LWV 2013 Bay Village Primary Voters' Guide
Non-partisan information provided by the League of Women Voters - Cuyahoga Area, Bay Village chapter
Absentee Voting Begins: August 6
Voter Registration Deadline: August 12
LWV Candidates’ Night: August 13
Election Day: September 10
Polls Open 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Bay Village Mayor
Term: 4 years
Salary: $81,153 (2014); $86,120 (2017)
Questions for Bay Village mayoral candidates:
1. State revenues are declining and inheritance funds have been spent. Outline your plans to offset losses. Be specific as to measures you recommend to balance the budget.
2. When are regionalization and collaboration arrangements with adjoining cities appropriate? State your view on regionalization of the Fire Department.
3. Building inspection has been contracted out. What other city services would you contract out in order to reduce expenses?
4. What are the most important issues facing the city?
5. What is your vision of what Bay Village will be like in ten years?
6. What is your management style and how will you work with City Council?
Claire K. Banasiak
Bachelors Degree in History and Political Science; Juris Doctor, Ohio Northern University. Since returning to Bay in 1999, I have been involved with Girl Scouts, The Good Neighbor Program (Treasurer), PTA Scholarship Auction, and the League of Women Voters. I am honest, can balance a budget and negotiate.
RESPONSES TO QUESTIONS
1. Balancing the budget: I will review all departments and areas to find potential savings and eliminate waste. Cities, like residents, cannot spend more than their income. Even the smallest change, turning off lights, reducing fuel consumption, reducing water usage, changing trash collection, can bring savings. Also, one needs to see where there is waste. Do we need this? Is it necessary? I would start by refusing the raise and parking the car. The county is now offering a variety of services that could be useful in reducing costs and the city should explore availing itself of these services.
2. Regionalization: Regionalization and collaboration arrangements are appropriate where the interests of the city and its residents are protected. These arrangements must be conducted in an open and transparent manner, increase or maintain the level of services, increase efficiency and reduce costs. As to the fire department regionalization I would be in favor if the above requirements were met and strict standards regarding service, protection of citizens and fire personnel were established. Additionally the actual regionalization should be accomplished in a deliberate manner with each stage explained to all parties involved.
3. Privatization: Three areas that could be considered for out sourcing are the pool, it might be less costly to hire a company to provide all the pool personnel and handle payroll. The second would be the law director; it is already part-time position with most of the legal work done by an outside law firm, so why not contract out the entire position. The third possibility is the service department, although a better option might be increased collaboration (regionalization) instead of outsourcing.
4. Most important issues: The major issues facing the city include, declining income, maintaining service levels and balancing the budget. Additionally there is a lack of openness, transparency and trust, whether real or perceived, between the residents and the government as a whole. When residents lose their trust in their government there has to be a change because without the trust of the residents in their elected officials the government cannot be effective.
5. Ten-year vision: Bay Village has always had that small town feel and charm and that should not change, as this charm is what makes the city a great place to live and raise a family. I know of no other city that has not one but two Facebook pages devoted to it. To change this would be a shame. That being said, the government should be smaller, leaner and more efficient and modern. Therefore the government and all its entities need to utilize all that technology has to offer.
6. Management style: I believe that the mayor needs to be the leader and needs to work for the residents and with City Council. If they work together as a team then this can only be for the good of the city. The mayor should not micro-manage but should be aware as to what jobs are being performed in the name of the city. However, the government needs to operate in the open, be accessible and transparent to the public. As mayor I would have an open door (phone or email) policy, no appointment necessary. A transparent and simple government, less is better.
My career has been dedicated to serving the public at the local and state level. A paramedic for 37 years, the last 24 were with the Bay Village Fire Dept. I was appointed by Gov. Voinovich to the Ohio EMS Board and served for 5 years. I am a member of Saint Raphael’s Parish and have owned a small business.
RESPONSES TO QUESTIONS
1. Balancing the budget: I will focus on budgets that include realistic revenue estimates and reflect all city costs, eliminating year-end “surprises”. A five-year capital improvement plan will be developed for building, road and infrastructure maintenance; spending will be based on how projects align with city goals, priorities and legal obligations. Any major building project will be brought before the voters for approval. Capital equipment replacement and vehicle purchases will be rigorously evaluated and scheduled based on need. Shared purchases of costly equipment will be researched. Shared services through the County, (Human Resources, Information Technology) will be evaluated and implemented as appropriate.
