City prepares to launch new service request system for residents

by Laura Bednar

Sept. 13 city council meeting

Dawn Olsen, city information technology specialist, updated Independence City Council members on the status of “Tyler Technologies,” a digital management system for city departments.

She said Tyler launched internally on Aug. 15 and there have been 1,100 tickets, or service requests, entered into the system for departments, including engineering, service and technical services.

“Thus far, all tickets that come in from citizens are going through the analog process. Either phone call, email, and they [departments] are entering them in manually,” said Olsen.

Tyler 311 is a web-based platform where residents can submit a request for service and track its progress. It is part of the Tyler Technologies initiative, and a pilot of the program is set to roll out in mid-October. Councilman John DiGeronimo said he would like a test group of citizens to try using the platform to determine any kinks.

“I believe very confidently that by the first of the year we will be really ready to roll this out,” said Olsen.

Business incentive

Faber Castell, a stationery, office supply and writing implement manufacturer, is considering moving its U.S. headquarters to Independence to a soon-to-be-built building on Rio Nero Drive. Faber would occupy 130,000 square feet with a 10-year lease. The city is offering a 5-year relocation grant at 37.5% of their income taxes. The total value of the grant is $112,500 over five years. Economic Development Director Jessica Hyser said the company has 81 employees and a $3 million payroll.


Mannik & Smith Group will update the city’s roadway program paver report for $41,900. The report evaluates city roads, and the data is used to create a five to 10-year plan for future city projects.

Council authorized Mayor Greg Kurtz to submit a loan application to the Ohio Public Works Commission State Capital Improvement and/or Local Transportation Improvement Programs. This entity offers financial assistance to political subdivisions for capital improvements. Independence is applying for $520,000 to offset part of the estimated $5.6 million Brookside Road reconstruction project from Eastview Drive to Brecksville Road. The project includes full reconstruction and widening of the road, new curb and gutters, new storm sewer, sidewalks, drive aprons, ADA curb ramps and water line replacement.

Finance Director Vern Blaze said this is an interest-free loan, and the state sets the terms for payback.

Police cars

Council approved a $26,469 increase in funds for the purchase and delivery of three new 2023 Ford SUV Interceptors for the police department. The vehicles were priced through the Ford Motor Company’s State and Local Government Pricing Program for $112,302. With the increase, the total comes to $138,771. The ordering window was reduced from 10 months to three months, according to city legislation. Therefore, the city’s order fell outside of the production window of the 2022 models.

Police Chief Robert Butler said there is a five-year rotation on vehicles and four cruisers are purchased every year.

“Due to a price increase, like everything else, we needed to add more dollars in order to order the three police cars for this year, which we haven’t received yet,” said councilman Tom Narduzzi.

The city will also purchase an additional four 2023 Ford Explorer Interceptors for the police department for $183,916.

Purchasing Coordinator Dennis Zdolshek said, “There is no guarantee that when we do order these vehicles, that they will be delivered or if there is even a guarantee on a price for upfitting the options.”

There is $225,000 budgeted for the vehicles, but Butler said the city may need to increase the budget to $283,916 to cover increasing car costs and outfitting the cars with technology.

“The company that we purchase police cars from is on a 30-40 week backlog, and that’s why we are ordering four additional ones just so we will be able to receive them next year,” said Narduzzi.

“The dealer that we are ordering them from felt confident that because we are getting in so early – and there was a priority with us because we have an earlier order that was not delivered – we should receive delivery,” said Zdolshek.

Police officer Christopher Cross was authorized to keep his badge and firearm upon retirement. He has worked in the department for 23 years and is a military veteran. ∞