Report: Westshore Council of Governments (WCOG) meeting, Feb. 12, 2014

This report, which contains observations and selected highlights of a meeting of the WCOG, is not an official statement of the League of Women Voters. Official minutes are prepared by Mayor Patton's office.

Present: Mayors Bobst (Rocky River), Clough (Westlake), Kennedy (North Olmsted), Patton (Fairview Park), Summers (Lakewood), Sutherland (Bay Village)

Also in attendance: Dave Greenspan, District 1 Representative, Cuyahoga County Council; Steve Presley, Fiscal Officer

Old Business

Crisis Intervention Training: Mayor Patton and Police Chief Upperman will follow up with Bill Denihan to arrange training for Westshore police, possibly including librarians and other city employees with extensive public contact.

Fire District Study: The mayors of Bay Village, Fairview Park, Rocky River and Westlake will meet Monday, Feb. 24, at 11 a.m. in Westlake City Hall. Mayor Clough will chair in 2014. If the Rocky River Waste Water Treatment Plant (WWTP) collective bargaining agreement is ready, the mayors may follow the Fire District meeting with a WWTP meeting.

FirstAid4Autism: Akron Police Sergeant Mark Farrar is available to conduct training. Council Member Greenspan may be able to help with funding. The mayors will poll their police departments about what training has already been done. The mayors agreed that when safety forces' training is scheduled, all cities should be invited.

New Business

Regional Civil Service Exam: A listing of each city's eligibility list expiration dates was handed out. The objectives of sharing exam dates are to generate a larger applicant pool, save cities' advertising costs (about $1,500 per exam), and save applicants' fees and time. The cities weight factors differently, so the top applicants may vary. Some cities are required to hire the top applicants and promote from within; others have more flexibility.

Regional Dispatch: Cuyahoga County wants to consolidate all 911 dispatch centers to six sites and to expand the service to include police as well as fire and EMS. Lakewood declined to join the Westshore Central Dispatch Center (WCDC), and Mayor Summers expressed skepticism about the proposed consolidation. WCDC has the capacity to add police calls, but Lakewood, which receives 50,000 calls per year, would be a "game changer." Although consolidation might save 1-2 dispatchers, it would not be worth the cost in lost local knowledge and thus slower service.

Mayor Sutherland stated that the vast majority of Bay Village's 12,000 calls are not emergencies, and because there needs to be a police officer on premises, consolidation would not result in personnel savings. Furthermore, a police officer must be present in the station if anyone is in the jail.

Mr. Presley stated that some east side cities are pursuing consolidation, and observed that the county has also proposed regional jails, which would eliminate the need for uniformed personnel at police stations. Non-emergency calls could be handled remotely.

Mayor Clough stated that the core problem is how to speed response to 911 calls from cell phones. Mayor Patton stated that despite initial resistance, the WCDC has been a success. She asked the mayors to stay open to the idea. She will call State Representative Nan Baker and ask her whom to contact for further information.

Mayor Sutherland stated she would like to see the county do a pilot project rather than attempting to consolidate all at once. Mayor Summers stated that in 2013, Lakewood spent $800,000 to update its dispatch operations and integrate its MARCS radios. He suggested that when upgrades are needed, the WCOG cities use modular units and a shared platform.

Suburban Water Regional Council of Governments: Rocky River and Fairview Park are among 28 communities that have signed a maintenance agreement with the Cleveland Water Department; 40 cities have not signed. Mayor Sutherland stated that Bay Village's failure to sign is costing $200,000 on the Cahoon Road Sewer Project alone.

MARCS Radios: The $20/unit/year user fees, which pay for the tower system, are under statewide discussion. Additional monies are expected to reduce the fees and pay for additional radios. Mayor Bobst is on the task force. Lakewood has 320 radios in use.

Road Salt: The Ohio DOT is purchasing an additional 150,000 tons that cities can pick up now and return on the honor system once supplies are available. The mayors agreed that a better procurement plan is needed for next year.

The Westshore Council of Governments was founded in 1971 "to foster cooperation between municipalities in all areas of municipal service."  All meetings are open to the public. The next meeting will be March 26, 9:30-11:30 a.m., in the Fairview Park Gemini Center's Birch Room.

Read More on Local News
Volume 6, Issue 4, Posted 9:17 AM, 02.18.2014