Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Mentor talks trash hauler out of extra fees

Mentor city officials get tough with Waste Management, hope to dress up a (quite frankly ugly) gateway to the city and get some good news about the new beach festival. Those items and more in the latest weekly manager memo to City Council:

Manager Comments
• Council will recall that a couple of weeks ago a resident brought to our attention the fact that Waste Management began the practice of charging residents a $35 “service resumption” fee for late accounts. We quickly contacted our account representatives and informed them that the city’s position was that the fee violates our current contract, which obligates WM to serve all single-family homes at the contracted rates for all current accounts.

They acknowledge the error and we have since learned about $60,000 in these fees were collectively charged to Mentor residents. Mentor residents affected will have the full amount credited to their third-quarter bill, which was processed this week. In addition, WM will mail letters around June 1 to the same residents explaining the error. We have requested a complete list of all Mentor households charged so we may have a record to reference going forward.

• We are currently considering alternatives to better illuminate and beautify the road median on Route 306 as you are approaching Rt. 84 from the south. This could include curbing and expanding the median and adding decorative lighting similar in style to that near the 615/90 interchange. We are considering this now in light of the resurfacing of this section of 306 later this year.

• The City of Mentor has received a Grant award in the amount of $7,000 from the Lake County Visitor’s Bureau Arts and Culture Fund for the “Headlands Beachfest,” which takes place this summer on July 27. A great job by Kathie Pohl and Abe Bruckman.

• The unemployment rate for the City of Mentor decreased 0.8%, from 6.8% to 6.0%, in March 2013. That is the same as the rate a year ago in the same month. In Lake County, the unemployment rate decreased 0.9% to 6.8%. The City of Mentor’s unemployment rate ranked third-lowest among communities with a population over 50,000, behind Cleveland Heights and Lakewood, and among the top third of the 65 for which percentages are calculated. Ohio’s unemployment rate decreased 0.5% to 7.3%.

Fire Department
• On April 19, Paramedics responded to a possible overdose. Upon arrival, the patient was treated and transported to Lake West Health.

• On April 20 at 5:59 p.m., Mentor Fire responded to an open burning complaint. Upon arrival, a family of four was found cooking hotdogs around an approved fire pit. The homeowner was advised to extinguish the fire when finished. At 6:41 p.m., Mentor Fire responded to another complaint at this home.

Upon arrival there was excessive white smoke coming from the fire pit. The homeowner had dumped leaves in the fire which created the white smoke. Homeowner was told to extinguish the fire at once and was advised of the City’s Ordinance on open burning.

• On April 21 at 2:50 p.m., Fire Stations 3, 1 and 5 responded to an odor of something burning at the Great Lakes Mall. Upon arrival, it was discovered that a belt inside of an arcade game had overheated. The machine was taken outside and they were advised to have an electrician inspect the outlet.

• On April 22 at 9:03 a.m., Mentor Fire responded to a sprinkler head activated in a Mentor business. Upon arrival, we discovered that the water supply line in the bathroom had ruptured and it was not a fire suppression system problem. We assisted in clean up and advised business owner that they would need to contact their maintenance department for repair.

• Spring fire hydrant testing will continue throughout the City until mid-May.

Police Department
• The homeowner at 7144 Maple St. reported a burglary had occurred sometime on April 21. The homeowner said he suspected that some friends of his daughter were involved. An officer responded to the suspect’s house and spoke to an adult and two juvenile suspects. The officer observed some of the stolen property in plain view. All of the stolen items were recovered in the house. The adult and one juvenile were arrested and charged with the burglary.

• Capt. Gunsch and Lt. Allen attended a two-day active shooter executive law enforcement conference sponsored by the F.B.I. Topics included pre-event attack behaviors and indicators, managing the media in complex incidents, counseling of victims and first-responders, evidence processing of active shooter/mass casualty scenes. The training also included a discussion by the Chardon Police Department regarding the 2012 Chardon High School shooting.