2. Regionalization: Regionalization and collaboration are desirable when costs can be reduced or contained while maintaining or improving the quality of service to residents. Spreading the cost of seldom used, yet still necessary, specialty safety teams is an appropriate use of collaborative arrangement. Only four cities remain from the original Fire Department study of 2010, and the cities with the highest population density (Lakewood) and largest area (North Ridgeville) have dropped out skewing all relevant data. Bay is at a distinct disadvantage because of its location and residential nature. With 30% of our population 55 and older, rapid EMS response is critical.
3. Privatization: The entire Building Department has been outsourced, not just inspection. It is too early to determine how effective this new system is; whether it is performing as required and if the projected savings are being realized. Evaluation of contracting out requires a thorough understanding of the value proposition. This includes all expenses incurred (especially hidden costs such as accrued benefits) and revenues generated by the service, and most importantly, resident service and satisfaction. Contracting out is not a replacement for disciplined management and cost control.
4. Most important issues: The key issues facing the city today are fiscally responsible management, maintaining or upgrading our aging infrastructure and public buildings, public safety, transparency in government and completing EPA mandated projects.
5. Ten-year vision: Bay Village will be a friendly, caring, highly desirable lakeside residential community of peaceful neighborhoods with a centralized, thriving business district. Quality housing and supporting infrastructure, recreational facilities and city provided services, especially safety, will make Bay a community of choice for young and old alike. Well-maintained parks will not only make the city family friendly, but animal friendly as well.
6. Management style: My management style is to develop a clear vision for the city and its employees, then establish goals and strategies aligned with that vision. It will be participative, with directors providing input in decision making, empowering them to improve processes and procedures. There will be clear metrics and benchmarks to evaluate performance. Respect and service to our citizens will be paramount. I will provide council with the opportunity to better carry out their duties through respect, timely submissions, appropriate deliberations and public input. Unless a true emergency, legislation will be prepared to allow for three readings prior to passage.
Deborah L. Sutherland
A Bay native and Mayor of Bay Village for the past 13 years, I have the education, experience and leadership skills necessary to get the best value for our $27 million budget. With a Masters in Public Administration from Cleveland State and 14 years of retail and human resources management experience, I supervise 100 employees and five bargaining units.
RESPONSES TO QUESTIONS
1. Balancing the budget: We are anticipating a 2014 budget shortfall of $250,000 because of funding changes from Columbus. While significant, this is the smallest shortfall we have had in several years. We will continue to balance our budget by cutting costs and by not replacing expected retirees next year. This strategy will allow us to balance the budget without asking for more sacrifices from our employees and their families. Over the past five years, I have managed harsh economic times by decreasing Bay’s expenditures by 4.42% percent while maintaining services. Thankfully, we believe the worst of the economic crisis is behind us.
2. Regionalization: Escalating personnel and equipment costs at the Fire Department are not sustainable without significant tax increases, so a regionalized approach certainly warrants a good, hard look. The Westshore communities are a statewide model for efficiency due to collaborative efforts such as sharing SWAT, Central Dispatch and the Rocky River Waste Treatment Plant. The big issue to explore is cost. Service sharing only makes sense when it contains or reduces costs while providing the same (or improved) service levels. We should continue to explore where we can find similar savings strategies with fire services.
3. Privatization: Every city service could be a target for privatization. Creative businesses using cutting-edge technologies are coming up with new ways to take on municipal work every day. The important thing is to have a rigorous system to evaluate each of those proposals and perform a thorough cost/benefit analysis. Some, like building inspection, clear that process. Others do not. In the mean time, we are not waiting for private groups to bring modern tools to Bay. Tablet computers, online work orders that track city equipment and better finance software that handles timekeeping and payroll can all reduce costs and increase efficiency.
4. Most important issues: State cutbacks will continue to challenge municipal budgets for the next few years, making it vitally important to have leadership with experience in running a lean fiscal ship. While the economy is perking up, municipalities traditionally don’t enjoy increased revenues right away because of the property valuation funding cycle. We are looking at another three or four tough economic years. Additionally, the EPA will continue to require sewer system and waste treatment plant improvements placing significant burdens on us to comply. Aging city infrastructure, roads, bridges, and city buildings, will continue to require major investment of our tax dollars.
