are going to get turned down. I don’t care if it is .5-mills or .25-mills. If you take a City-wide tax increase to the ballot everyone will pay their share whether you live in Eastlake, work in Eastlake, live in Eastlake and work in Euclid – you will pay your share. So are the renters – so is everyone. You have a better shot at it.
Mr. Slocum: You are wrong on the one thing. If we increase it to 2.5% and you work in Euclid you won’t get anything – their rate is 2.85% – it is all the other cities around us.
Ms. Vaughn: It is already 2.85% in Euclid so it is not like we are going to reinvent the wheel.
Mr. Evers: No, we are not. Everyone will pay – the checkout guy at WalMart – the greeter at WalMart – anyone who works in this City will pay. It will not just affect the property owners. You have a better shot at that than going after the property owners.
Mr. Slocum: For anyone who is retired and does not have earned income this is the best kind of tax because they do not pay it.
Mr. Licht: It is unfortunate but it sounds like the income tax is the way to go at this point. That is my opinion.
Mrs. Quinn-Hopkins: People who rent the home they live in do pay property taxes – it is part of their rent. There is not a landlord in this world that is not making money and they are paying property taxes.
Ms. Vaughn: The people living in apartments do?
Mrs. Quinn-Hopkins: Of course they do. It is part of their rent. They do pay.
Mr. Slocum: But the sad fact is when you look at the property tax that they pay only 8.5% goes to the City of Eastlake.
Mrs. Quinn-Hopkins: That is true if you own a home or are a renter – it is still the same amount of money.
Mr. Slocum: You pay more for MetroParks and Lakeland Community College than you pay for the City of Eastlake – it real estate taxes.
Mrs. Quinn-Hopkins: My thought is – I agree with Mr. Licht – I think going with the reciprocity is probably our better angle all in all.
Mr. Slocum: Mr. Licht was talking about the income tax.
Mr. Licht: If the income tax does not pass then the reciprocity is our only option.
Mrs. Quinn-Hopkins: Yes, I am agreeing with you.
Mr. Slocum: If you go for a levy and it fails you have the reciprocity as a backup.
Ms. Vaughn: If we go with an income tax and it fails the reciprocity is a back up.
Mr. Licht: It just what we think has a better chance of passing.
Ms. Vaughn: I am trying to be logical. That is why I said income tax – because it impacts everyone.
Mr. D’Ambrosio: I like the income tax.
Ms. Vaughn: I will poll the Committee and Council.
Mayor Morley: You have to decide if you want 2.75% or 3% or 2.85%.
Mr. Slocum: 2.37% of Euclid’s goes to the City and .48% goes to the Euclid schools. I would like to see us go with the 2.75%. I think that would be sufficient and give you some flexibility into the future.
Mr. Licht: A portion of Euclid’s goes to the schools? But in Eastlake it doesn’t?
Mr. Slocum: Everything comes to the City. Schools have the ability to get voters to approve an income tax. They did that in Euclid and the City of Euclid administers it.
Mr. Licht: What are the surrounding cities at?
Mr. Slocum: Most are at 2%.
Ms. Vaughn: Willowick and Euclid are higher.
Mayor Morley: Willowick has 2% and then they have another .25%.
Mr. Slocum: The do not have 100% reciprocity in Willowick.
Ms. Vaughn: If the Committee was to decide your recommendation would be the City income tax? Mr. Licht?
Mr. Licht: Yes. My recommendation is to put on a 2.75% income tax increase.
Mr. D’Ambrosio: I agree.
Mrs. Quinn-Hopkins: I am undecided right now.
Mr. D’Ambrosio: If you have other ideas I am listening.
Mrs. Quinn-Hopkins: No.
Ms. Vaughn: This will go on three readings – you will have plenty of time to make up your mind.
Mr. D’Ambrosio: Absolutely, it will go on three readings to place it on the ballot.
Ms. Vaughn: I know you are a renter and I am not saying you do not pay your fair share because I am sure whoever owns your property increases rent if they have to increase their taxes. That is understood. But there are an awful a lot of people in the City who are renters that don’t have their rent increased – on a lot of apartments – I know that as a fact. We are talking the ones on Vine Street.
