This blog was launched on March 2009. It’s been a great 4 years so far…with more to come.
Noreen Paradise (of the Highland Heights Garden Club) appeared at Council’s Feb 26th Committee of the Whole meeting to report on the Highland Heights Community Garden.
Paradise told Council that the Garden’s inaugural season was a huge success, so much so that all of the plots are already spoken for. She has a waiting list for the 2013 season.
“Everything was great. We had hundreds of pounds of produce. By the end we couldn’t collect it all.”
Mayor Coleman and Council were receptive to Paradise’s suggestions to build on the Garden’s success this year---by expanding the garden and installing a more permanent (and groundhog-resistant) fence.
‘’’…(We could) potentially expand the garden to the west. Perhaps put in 2 more rows…. Put in 12 more beds. It would allow residents late to party to rent space.”
Councilman Leo Lombardo, who had an abundant Garden plot last year, shared his concern about berry bushes that a fellow gardener planted, which apparently brought on a Japanese beetle infestation.
Paradise promised to address the issue, humorously commenting,
“The groundhog ate a whole lot more than the beetles, but unfortunately we couldn’t get them in the soapy waters.”
THE CITY’S 2013 BUDGET: “TIGHT” WITH DEFICIT SPENDING
The City of Highland Heights spends more than $17 million every year. That’s a lot of money.
Deciding how to spend that money is the single most important policy decision that the mayor and Council make.
Last week, they met to discuss the budget.
The meeting lasted just 18 minutes.
That made it an almost $1million a minute conversation.
Mayor Scott Coleman, Finance Director Joe Filippo and Legislative & Finance Chair Councilman Leo Lombardo parroted each other, describing the budget as “tight”.
Here are a couple of highlights:
---The city projects that overall it will take in $17,549,104 in revenue and spend $ 17,697,181 this year.
That adds up to a $148,077 deficit.
The budget figures will no doubt change as the year progresses---they usually do. Significantly the city is still negotiating new labor contracts, which could really impact the city’s revenue and expenditure figures.
Fortunately the city has a $7million+ reserve to fall back on, should the deficit-spending projection hold firm.
---One big contributor to the city’s projected 2013 deficit spending is (no shock) the Park & Recreation Commission (P&R).
After towing the line for a couple of years, P&R is apparently back to its old deficit-spending ways.
The P&R budget shows P&R overspending its revenue by almost $80,000 this year.
It’s troubling to see, especially given the generous support that P&R receives from Highland Heights taxpayers each year.
Pursuant to our charter, 1 mil of the property taxes collected by the city are put into P&R’s coffers. Those taxes and program fees make up P&R’s revenue---projected to exceed $600,000 this year.
A few years ago P&R got into big trouble with its deficit-spending. Things improved for awhile after that.
Unfortunately, however, it seems that living within its means has turned out to be a very short-lived P&R practice indeed.
---Another item of interest: increased spending for Community Day.
The city used to sponsor a 3 day community festival, known as “Home Days”.
In 2010 Mayor Scott Coleman cut the festival back to a one day event. It is now known as “Community Day”.
While fireworks were retained, the well-attended city parade got the boot.
Councilman Chuck Brunello---who also serves on P&R --- has headed the Community Day Committee since 2010. He and the other committee members spend a lot of time planning the one day event.
The city spent $20,301 on Community Day in 2010.
The budget shows that this year the city is planning to spend $30,000.
For those of you that don't want to do the math, that amounts to a 50% increase in 3 years.
AIRPORT ROAD RELOCATION: NOT OFF THE TABLE?
A couple of years ago, the county floated the idea of relocating Richmond and/or Bishop Roads to allow for a major expansion of the Cuyahoga County Airport.
Residents hit the roof.
Local opposition and the Cuyahoga County corruption scandal seemed to put an end to that scheme.
“Seemed” is the operative word.
According to a recent Plain Dealer story, the county is still hoping to expand the runway. The story led readers to believe that any expansion would occur within the airport’s current boundaries.
President of Council Cathy Murphy---who is a member of the airport’s Noise Abatement Council---took issue with that spin.
In a letter to the editor Murphy wrote:
“…I'm not as confident … that the idea of relocating Richmond and Bishop roads to allow for airport runway expansion has been taken off the table...Seven "alternatives" are being studied. Six out of them entail expanding the airport footprint by relocating Bishop and/or Richmond Roads.”
Murphy urged interested residents to weigh in on the issue while an environmental study is underway, to ensure that their comments would be included in the study. According to Murphy:
“Residents can express opinions by going to www.cuyahoga-airportea.com and sending an email or by mailing a letter to the Cuyahoga County Airport/Environmental Assessment Study, 26300 Curtiss Wright Pkwy., Richmond Heights 44143.”
You can read Murphy’s letter at: