Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Regionalize the Water System!



For the last 4 years, I have directly called on 3 different City Managers to begin a discussion with Cleveland Water on a framework for regionalizing the Cleveland Heights water system. I believed then, as is now an established fact, the Cleveland Heights water system is unsustainable and the status quo is not an option any longer.  Unfortunately, the majority of Council, at those times in the past, did not agree with my call to initiate those discussions with Cleveland Water.  With that said, hindsight is 20/20. Now, with a mounting debt from the massive loss of water in the pipes (water that never reaches residents or businesses) the Council must make a decision on the future of the City’s water lines. It is clear that the City will be unable to maintain control of the water system as the cost is too great and has reached the point that the debt incurred from the water system is greater than the City’s reserves. Of course, this is something that can not wait another year. 


I have continued and will continue to speak out in favor of regionalizing our water system with Cleveland Water. As I have repeated over the last 4 years;
1.      Almost every other municipality in Cuyahoga County is directly serviced by Cleveland Water. The ONLY municipalities not currently directly served by Cleveland Water are Bedford, Chagrin Falls, Lakewood and of course Cleveland Heights.
2.      Cleveland Heights is a “master meter City” (as are Bedford, Chargin Falls and Lakewood). This means that water is sent from Cleveland to Cleveland Heights for a set price (which is only slightly lower than what residence throughout Cuyahoga County pay for their water). Cleveland Heights then charges a premium above that price that the residents pay whenever they turn on their faucets. This “mark up” makes water usage more expensive in a “master meter” community such as Cleveland Heights than our neighbors that are directly served by Cleveland Water. I have always considered this an unnecessary and uninviting expense of living and doing business in Cleveland Heights.
3.      Regionalizing our water department will eventually lead to a leveling off of our residential and commercial water rates. Once Cleveland Water completes the necessary $10 million necessary investment into the system and has been reimbursed through higher rates, then a freeze period of the rates would ensue.  This rate freeze would be in effect over a period of time until the Cleveland Water rate eventually matches the Cleveland Heights rate. I am under the impression that this would take 4-7 years. The end result would be a lower rate for our residents and businesses from the “mark ups” our City currently charges or whatever “mark up” a for-profit company would charge if they were the biller.
4.      The City has been diligent in its efforts to keep spending in line with realistic budgetary forecasts. Difficult decisions have been made, hiring has been frozen in many departments, the workforce has been reduced via attrition and City employees and staff are doing more with much less. The one overarching concern that has literally “blown a hole” in the otherwise responsible and successful budget, is the Water Department’s average $1.2 - $2 million of yearly losses.

This is a complicated issue, as every story has two sides. The City Administration and Council as a whole has made decisions based on the best information and guidance from professionals that we had at that time. Unfortunately, important information, such as the degree of disrepair the city’s underground water pipes are currently in, was unknown and the recommendations of staff, were at times, woefully off due to that same lack of knowledge as to the true causes of the Water systems insolvency.

For me however, I campaigned on supporting a Regional approach to maintain quality of City services while being more efficient. Over the last 4 years of my time on Council, I have been a proponent of regionalizing our Water Department and Sewer System, Police & Fire Dispatch, CHPD SWAT Team, joining the E.D.G.E. communities and joining the Shaker & University Heights Fire Department merger study, amongst others. I believe that due to shrinking City budgets and a smaller population than 50 years ago, the status quo can not and should not be continued. It is becoming more burdensome every year. For me, regionalism is neither scary nor bold change. To me, regionalism is simply, the responsible way to ensure a better and brighter future for Cleveland Heights.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Councilman Stein’s Outstanding Neighbor of the Month Award for August

Councilman Stein’s Outstanding Neighbor of the Month Award for August 2014 goes to Chris Riethmiller of Montford Road.

If you would like to nominate a neighbor for Councilman Stein’s Outstanding Neighbor of the Month award, please visit http://councilmanstein.blogspot.com/ and fill out the online form or you can email me at jstein@clvhts.com and request a paper form that you can complete and return to me.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Juvenile Diversion and Opportunity

The region has seen an increase in juvenile crime. The CHPD is working hard to keep our neighborhoods safe. Over the last three years alone, we have initiated the Neighborhood Watch Program, Meet you Police every Thursday from 6:00-8:00PM at City Hall, created the Community Response Unit, a bicycle patrol unit, a facebook and twitter presence and many more initiatives.
 