Mrs. Quinn-Hopkins: Anyone who owns a rental property has to pay the property tax on that property.
Ms. Vaughn: But, we would see the immediate income from the City income tax and we are only getting a small portion from property tax. We are only getting 8.5%.
Mrs. Quinn-Hopkins: So, the landlord is not paying their tax and they are not getting their property removed from their ownership?
Ms. Vaughn: That is not what I am saying.
Mr. Evers: A City-wide income tax increase will generate more money than a levy.
Mr. Slocum: It depends on how big the levy is.
Chief Whittington: Psychologically if you throw out a 6-mill levy they will walk away from that right away. We all understand where are at this point – we are at the point of no return. So, whatever decision you make – I stand behind the Mayor and Council and you get my full support and I think whatever we decide to do this is a City-wide issue and we support this and we understand where are at. I am getting back some numbers from the feasibility study and I just got back the cost per capita for a fire department and I am blown away with where we are in the City of Eastlake.
Ms. Vaughn: We are way down.
Chief Whittington: We are not even comparable to some cities. Once you start talking with residents – we will give them the chance. Eventually we will be put in the position where we have to safe the residents from themselves because they don’t know – they most certainly don’t know. We had a staff meeting and had a good debate but I don’t want to be put in the position as the Fire Chief for the residents to feel the pinch of a loss of service. Because when that happens it means someone is not going to get care. It is not like I am serving pies to the City. We are taking care of sick people and if I can’t provide that then that is on me as far as being able to do that. Whatever you decide we are supporting you and the Directors will stand next to you and the Mayor to say – this is it. If I have to be the guy and I am not afraid in any meetings when residents speak up to say – don’t put me in the position where I have to choose. They may not understand that is not the kind of service they want in this Community. They will not want that. We had a lady say she only had to call the rescue squad once in her life and she would rather have the pool open. I understand what she is trying to say but at the same time the one time she called when her kid was sick. Was there anything more important? Like a fire – the Fire, Police and Service Departments – all those services are vital. I want to make sure that publically you know I am willing to put my neck out there as much as you are to get this City back on track.
Mr. D’Ambrosio: Regarding property tax – if you paid $100 a year in property tax only $8 of it comes to our City.
Mrs. Quinn-Hopkins: I know.
Mr. D’Ambrosio: We hardly get any of it. That is why the income tax – in my opinion – would be the way to go. The numbers are amazing – 92% of it goes someplace else.
Ms. Vaughn: Mr. Licht, do you and I as the Committee want to ask the Council Clerk to prepare legislation to place the City income tax increase on the ballot?
Mr. Licht: Absolutely.
Ms. Vaughn: I know the rest of you are undecided yet but we have four of us who feel the income tax increase is the way to go. With the Mayor and Finance Director’s approval we will ask the Council Clerk to prepare legislation to place the City income tax increase to 2.75% on agenda for next Tuesday or additional discussion and we can always put it on first reading if there is a problem. It still gives us time for three readings.
Mr. Slocum: I will probably have to get in touch with Atty. Sharb of Squires, Sanders and Dempsey. He would draft the legislation.
Ms. Vaughn: Can he have it by next Tuesday?
Mr. Slocum: I can call tomorrow:
Ms. Vaughn: If not that still gives us two meetings in June and one in July. We can always have a special meeting if we have to.
Mr. Evers: The last time we increased the City income tax was in 1996-1997.
Ms. Vaughn: I think it was in the late 1980’s.
Mr. Slocum: Council did reciprocity.
Ms. Vaughn: It has been 25 years.
Mr. Slocum: We have not had a property tax increase since 1982. That is part of our problem. That is why Willowick is paying 16-mills and we are only paying 6-mills.
Ms. Vaughn: I think as soon as the residents see levy increase the hair goes up on the back of their necks. Because we have done it and done it and done it and they have not seen any changes. Of course they blame it all on the stadium too. There is nothing we can do about that.
