2017 Seven Hills Update

Happy New Year! Welcome to 2017, a year that Seven Hills will never forget because so many good things are going to happen.

Hi everyone, hope you had a wonderful holiday with your family. The last month or so was a great time to relax a bit and take in all the blessings life has brought me. I am very grateful for everything I have. But now the holidays are over and it’s time to get back to work!

I have some news for you, including some HUGE news for the Hemlock Creek Sewer Project homeowners. This is a pretty long email update. So let’s get started. As always, feel free to forward this email to anyone you wish who might be interested. And encourage them to go to www.votekukral.com to sign up and add themselves onto the private email list.

***HEMLOCK CREEK PROJECT UPDATE***

At last night’s city council meeting the city engineer informed council that he had located, applied for and now officially received an additional grant for get this, $1,090,000 to be applied to the project. So what does that mean? That means that if you are one of the 305 homeowners in the project, you are now going to see about $3500 or so taken out of your Phase 1 fee, each.

This is on top of the $2.4 million grant that was already “granted” a few years ago. Our new city engineer, Dan Collins, told us last night that he found the grant last fall and quickly applied for it. There was five million available to be given out, and because of Dan’s excellent work, Seven Hills got just over a million of it! Pretty impressive. We on city council were so happy to see this because we pushed so hard to get this new engineering firm in last year, and this is just another example of what a great decision that was. The engineers we have now are amazing, and I look forward to more good things coming from them in the future.

This just goes to prove if you put the right people in place… great things happen. Dan and this engineering firm are the right people and you should feel very confident that this department is going to keep doing amazing work. I am. So now what is happening is they are finishing up getting a few easements left to obtain. Then an assessment letter with the final costs will be sent to you in the Spring. Then the city will put the project out for bid in June. We expect the project to begin in the fall of 2017, and finish in 2018.

Any more questions about this? Please give me a call or email me.

***SPECIAL “HOW TO FIX OUR PARKS” MEETING, WED, JAN 18 AT CITY HALL***

I’ve been very clear about my intentions of wanting to fix up our city parks. The problem has been we haven’t had any real money to do anything about it. Until now. City Council passed an ordinance last month to take $50,000 and transfer it into our Parks fund for the specific purpose of making improvement to our parks in 2017.

Let me put that into perspective, because you’re saying to yourself, “$50,000 isn’t really a lot of money, what can we do with that?” You’re right. $50k isn’t huge, but consider this. From 2010-2016, the city spent in total, out of the parks fund to improve our parks the amount of about $46k. So we’re going to spend $50k in one year, more than we have spent in six years combined to really make some changes.

The meeting on Jan 18 at 6:30 at city hall is open to the public and I hope you’ll come. In this meeting I’m going to outline what our plan is to improve our parks and how to spend the money. I’ll be looking for residents who have suggestions on what they’d like to see, and also volunteers who might step up to say “Jim, why would you pay for that when I can help get that done?”

We are not Independence, who probably spends $50k alone just on an employee to work on maintaining their parks every year. So we can’t do what they do. We can’t just spend millions on making everything brand new. We have to do it in pieces, and utilize the community to help us get things done. Isn’t this the way it should be? Seven Hills has wonderful people who want to be involved. I’m hoping they (you) show up and see what we have in store and also maybe what you can help with. Together, we’re going to make huge changes over the next few years. Changes that will make you, and the thousands of other people from other communities who use our parks say “wow, Seven Hills is really on the ball and looking good.”

***THE DIGITAL SIGN ON THE CORNER BY RUBY TUESDAY***

Long story short. Recently Council asked the Administration to get quotes on replacing the inoperable electronic sign at Broadview and Civic Drive. The plan was to pay for it out of the Broadview Road TIF Fund (Tax Increment Financing) that had a balance of around $92,000 so we wouldn’t have to use money out of the General Fund. The purchase of this sign is on the Council Agenda Monday for second reading at a cost of $22,325. Finance Committee Chairman Tim Fraundorf just learned that the Administration transferred the $92,000 in that fund to pay down the note. Remaining balance in the fund is $40. It isn’t a bad thing to be paying down debt, but there was no communication with Council and now TIF money is not available to purchase this sign.

So… we asked residents what they thought we should do? Either pay for the sign out of the general fund, or just wait until we have money in the TIF fund again. The overwhelming feedback so far has been to wait. My personal opinion is the same. That sign is a luxury, not a need. Sure, it looks nice, but even the location of it, there’s no stop light at that intersection so you can’t even realistically read the sign as your driving by. I am of the opinion we wait on the sign, but then consider moving the sign to the corner of Hillside and Broadview where it will actually be able to be read. Just move the static sign to another location.