• 2013 Road Repair Program — Concrete repairs have begun on Quail Point, Galaxie and Silver Court. The first concrete pour on Quail Point took place April 23. Concrete removal and replacement operations will continue as weather permits. Asphalt milling operations were expected to begin Tuesday on Robinwood Drive. Further updates will be provided as the projects progress.

• With regards to the 2012 Sidewalk Repair Program, TC Construction has been replacing sidewalks on Maple Street and will be progressing to Nowlen Street in the next week.

Parks and Recreation Department
• This is the last weekend for Open Skating at the Civic Ice Arena. The Arena will close for maintenance on Monday and will reopen for summer June 10.

• Black Brook Golf Course will be installing a Thorguard Lightning Protection System on the course. The system will provide an audible sound to alert golfers of potential lightning.

• May 15 will be our “National Bike to School Day” at Orchard Hollow School, which is being sponsored by the Safe Routes to School Program. Recreation Specialist Maggie Kuyasa, who supervises the program, said that the children will meet at 8:15 a.m. at Pinegate Pool and ride as a group to school.

• The Safe Routes to School Program will also be sponsoring the “Base Runners Club” starting May 3 at Orchard Hollow School. Children can join the club and track their steps and turn them into laps around a Major League Baseball Diamond! Maggie Kuyasa said, “All children who join the club will get to keep the pedometer that Safe Routes to School supplies and have a chance to win two tickets to an Indians Baseball game!”

• The new surface has been installed in the wading pool at Civic Center pool.

• Letters have been mailed to local Veterans groups inviting them to the Memorial Day service on May 27.

Economic and Community Development
• Ken Filipiak, Ron Traub, and Tom Thielman attended a Coffee & Conversation with Congressman David Joyce sponsored by the Mentor Area Chamber of Commerce.

• Staff met with an attorney who specializes in façade easements and historic preservation tax credits regarding repurposing of a historic building.

• Representatives of several departments met with a Mentor manufacturer regarding a prospective building addition.

• On April 24,the Finance Director attended the public hearings on house Bill 5 held at the State House in Columbus for members of the House Ways and Means Committee. Testimony was provided to the committee by several representatives of various Ohio businesses and by Mr. Tom Zaino spokesperson for the Municipal Tax Reform Coalition, a group of 28 state and local trade and professional associations and state and regional Chambers of Commerce.

A significant amount of time was allotted to Mr. Zaino. Several questions were directed to the coalition by House representatives: Does the coalition know the dollar impact of H.B. 5 to municipalities? Are there any municipalities that are in favor of the current bill? The lack of clear responses to these direct questions leads one to conclude that the current bill will likely require further compromises and modifications.

The coalition was tasked by one representative to “reach out” to Mayors, Managers, Finance Directors, etc. of the more than 600 municipalities imposing a local tax to come up with an acceptable bill. The other proponent testimony came almost exclusively from “service” types of businesses, such as commercial clearing services, heating and cooling, plumbing, and general contracting. The nature of these types of businesses requires their employees to work in several different localities.

The number of returns processed and the excessive cost of compliance was the recurring theme of testimony provided by business owners. The current bill would likely not solve the business owners concerns, unless the bill ultimately led to the elimination of the tax liability itself. Further hearings, including testimony in opposition of H.B. 5 are planned for next week.

Public Works Department
• Repairing sod damage - Citywide
• Jetted storm sewer - Civic Center ball fields
• Plumbing improvements at MMF to improve vehicle washing facility
• Replaced 12 sections of stockade fence at Center Street Ballfield Park
• Installed pickle ball posts
• Painted kitchen and restrooms at Mentor Beach Park
• Inlet basin rebuilds - Market and Munson - in preparation for resurfacing
• Crack sealing - Tyler Blvd.
• Expansion of Garfield Park parking lot

-- Betsy Scott,, @ReporterBetsy


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