by Sue Serdinak
Feb. 15 village council meeting
Planning and Zoning Director Brian Frantz presented details of the planned update of council chambers at the Richfield Village Council meeting. Frantz said 55-inch wall monitors would be mounted at several locations, and council members and other speakers would be given wireless microphones.
Frantz said the system would allow meetings to be live streamed and the public could ask questions virtually. He received three bids for the system, the lowest about $45,000.
Councilmember Rick Hudak said monitors should be larger than 55 inches and asked if someone needed to act as a switchboard operator to make viewing go smoothly for those watching virtually. Frantz said someone would have to host the meetings, and he might be the person responsible.
Law Director Alejandros Cortes reported that the Ohio Senate and House passed legislation to allow local governments to hold virtual meetings and conduct voting through June 30, 2022. He also told council that the village could use its home-rule authority to allow virtual and hybrid meetings after that date.
Fire Chief George Seifert reported that three fire medics responded to a call for a person in full cardiac arrest. Seifert said that Lt. Bergman and fire medics Mike Humanik and Danny Pierce were successful in reviving the patient and he is recovering in the hospital.
Council approved the hiring of Cody Bennett as a part-time fire medic. Bennett previously worked for the village but took a full-time position with Brunswick Fire Department.
Seifert reported that all new exercise equipment, ordered in 2021, has been delivered to the fire station. The equipment replaces outdated equipment that was donated to the village several years ago. Seifert said all village employees would be able to use the equipment.
Police Chief Michael Swanson said two new police cars have arrived. The village service department will outfit the vehicles with the necessary equipment. Swanson said the crew does a great job of equipping the vehicles and saves the village a large expense.
The village received $8,122 from the Ohio Attorney General’s office for continual police training.
Finance Director Sandy Turk reported that income tax collections are 32% lower in 2022 than for the same period in 2021.
Council approved Turk’s recommendation to renew accident and sickness insurance coverage with VFIS for $4,346. The insurance plan covers part-time fire employees and can be extended to full-time employees.
Council also approved the renewal of property and casual insurance coverage with Ohio Plan Risk, a not-for-profit entity that services only public entities. The plan will cost the village $69,758 for 2022, a 7.3% increase over 2021.
Council approved the mayor’s recommendation to accept a bid of $28,000 from AllScapes Ohio for lawn care and fertilization of village property.
Councilperson Jeff Stoppenhagen asked why the service department doesn’t handle lawn care. Frantz said village staff are not certified to use chemical sprays. Wheeler promised that before he executes the bid, he will check to see if any staff members can be certified to perform spraying.
Frantz said GPD Group estimated the cost of installing sidewalks on Broadview Road between Route 303, in front of Olesia’s Taverne of Richfield, and Richfield Woods to be about $145,000.
Hudak, who had an excused absence from two meetings in which council discussed sidewalks, said he didn’t think this sidewalk was necessary because a sidewalk is on the opposite side of the road.
“Putting sidewalks on top of new construction [the new water line] could lead to settling. … We should wait about five years,” he said.
“I would like to figure out how to do it [now],” said Councilperson Sue Ann Philippbar.
“We’ve been talking about sidewalks for 25 years. It is time to do it,” added Councilperson Ralph Waszak.
Philippbar suggested that alternate members should be appointed to the park board following a year when seven out of 12 park board meetings were canceled because of a lack of quorum. The village charter allows for alternates for the board of zoning appeals, but not for the zoning commission or the park board.
Wheeler said he recommended the charter be changed in 2020 to allow alternates for all boards, but council voted against including the change on the charter vote.
“I was pretty upset that this council removed some of the recommendations of the Charter Review Commission,” Wheeler said. “The park board is a very essential part of the village, established by the charter. There is a lot that they need to do. If they don’t get things done, other things suffer.” ∞