Mayor lauds council for tightening budget

by Sue Serdinak

Dec. 5 village council meeting

Mayor Michael Wheeler was absent from the Richfield Village Council meeting due to illness so council President Sue Ann Philippbar read the mayor’s report.

With terms expiring for several board and commission members, Wheeler supplied to Philippbar his list of proposed appointees, which turned out to be re-appointments.

The appointments: Tim Ochwat to the board of zoning appeals; Carolyn Sullivan to the park board; Jan Weber to the human services commission; Dan Holahan to the planning and zoning commission; Hugh Groth to the records commission; and Sheila Schreiner to the tree and landscape commission.

Council approved all of the appointments.

Wheeler thanked Bill Taylor and Pat Healey for several years of service to the cemetery board. Both of their terms expired, and they chose not to be reappointed.

Wheeler’s memo also thanked council and department heads for their work in helping create a tight, needs-based 2024 budget.

Finance Director Sandy Turk’s report stated,  “Developing the budget was challenging and demanding as funding requests received far exceeded our financial capacity. … With our major revenue source flat or declining, everyone will have to continue their efforts to deliver village services in as cost-effective a manner as possible.”

Law Director Ben Chojnacki reported the good financial news that the Yellow Freight terminal on Brecksville Road had been sold to Estes Trucking. They paid $248 million for 24 Yellow Freight terminals across the country.

First snow brings accidents

20 cars and trucks crashed together on I-271 on Nov. 28 when 3.5 inches of snow fell in an hour and a half. Photo provided by Richfield Fire Dept.

With the medical units parked in the southbound lane of I-271, rescue workers had to pull the injured victims from the northbound lane up a snowy hill to be transported to a hospital. Photo provided by Richfield Fire Dept.

Fire Chief George Seifert reported on two accident scenes involving 20 cars and trucks on I-271 on Nov. 28. The pile-ups were about a quarter mile apart blocking all northbound lanes. EMS crews had to park in the southbound lanes and the EMS crews needed to use rope rescue techniques to move victims across the median from the northbound lanes to medical units in the southbound lanes. Bath, Copley, Granger, Valley, Brecksville, Hinckley and Broadview Heights medical units responded, and seven people were transported to the hospital. None had life-threatening injuries.

Seifert said the pile-up was a three-alarm event that made national news.  It was the first snow of the year and 3.5 inches fell in an hour and a half.   

Seifert also said that all members of the police, fire and dispatch units were provided pre-cancer screening. The cost was covered by a grant from the American Recovery Act. Safety forces are often exposed to carcinogens when performing their duties.

Police Chief Michael Swanson advised residents to call police at 330-659-9500 if they notice roadways are becoming snow covered in their neighborhood so the snowplows can be notified.

Swanson also said part-time dispatcher Liane Makrinos has resigned after nine years.

Council adopted a resolution to give a 4% raise to all non-union employees, 3.5% to council members and 5.1% to the mayor.

Council also adopted the appropriations resolution, which showed $36.4 million, a 6.4% reduction from current appropriations. The reductions were made in the capital improvement project fund.

Council approved advertising for bids for one columbarium, which is planned for Fairview Cemetery. Councilperson Jeff Stoppenhagen thanked everyone on the cemetery board, especially Healey, for her work in drawing up plans for the cemeteries.

Although Service Director Scott Waldemarson advertised the work to refurbished Fellowship Hall and build a barn on the Eastwood Preserve property, no bids came in on either project.

Zoning Director Brian Frantz said that on the first snowy day, a few people went down the new sledding hill on Broadview Road.

“Given the prominence of the hill, it would be a nice location for the American flag,” said Councilperson Ralph Waszak.

Council approved sending a letter to the National Park Service endorsing the Friends of Richfield Heritage Preserve receiving a $125,000 matching grant from the Save America’s Treasures program.

Councilperson Rick Hudak entered the meeting with a cane and announced that just four days previous he had a hip replacement. He said he is pain free. ∞