Chief Whittington: Saturday will be a good start for us because we hope the Open House will capture people who care about the Community and we will get their ear. I know the Mayor has done a great job with this. People want to see something on the return. The Egg Hunt was a return on their investment in this Community – as simple as it may seem on paper. It is an education. I do not know the outcome. We can all work hard and educate and be out there and be visible but at the end of the day I am not sure how much we can influence. Hopefully we can.
There were no further questions or comments.
PRAYER AT COUNCIL MEETINGS
Mr. D’Ambrosio: At the last Council meeting it was brought to our attention – before and after – about praying publically. I would like you to consider – the Supreme Court upheld it as our Constitutional right to do it and not to do it. I did seek outside counsel on this as far as pastors from two different churches – non-denominational and I feel what we need to do – no matter what –nothing needs to be decided today but I have looked into this – we need to make sure we embrace every religion, faith, creed, religious aspect that anyone has. We may not necessarily agree with it but we have to embrace it. If we upset one person we are not doing our job. We cannot put our personal values into this because this is a political building. In my opinion if an atheist, agnostic or Billy Graham walks into this building they have to feel the same comfort level of being in here. So, I don’t know how far we want to pursue this. I think doing it in public at a Council meeting – in my opinion – could cause a problem for some people. If we tried to do it – and nothing has to be said today because I know some of you are hearing this for the first time – I know you knew it was brought up. We can always tell people at 6:45 p.m. prior to a Council meeting if anyone would like to join us in this room for a moment of silence – a moment of prayer – whether it be Christian, Jewish, Muslim or whatever – we could do something like that. This way people have the option of coming to listen to any kind of prayer if that is what is being said instead of someone being blindsided out there with it happening. I do think in my opinion – and my opinion only – that it opens us up to insulting someone whether they are Christian, Jewish, Agnostic, Atheist, Muslim or whatever. They have to have a comfort level when coming into this building. If you want to consider something like that I would like to hear feedback – it has to be pretty much inclusive – what we do. But, we could say we are doing it at a specific time and if they want to join us they are welcome to. It stays in here – there are no minutes or anything. Think about it and let me know. Nothing has to be decided tonight but I am looking into it. Any feedback is great.
Mr. Evers: Perhaps we should table this discussion for another meeting as we are missing a couple of members of Council?
Mr. D’Ambrosio: I am fine with that. Think it over.
Mr. Evers: I am in agreement with what you just said. It would be in this room – not in Chambers.
Chief Whittington: You could use the words silent meditation and eliminate the word prayer because some people don’t pray. If you use the term silent medication nothing has to be said. You do not have to verbalize anything. You offer up an area for someone to reflect – even if it is not a religious meditation. I think that is very general.
Mr. D’Ambrosio: Think about that. Everyone has to feel comfortable – everyone who walks into this building. That is our job. We have to be sensitive to every faith, religion – whatever. We have to be.
Ms. Vaughn: Any other comments? Mr. Licht?
Mr. Licht: I will hold my comments.
Ms. Vaughn: Mrs. Quinn-Hopkins?
Mrs. Quinn-Hopkins: I do not want to talk about it right now.
Ms. Vaughn: I will hold my comments. But Mr. D’Ambrosio and I have discussed this and I agree with him 100%. It has to be all inclusive. I do not think it should be anything we take turns doing. I think that is inappropriate because we all come from different backgrounds. I think having it here prior to a meeting – unless you want to go with the silent medication – we can do that before the Pledge of Allegiance. But, that is something we can discuss.
Mayor Morley: Whatever you decide – it is your Council meeting. I am okay with whatever you decide.
Mr. D’Ambrosio: We will have to keep everyone in consideration. I did a lot of thinking about this. If we say a Christian prayer that may not be acceptable if there is someone of another faith or belief there. We have to take our personal beliefs out of this because of this facility. That is my opinion. I am willing to listen to anything anyone else has to say. We will discuss this at another time.