In our ongoing efforts to make Cleveland Heights the safest inner ring suburb in the County, we have now created a juvenile diversion/mentoring program. This program will give at-risk youths the opportunity to change their path from the "wrong road" to a life of positive opportunity. Click on the 60 second video to hear my public comments on this new program.



Monday, February 17, 2014

Councilman Stein's Outstanding Neighbor of the Month Award

Fill out my online form.
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https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B57X7SCEl0wrandEYkxRLTZjOEU/edit?usp=sharing
Paper version

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Transparency, Taxes and Knowledge


 Click

Click above to use the OpenGov Website

Have you ever wondered how Cleveland Heights spends your tax dollars? Maybe you are curious to know how much tax revenue the city collected last year. Whatever your tax revenue questions may be; now, you can find the answer online. “Cleveland Heights has become the first city in Ohio to offer an interactive online reporting tool that allows residents, elected officials and City staff to explore the City’s financial data in real time.” Cleveland Heights is bringing transparency, understanding and analysis of the City’s annual budget and monthly expenditures to a new level.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Landlords, Renters and Neighborhoods


For too long, some absentee landlords have failed to ensure that the tenants they rent to, are good neighbors. Unfortunately, the housing crisis that began years ago, has made these nuisance landlords and renters more common.

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B57X7SCEl0wram1zSl9wc2VmRFk/edit?usp=sharingThis legislation is a new tool, that will be used to encourage landlords to think, not only about their own wallets, but, also consider, the needs and rights of the neighboring community. We want safe and friendly streets throughout our city. This piece of legislation will empower the City to remove a certificate of occupancy from a residence for up to 12 months. That means no renter and no money for the absentee landlord for up to 12 months, if their residence becomes a nuisance to their neighbors.



Those landlords that maintain their properties well and are concerned with the quality of the neighborhood; this legislation will help you. But, to those landlords that do not care about the neighborhood in which they own properties, I say to them, It is time to change your ways! Care about the neighbors and neighborhood that you choose to own rental property. Work to ensure that you rent to only good neighbors and that you maintain your property as befitting a neighborhood you would want to live in yourself.

Do the right thing and “care about the neighborhood”.  If doing the right thing is not motivation enough, then let this legislation serve a convincing incentive.

It is simple; Rent to good neighbors, or lose your privilege to rent in Cleveland Heights.



Sunday, September 1, 2013

Creating a sense of community

In March, I participated in a panel discussion, hosted by FutureHeights, about neighborhood organizing. It was an upbeat evening that highlighted the success of neighborhood groups in the Cain Park and Grant Deming's Forest Hill areas. These two parts of the city are different, and each has its own unique strengths and attributes, but both associations share a love for their neighborhoods and a positive enthusiasm for making them better.

The Cain Park Neighborhood Association (CPNA) meets once a month at City Hall. The neighbors stay in touch throughout the month via their CPNA Facebook page and Nextdoor.com. Members have collaborated with the city to allow leashed dogs in Cain Park, give and get advice about the new Sprinkler Park in Cain Park and plan block parties. The CPNA is currently creating a website to market the Cain Park residential neighborhood to prospective residents.

The Grant Deming’s Forest Hill (GDFH) District neighbors also use Nextdoor.com to communicate neighborhood happenings and plan events. They have collaborated with the city to have the Grant Deming's Forest Hill District of Coventry Village listed in the National Register of Historic Places, spray painted a “Lake Erie Starts Here” stencil on sewer grates in the district, and hosted a community-wide garage sale on June 22. The GDFH neighbors have an active website to market their neighborhood to prospective residents, www.grantdemingneighborhood.org.



These street associations are making a difference. Does your street or neighborhood have an active association? If you would like to become involved and help improve your neighborhood, the city would like to work with you. For information about creating a street association, please contact the Community Relations Department at 216-291-2323 or comrel@clvhts.com.

A new option to collaborate with the city and our police department is the neighborhood watch program. Cleveland Heights is a safe city because we have an excellent police department. Nevertheless, throughout the country there has been an increase in crime because of the recession and housing crisis. Neighborhoods are safer with an alert and engaged neighborhood watch program. If you are interested in more information about creating a Neighborhood Watch Program for your street, contact the Cleveland Heights Police Department’s Community Response Team at 216-291-4225 or myp@clvhts.com.


Whether your neighborhood wants to establish a street association to strengthen your street’s sense of community, or start a neighborhood watch program to increase safety, now is the time to become involved.

Published in the HeightsObserver 7-1-2013