5. Ten-year vision: A big part of Bay Village’s charm is that it hasn’t changed much in decades. We all choose to live here because Bay is a vibrant, beautiful community, and that should never change. We will remain a desirable, family-oriented, residential community. Our property values will grow due to our location on the Lake, great schools, effective services and wonderful neighborhoods. As a community, we will be sustainable—environmentally sensitive, focused on health and wellness, reducing our energy dependence, and re-investing to make our housing stock energy-efficient. The Bay Village way of life will continue for generations to come.
6. Management style: I am happiest with a wagon-wheel, collaborative approach to management. In this consensus-building model, I serve as the hub of the wheel, moving information and important decisions back and forth between different participants such as bargaining units and city council. Instead of dictating my terms, I take the best ideas from many different groups, coming up with solutions that address the concerns of multiple groups. Whenever possible, I like to empower employees, City Council and residents to use their own expertise to solve problems. The Emergency Communications Task Force is a good example of this collaborative leadership style.
David A. Volle
I have served the citizens of Bay Village for 33 years as a Police Officer and 17 years as a Building Inspector. I have mentored troubled youth in the community and helped those less fortunate through the “Good Neighbor Program”. Both public service careers required me to be a problem solver in a fair and impartial manner.
RESPONSES TO QUESTIONS
1. Balancing the budget: Council is working on the 2014 budget as we speak and I am confident that council can balance it with current revenues. With that said, other areas I propose to help reduce expenditures would be to look at internal re-organization of all departments including upper levels of management and salaries. We need to review the “we always did it that way” mentality of spending. Leasing equipment on an as-needed basis rather than a one-time large expenditure may reduce some costs. I also believe that it is more prudent to consider preventative maintenance programs instead of waiting to problems become serious.
2. Regionalization: I am opposed to regionalizing services at this time. We are Bay Village! The taxes we pay are in place to take care of our citizens. Regionalizing the Fire service will not reduce those taxes. Before we regionalize, we should look at re-organizing our city departments first. Collaboration with other cities is more appropriate when needing a unified voice when approaching the Federal, State or County governments. Collaboration is good when needing to make large, common use purchases. Our community currently enjoys mutual aid contracts with other cities. When police or fire needs assistance, the help is there. Why regionalize?
3. Privatization: The question posed implies a savings when the building department was outsourced. We lost 85% of our permit revenues, all but one employee were relocated to other departments, and employees still do some of the work contracted out. Review the contract and see if you can find the $460,000 savings as claimed by the administration. The same holds true for the outsourced cleaning services. With competent employees, good supervision, preventative maintenance programs and more prudent leadership, I believe we could do more work in house and still produce a cost savings.
4. Most important issues: The single most important issue is the current state of City finances due to the lack of foresightedness, and proper spending controls. The second most important issue is the extreme lack of transparency, openness, and accessibility of our government and its officials. The lack of accountability. We are supposed to be a government of the people, for the people and by the people. At some point in the last 13 years we have lost sight of whom we serve and the purpose of our positions.
5. Ten-year vision: I would like Bay Village to maintain the quaint, friendly, Norman Rockwell type town we all fell in love with. A safe place to raise our children, a place to walk the streets at night without fear. A town proud of its heritage. I would like to see our community independent and fiscally sound, still being able to provide all the services expected of a local government. A transparent government where the voice of the people counts.
6. Management style: My management style will be that of an open door, transparent and only one goal in mind, to listen to and serve the residents of this community. I will surround myself with a highly qualified staff, encourage employee participation, and obtain residents input. I will not forget whom I serve nor will I use the office of Mayor as a stepping-stone for personal or political gain. I am here only for Bay Village! Armed with the above, Council will have accurate information to make informed decisions that the Mayor would carry out as the City administrator of day-to-day business.
This Voters’ Guide was assembled by members of the League of Women Voters - Cuyahoga Area, Bay Village Chapter.
• We selected the questions and placed word limits on the responses.
• Candidates’ responses are printed verbatim, up to the word limit.
• For the order of presentation, we chose the first candidate by lot. The rest follow in alphabetical order.
The League of Women Voters does not endorse any candidates for any offices. We neither endorse nor reject any views quoted in this Voters’ Guide.
Published as a service to the voters of Bay Village by the League of Women Voters - Cuyahoga Area, Bay Village Chapter in partnership with Westlake | Bay Village Observer. The League of Women Voters is a nonpartisan political membership organization. We encourage informed and active participation in government, work to increase understanding of major public policy issues, and influence public policy through education and advocacy. www.LWVCuyahogaArea.org
Look for the League of Women Voters General Election Voters’ Guides for Westlake and Bay Village in the Observer’s October 1 issue.