HOUSTON FISHER POOL CONTRACT
Mayor Morley: Ms. Vaughn and I met again with YMCA today. First Energy was to come to the meeting but they cancelled. So, I sent my request to them via email. The YMCA will provide an answer by tomorrow. They are a little uneasy because the numbers are so tight. They requested First Energy to make an $8,000 – $10,000 donation for either the chemicals, utilities or the lift. Ms. Vaughn and I spoke with Mr. Slocum after the meeting about Fund #620 and because it is a capital improvement we can take money out of the fund to install the lift. I would like to wait until tomorrow to see if I get an answer but I am throwing this out for you to think about in the next day – if Council has no objection that we install the lift so the pool will be able to pen.
Ms. Vaughn: It would be our lift.
Mayor Morley: If the YMCA installs the lift and do not come back next year they will take the lift with them. It is an improvement to our facility.
Chief Whittington: Is that an ADA compliance?
Ms. Vaughn: Yes.
Mayor Morley: We still have to install it. We wanted to make sure we could do this with the fund. That is how we used the fund to put in the fence for Jakse Park – it was a capital improvement for recreation. Just think about it.
Mr. Evers: I want to thank the Mayor and Ms. Vaughn. I know how many hours you have put into this and I am grateful.
Mayor Morley: The YMCA has done a lot of work.
Mr. Evers: If it had not been for you two it would have gone nowhere.
Mayor Morley: The email I sent today to First Energy was to say we are close and have been working hard for months – please make this happen.
Ms. Vaughn: The other point you made which I thought was very significant – you pointed out to First Energy that a company that has only been in this City three years stepped forward with the $15,000 donation. To my knowledge this is the first time we have had a municipal government, private, non-profit and the business community working together for residents in the City. It has not happened before.
Mr. Slocum: We are under a time crunch at this point. This has to be finalized this week so we can open the pool by Father’s Day which is traditionally two weeks later than normal. Any delay after this week – this is not being said to put a gun to your heads – but it is being said because that is where we are time wise. Any other delay we will probably not be able to open the pool this year.
Mayor Morley: I should know something – the YMCA is meeting with the CEO in the morning. I told them we need to know if we are going to have a meeting on Thursday because we have to provide notice. I am just letting you know in case anyone has a problem with us using Fund #620 for the lift. I want to make sure we are all on the same page.
Mr. Licht: What is the cost to the City?
Mayor Morley: It will be zero.
Mr. Licht: Other than the money for the lift?
Mayor Morley: They were originally going to do that. I do not blame the YMCA. The numbers are so crunched. Say Best Supply – the company that is donating the $15,000 – say the cost is $20,000. The YMCA will eat the $5,000 – not us. So, I think they are trying to feel a little more comfortable for the CEO to say if First Energy can donate this at the end it is a little better than a break even thing for them. This is a plan they want to do every year.
Ms. Vaughn: Eventually they want to have a day camp and a lot of other stuff. The YMCA is like the City. They did their budget last year for this year. This just came up – it was thinking out of the box. But, they did not budget for it. That is why they are hesitant. They don’t know if it will be break even, if they will lose money or if they will make money.
Mayor Morley: They are also hesitant because they went in on latch key with Willoughby/Eastlake and they are losing money. They don’t want to do this fast and have another issue where they lose money. I wanted to get your thoughts – if we pay for the lift there will be no other costs – it will be the lift and lift only.
Ms. Vaughn: They will provide the lessons, lifeguards, management – and, they are experts in pool management.
Mr. Licht: I think it is a no-brainer.
Mrs. Quinn-Hopkins: I agree.
Mayor Morley: This would be a positive for First Energy – as a PR move with the plant going down – they are giving back to the City even though it is going down. I will let Mr. D’Ambrosio know as soon as I hear something tomorrow.
CHAGRIN WATERSHED PARTNERS
Mrs. Quinn-Hopkins: I am excited to tell you that the Chagrin Watershed Partners is voting be on their Executive Board this Thursday. So, we will have a little stronger representation to help our end of the river.
REGOGNITION OF PUBLIC
There was no one who wished to speak.
The meeting was adjourned at 7:01 p.m.