Petsche remains lone voice against funding option for Four Seasons assessment shortfall

by Kathleen Steele Gaivin

Sept. 18 council meeting

Brecksville Mayor Jerry Hruby, Law Director David Matty and some members of Brecksville City Council called out Councilperson Jack Petsche on his criticism of how council handled a proposed settlement agreement of $95,000 from Cuyahoga County to alleviate part of the shortfall on a special tax levied on properties in the Four Seasons subdivision for sanitary sewers.

Petsche has claimed that council was not transparent with the public in discussing the issue that would commit the city to paying the remainder of a $681,742 shortfall when the bond is due in three years. Petsche has been vocal at meetings and on mainstream and social media outlets about his opposition to the city at large paying off the shortfall rather than having Four Seasons residents pay back taxes that Cuyahoga County failed to collect.

Hruby said, “Just so it’s clear, because of so much confusion … we are not going to write a check for $681,000 in 2018, nor are we going to write a check in 2019. Each year, there is a payment that is made, 1/20 of what was to be collected … The way that our fund is … and the balance that is in that fund, we won’t realize the true impact of this [$681,742] as to how much we’re really going to have to put into it until such time as we get down the road more toward the end of other bonds.

“If someone thinks that council is going to authorize the writing of a check for that amount of money in the next three years, that is absolutely incorrect,” Hruby said. “How we pay them [outstanding bonds] off of is up to council. Where the money comes from is up to council, plain and simple, and it’s done in budgetary time.”

The mayor said the city has made 17 equal installments to date on the Four Seasons bond that the city guaranteed.

Petsche proposed splitting the shortfall with the residents of Four Seasons somehow. He said his proposal represents a compromise that would add $1,500 per year over the next three years onto Four Seasons residents’ tax bills.

Councilperson Lou Carouse said his understanding of the agreement with Cuyahoga County is that whatever money the city collects from Four Seasons above the scheduled assessments over the next three years would result in the county reducing the amount of the $95,000 it agreed to contribute to correcting the collection error.

“It’s money they don’t have to give us,” Carouse said.

Matty said, “We have not had any discussions with the county other than what was initially told to council, because that’s what your motion was based upon. I cannot go back to the county in good faith unless there is a motion to rescind that and proceed from there.

“The county is being most cooperative to date, most patient with us. I see no cracks in the armor as of today, but I don’t know what will happen there tomorrow or next week. It’s all subjective.”

The mayor then directly addressed Petsche.

“I take exception to you continually telling the public that the city screwed up,” Hruby said. “The city’s a victim in this. When we found it, we immediately took action.”

“The city did [screw up],” Petsche said. “We missed collecting $48,000 a year.”

The mayor responded that the city now knows of the error and will make sure it doesn’t happen again.

“This council has come up with a solution, and you are taking that solution and turning it into a problem instead of trying to help solve it,” he said to Petsche.

“I am trying to solve it [with compromise],” Petsche countered.

The mayor said Petsche was doing a disservice to the community with his claims.

Councilperson Dennis Rose said he felt council had been transparent about the matter, and Matty agreed.

“This issue is before you as transparent as it could be, and it’s the last time I will listen to anybody say, ‘You were not transparent,’” Matty said. “You [council] were, and so was the mayor. That’s the end of it for me.”

At press time, the ordinance to accept the county’s agreement to pay $95,000 was scheduled for a third reading at a special council meeting on Oct. 9.

Tupa receives proclamation

The mayor presented a proclamation from council honoring Recreation Director Tom Tupa in his induction into the Cleveland Sports Hall of Fame on Sept. 13.

“For you young people that are in the audience, if you look at role models, that’s one of the reasons we were so fortunate to have Tom come work for us as recreation director when he could have gone on to coach; he could have gone on to do a lot of things … He became a role model to many of our youth,” said Hruby. “Tom’s career is illustrious.”

Tupa started in baseball, basketball and football as an athlete in the Brecksville-Broadview Heights schools. Although there was talk of the Cleveland Indians recruiting him, Tupa went on to play football at Ohio State University before playing in the NFL.

“There are a lot of stories, and he is on the walk of fame in Columbus,” Hruby said.

Tupa went on to play for the Cleveland Browns, New England Patriots, New York Jets and Washington Redskins. He earned a Super Bowl ring as a member of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2003.

In other business, council:

  • Approved $13,786 for the city to purchase 86 new and replacement fall trees, based on recommendations from the city’s arborist Doug Novak and horticulturist Charles Owen.
  • Approved $20,880 to Barcol Door of Cleveland to replace three front entrance doors to the Brecksville Community Center, which the recreation director said are 26 years old and original to the building.
  • Accepted the bid of Hastings Energy Air Control, Inc. to furnish and install a diesel vehicle exhaust system for the Brecksville Fire Department for $96,972, with the cost being paid from grants from FEMA and Cuyahoga County.
  • Authorized the $34,979 purchase of a vehicle extrication system for the fire department.

Approved various purchases for firefighter gear, with cost sharing with a Bureau of Workers Compensation grant.