***MAPLEVIEW WATER LINE & ROAD REPAIR***

This update is too long to post here. If you are a homeowner on Mapleview, please either call me or email me back and I’ll give you the update. I have good news for you.

***TORNADO SIRENS***

After a year or so of not having tornado sirens working, they have finally been installed and the first test was last Saturday and they appear to be working. Unfortunately it was a real struggle to get this project moving through the administration, but we pushed and pushed and it finally got done. I am not going to go into the details as I don’t want to be negative, but the bottom line is it took this council a lot of pushing to force this to happen. I’ll leave it at that.

***HOME DAYS 2017?***

A few weeks ago council was presented the Administration’s recommendation and plan for Home Days 2017. Remember, it is not council’s job to plan home days. Our job is to approve the money to put it on. The administration needs to tell us what they want to do.

Summary: They recommend we do a one-day “picnic” type event on Sat, July 29. No rides. There will be food trucks, and other food, and events and fireworks at the end. This is a departure from the typical “home days” of the past, and toward a more community type event. So the question we’ve been asking is… would you attend this event? So far the response has been 50/50. A lot of people want the rides, but the other half don’t care about rides.

Personally, I didn’t like where the Home Days was going. It seemed like it had become more of a fair instead of a community event. So I think that if done right, this “Home Days Picnic” idea would work. I’m hoping the administration pulls it off and everyone loves it.

***UPCOMING TRASH LEVY***

Council President Matt Trafis proposed a tax decrease to council a few weeks ago for our upcoming trash levy which is expiring. Basically, the current levy that pays for our trash pickup is going to run out. So we need to put another one on the ballot for all of us to vote on. The current levy asked for too much money. We don’t need that much anymore due to better contracts with vendors. So the proposal for a new trash levy will actually be a decrease. Look for more information on this over the summer. Bottom line, I’m proud to say that I’m part of the team that did the work to figure out we don’t need to ask residents to spend so much and once again, a lot of hard work and looking into things pays off for everyone. This was all Councilman Trafis. The hours he puts in to research and propose these types of things is mind blowing. We’re lucky to have him. Nobody lives and breathes for this city like he does.

***ROCKSIDE RD UPDATE***

Demolition on homes has begun. If you’re driving down Rockside you’ll see heavy equipment on certain properties. Those homes are being demolished one by one. This is amazing news because it means that progress is being made. We still have a long way to go, but this project is a go and when it’s done I’m confident that every Seven Hills resident will say “wow”. You are really going to be impressed with what they have planned to build. I can say this with the utmost confidence, when finished, and you drive into Seven Hills from Independence, you’re going to be proud of Seven Hills. I can’t wait for that day.

***2017 ROADS PROGRAM***

This summer you’ll see at least 12 new roads repaired in the city. I’ve written about this before. This will be the result of city council putting a roads program in place. We can finally begin to start taking care of our roads thanks to voters last fall who supported this council’s ideas on the income tax and fire levy. So get ready for orange barrels.

***BUILDING DEPARTMENT RESTRUCTURING***

Long story short, this council has been investigating on replacing our current in-house building department with an outside vendor. This is what we already do with our Engineering department, and it works great. The new vendor will act as our new building department and will bring a modern, more timely and professional approach to resident’s needs regarding these matters. We are currently in discussion to determine if this firm is the right one to bring in. However, city council believes that this new firm and contract would be a huge step in improving this service for residents. I’ll keep you updated.

***BUDGET HEARINGS***

Bored on a Saturday morning? Love finance and budgets? Well, then I’ve got an event for you. Join us for our 2017 budget hearings at city hall in a public meeting. Councilman and Finance Committee Chairman Tim Fraundorf will lead the meeting where we’ll go through every single line item in the proposed budget, one-by-one, and scrutinize each item. Each department head will be called into the meeting at different times, and will explain the budget they are asking for line by line. This meeting is on Jan 28 at 9am. Bring doughnuts!

***FINAL THOUGHTS***

2017 is going to be an amazing year for our city. New roads. Parks improvements. Rockside Rd. starting. Continued scrutiny of our contracts and future levies. More restructuring of our departments to make them better and more cost effective…

Get ready. Seven Hills is on track to move forward and this city council isn’t going to stop. Thank you for your support. It has been a TON of work to get to this point, and it’s going to be TON of more work to keep it up, but I knew what I signed up for when I ran for office. I, or the rest of this council, will not let you down.

Jim Kukral
Ward 3 City Council
Seven Hills, Ohio
216-272-4383
jim@votekukral.com

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