Willoughby Hills budget set to be presented to council

Jan. 20—A number of new safety initiatives are being sought in the Willoughby Hills budget for this year, according to Mayor Andy Gardner.

In addition to adding two full-time police officer positions, which will increase night shift staffing to five officers, Willoughby Hills Fire Department plans to increase its staffing to six firefighters per shift. Funding to add a new ambulance to the fire department fleet, replacing the current 2006 reserve ambulance, and funding for four new police vehicles to be ordered in 2023 for delivery in 2024 are also included in the proposed budget.

"The administration's proposed budget for the year will be presented to council in the next few weeks," Gardner said. "Once submitted, council has told me that they anticipate holding budget meetings with myself, Chief (Matthew) Naegele, Chief (Robert) Gandee and Road Superintendent (Mark) Grubiss. I hope that we will be able to schedule these prior to the end of the month."

On the infrastructure side of things, council's most recent agenda included legislation to start the necessary engineering services for the 2023 sewer rehabilitation and street maintenance programs.

"The sewer rehabilitation will continue the program that we have undertaken for the last several years to inspect and seal the sewers to prevent water intrusion," Gardner said.

In regard to the road program for this year, the city is planning to resurface Pleasant Valley Road, west of the single-lane bridge, undertake a rejuvenation of the new pavement on Legend Lane and paint new markings on city streets.

In addition, the city will be funding the required engineering and paying the city's share for the resurfacing of Chardon Road, west of SOM Center Road, in 2024.

Council has authorized the administration to start obtaining bids for road salt, asphalt and limestone to be used this year and into 2024. It has also expressed interest in examining a number of issues throughout the year.

In addition to the Deer Management Committee, chaired by Councilwoman Julie Belich, a new committee to be chaired by Councilman Daniel Knecht will be evaluating the charter's current referendum zoning requirement.

Councilwoman Tanya Taylor Draper is continuing to move forward with the creation of a new ordinance to set forth requirements to post signs informing the public of new subdivisions or projects. The Law Department continues to monitor the General Assembly's legislation that would prohibit local regulation of short-term property rentals.