On Wednesday evening of this week Council President Matt Trafis has invited all residents of the city to an informational meeting with the developers of the upcoming Rockside Rd. project. This is an open, public meeting, and I am encouraging all of you to attend at 7pm in the ballroom at the Holiday Inn on Rockside. In this meeting you will see the detailed plans of the Rockside Rd. project.
Quite frankly, this is potentially the most important meeting the city of Seven Hills has ever had. Let me explain. When Seven Hills came into existence, it was decided, at that time, that it would be a “bedroom community”. By that I mean, the leaders of our city rejected the idea of being a “developed” town. They envisioned Seven Hills as a quiet, small, sleepy town for families. And it is to this day, and that’s one of the reasons I have lived here for 20-years. However, times have changed. It is no longer feasible to maintain this type of thinking when it comes to our city. Here’s why.
#1 – The world has changed. A family was able to survive on a single fixed income years ago. Not today. Today, wages are down, and costs have gone up. We all know how tough it is out there these days. Being self-employed for 14+ years I know that nobody helps me pay my bills except me. Don’t even get me started on health care costs, all of which I pay out of my own pocket as many do.
#2 – It’s time to grow. We are living in a different economic world where if you’re not growing, you’re losing. Independence, where I grew up, realized this a long time ago and was aggressive in developing their city. It worked. I believe you won’t find a single person who doesn’t envy the situation they have. They have a wonderful private school system, amazing city services, you name it. My mom still lives there. Did you know the fire department comes by her house twice a year to change out her smoke alarm batteries… for free? She’s 75. They also come to her home and take out her trash cans every week. My point is this. Seven Hills MUST have this development in order to turns things around both financially, and for the brand of our city. This new “Crocker Park” type development will generate significant taxes for our city, and also, I can guarantee you that Independence will be jealous of what we’ve built. This is going to make our city look so good in the eyes of other cities, and to new families who wish to move here.
#3 – If we don’t look to the future, the burden of taxes is all on you and me. This is why I was disappointed that the income tax proposal failed in March. You know why Independence’s taxes are so low? Because of all the tax income generated from Rockside Rd. They aren’t forced to overtax their residents because of this. And they can offer amazing city services as well. Now, the new Rockside Rd. plans for Seven Hills are not going to be the end of all our problems, no. It will, eventually, generate a nice amount of taxes that will take a big burden off of resident’s backs, yes, but it’s not going to make us Independence over night. However, the alternative to not doing this project is keeping things the way they are, and keeping the tax burden solely focused through our own wallets. So which would you rather have? More out of your wallet, or less? This fall, if our income tax proposal passes, we would be able to generate an additional $700,000 a year from people who live in other cities, and work in Seven Hills. So again. Which would you rather have? They pay, or you pay? It’s really as simple as that.
I look forward to seeing you at this meeting on Wednesday evening. Please introduce yourself to me if you are there. I’d like to meet you.
IN OTHER NEWS…
At last night’s caucus meeting it was decided by council and the Mayor that we suspend the 2016 Home Days event. Remember, that’s “suspend”, not eliminate. It can always come back when things turn around. So why suspend it??
#1 – It loses money. I don’t have the exact number in front of me, but last year it lost about $13,000 or so. Now, you might say that that’s not that bad of a number, and that the brand of doing Home Days outweighs the $13,000 number we lose. I can understand that. But let me move on to point #2.
#2 – The VAST majority of costs of doing Home Days comes from our service department hours, especially the overtime. You need to understand as well that to do Home Days we essentially have to shut down the majority of city employees for 3-4 weeks to do it. That means that our service department employees are not doing anything else except working on home days. They’re not fixing baseball fields. They’re not fixing roads. They’re ONLY working on Home Days and making a lot of overtime wages. This is the biggest reason for me. Because how can we take the majority of our employees and redirect them away from basic city services for this amount of time in the situation we are currently facing? Which leads me to point #3.
#3 – We are in a deep, deep financial crisis. This is widely known now thanks to the new council and we are making every effort to make sure every resident understands this. So I would ask you this, knowing that we have less than two years to city bankruptcy… are you still ok with the city losing money and shutting the entire city employees down for a month to hold a three-day festival? What do you say to all the employees we were forced to cut back salaries on when we continue with an event that loses money?
What about the idea of doing a one-day type of picnic instead?
This is currently being discussed. Perhaps a one-day “home fest” type of event that doesn’t cost as much to set up and run. I’m very open to this idea, in fact, I think if done right, and is set up as a fundraising type of event, it would not only be a fun event for families, I think it could make a profit. But there are risks. There are costs to planning an event of this type. Porta-potties have to be ordered. Vendors have to be reserved. If you did a pig roast paid entry type of event, what if it rains? What if nobody shows up and buys tickets and the city is out $10k from the vendor? As you can see, there are risks involved. So these ideas are being looked into. We’re almost out of time though.
Plus, it’s still a LOT of work and many volunteers will be needed. If you’d like to be one of those volunteers, please contact Tony Terry at 216-525-6230 or email@example.com.
Personally, I hope we can find a way to do some type of one-day event, and we can do it in a way that it makes money, and people come and have a wonderful time. Your ideas are welcome.
IN OTHER NEWS…
If you’re one of the 305 homes in Ward 3 that are getting new sewers, I am holding an informational meeting next week, on April 13th, at 7pm at city hall to discuss the project. A letter has been sent to your home with the details. I hope to see you there. In this meeting you will learn about the entire plan for the project, from start to finish, and you will be able to ask direct questions to the engineers, law director, service director and myself and other elected officials. Hopefully this will give you the opportunity you need to understand this big project moving forward, and will prove to you that this project is being handled correctly and professionally. And most importantly, you will understand how transparent we wish to be about this project. This is your meeting; please attend.
FINALLY, A REQUEST TO HELP SPREAD THE WORD…
I’m going to ask you a favor. I’m going to ask you to help me get the word out about these updates I send out. If you find them valuable, and I’ve been told by many of you that you do, would you consider helping spread the word about it to your neighbors? All I asking you to do is either forward this email to a neighbor and encourage them to sign up for my email updates at www.votekukral.com, or perhaps you might drop a printed note to your neighbor? Here’s an idea. Print this email out and simply drop it in your neighbor’s front door. Or walk it over and hand them a copy. This is of course not required, but I’m hoping you’ll assist me in getting as many neighbors on this email list as possible.
If we can work together to be informed, then we can change our city. That’s all I’m trying to do. Thank you for your consideration.
Jim F. Kukral
Ward 3 City Council
Seven Hills, OH
P.S. I am planning on walking to every home of Ward 3 again starting in the next few weeks. I need the exercise. I figure if I do it one day a week I can cover the ward in by mid-Summer. So if I knock on your door you’ll know I’m coming. If you are not home, I’ll be leaving you my business card and a message.