2015 State of the City Address

City of Euclid8
State of the City Address
February 2, 2015
By Mayor Bill Cervenik

I am honored to present to you the 2015 State of the City Address. This past year was both challenging and rewarding.  The economic recovery in our region is certainly not as strong as in other metropolitan areas throughout the country.  City income tax collections remained stagnant, including employer withholding tax, indicating little if any job growth.  In addition, we were informed that University Hospital’s Administrative Office facility will be leaving Euclid early this year, with its nearly 500 jobs and $600,000 of payroll taxes. 

Other revenue sources failed to make up for this shortfall.  Similar to most communities in Ohio, we have yet to recover from the decrease in funding by the State of Ohio, in excess of $3 Million dollars.

On the expense side, employee health care costs increased 20% over the prior year, by nearly $1 Million dollars.  Health care costs constitute approximately 12% of our General Fund Budget.  We must take measures to control these costs and we have taken steps to do so.

An employee healthcare committee was created to review our benefits package and to submit suggestions on how costs could be reduced. The result includes a greater sharing of costs by our employees, coupled with a wellness program that encourages healthier lifestyle decisions, the annual monitoring of certain health indicators and providing incentives for employee participation. 

In addition, I have proposed to City Council, that we join the Regional Health Care Program of Cuyahoga County, and end the practice of being self-insured.  Once implemented, cost savings are projected to be approximately 10% and the city’s claim risk is spread amongst a much larger census, providing additional protection from volatile spikes in claims.

Municipalities must take advantage of opportunities available to them by participating in regional and collaborative partnerships. Not only can significant taxpayer dollars be conserved, but the resulting enhanced services and efficient operations benefit our residents as well.   The City of Euclid has been a leader in seizing these opportunities and the benefits have been significant in three other strategic regional decisions.

The Police Department’s Strategic Response Team formed the EDGE unit, along with South Euclid, Shaker Heights, Beachwood and University Heights.  Even earlier was our decision to join the Heights Special Rescue Team. The increased access to equipment, specialized training and manpower will serve us well when special situations arise.

The transfer of the jail facility and operations to the Cuyahoga County Sheriff’s Department is now complete.  The cost to house our prisoners has been reduced to $520,000 per year, a decrease of over $1,000,000.

The consolidation of Euclid’s Emergency Dispatch Service with Chagrin Valley Dispatch is taking place currently with full integration set to begin April 1st.  Not only will we realize a savings of $250,000 annually, the advanced technology of the communication equipment and radios will strengthen service and safety to both our residents and our safety forces.   As you can see, these collaborations are beneficial to our operations, budget and service, and we must explore all opportunities that exist. Municipalities can no longer go it alone and expect to succeed.  

I am also very proud of the fact that recently we were able to help the City of East Cleveland by providing them with one of our backup ambulances, when their vehicle was unable to be put back in operation.   Good for East Cleveland and good for Euclid as we reduce our City EMS mutual aid responses.  

On the development front, we began the year welcoming Remedi Pharmaceuticals and their 135 employees to Bluestone Business Park.  Recently, Guardian Technologies has made the balance of the building its home, prompting developer Fogg Business Systems to announce the planned construction of a second building in March of 2015.  We fully expect to meet our goal of 1,000 new jobs when the property is fully built.

The Help Foundation will hold an Open House this spring at their newly constructed Headquarters at Century Corner.  There is also keen interest in the HC Starck building on East 222nd Street and we hope to have an announcement naming a new tenant soon.  

The Downtown entertainment scene continues to expand.  Great Scott Tavern, the long anticipated restaurant at East 219th Street and Lakeshore is scheduled to open this spring.   Fine dining is a guarantee and the outdoor dining area will bring added excitement to the area.

Chipotle will begin construction on Lakeshore, next to Dunkin Donuts.  The restaurant will also feature an outdoor eating area.  The amount of BUZZ Chipotle’s arrival in Euclid has generated, is nothing short of amazing.

These two new additions will complement the existing eateries already in the Downtown District and will certainly spark interest in others. The Chamber of Commerce continues to work with the local businesses to develop creative strategies to attract further business and to keep the downtown area inviting and attractive. 

The expanded Wind Festival and the new Sims Park Concert Series on the Lakefront were welcome additions to the many summer activities that take place in Euclid.  The Wind Festival attracted thousands of visitors to our Lakefront, and made for a fun summer afternoon on the beach.  The Thursday Evening Concerts provided a taste of diverse musical performers, food trucks and allowed attendees to enjoy beautiful sunsets in the company of friends and family.  These events were well received by residents of Euclid, as well as neighboring communities and should become standard events for years to come.

The City of Euclid is fortunate to have Directors, Chiefs and Managers with extensive years of experience and dedication to public service.  We are also fortunate to have over 350 employees that understand their responsibility to the residents and perform their duties on a daily basis to the best of their abilities and beyond.

We have engaged Kent State University to conduct two classes of Lean Ohio Training to almost two dozen employees. This training helps develop a team oriented, organized system of process improvement and problem solving.  This past month, these employees met with management and identified specific team projects within city operations that they feel need improvement. These range from expansion of on-line applications and permits, to streamlining of internal procedures, to creating emergency action plans for city buildings.  I have committed full cooperation and assistance and we are all looking forward to the results.  It is our intention to hold additional training sessions this summer.  New ways of thinking, combined with years of experience and both customer and employee participation in the operations of their Departments is a recipe for success.

I receive many compliments from residents for providing the EUCLID CONNECT telephone notifications and this service will continue.  The software system provides additional possibilities in the area of revenue enhancement.  I will be convening a meeting this month with personnel in the various Departments that handle permitting and revenue collection to explore how we can use this new technology to increase our collection and compliance rates, by possibly sending friendly reminders and notifications.

The City of Euclid was recently presented the “Ohio Auditor of State Award With Distinction” for excellence in financial reporting for the Comprehensive Annual Financial Report for the fiscal year ending December 31, 2013.  Only about 5% of municipalities receive this recognition, and I thank the Finance Department employees for their hard work in earning this achievement.   It is imperative that we responsibly account for the tax dollars of our residents and this award recognizes that we are doing just that.

I would like to conclude by thanking the residents of Euclid for making it the great city that it is. We have challenges to face and with your help we will meet them.  Thank you for all of your assistance and support.

God Bless and Good Night.