Century Church Celebrated

Council 11.06.2006

Another Lakewood church reached the 100 year milestone. City council and Mayor Thomas George recognized the United Latvian Evangelical Lutheran Church in a resolution introduced by council member Nickie Antonio (at large). The church is located at the corner of Andrews and Detroit and this congregation has worshipped at that location since 1963. The church has been at the center of Latvian heritage and activities for that community in Northeast Ohio for its 100 year history. One of the rites of Lakewood springtime is witnessing many dozens of the church members sprucing up the grounds on a spring Sunday.

The State Auditor's Office has concluded an extensive audit of the finances of Lakewood. This is the first audit of its kind since 2000. The city received an unqualified audit opinion, which means the Auditor of State has no reservations concerning the financial statements presented and that there were no deficiencies in the financial statements or the accounting standards employed by the city.

Finance Director Jennifer Pae was a past employee of the State Auditor's Office and knows the importance of accurate financial reporting. While perhaps not as glamorous as a first responder receiving an award for saving a life, municipal "bean counters" have their own recognition. In this case, Lakewood will receive for 2005 the Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting and a second Distinguished Budget Presentation Award from the Government Financial Officers Association.

Along with this past excellent record, Pae will push for updates that she feels are needed in the area of purchasing and contracting.

This past year has seen some of the most intense construction activity in Lakewood over the past few decades. Preceding public construction or improvements is the design and planning conducted by various agencies. So, a predictor of next year's activities can be seen in this year's design contracts. One contract in the amount of $93,750 is being awarded to City Architecture Inc. for a Detroit Avenue Streetscape Study. This is part of the Mainstreet Study and is centered on Detroit Avenue.

A second contract is with Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency for planning improved pedestrian access to the Cleveland Metroparks at Hogsback Lane. The other two Lakewood entrances have been rebuilt in the past few years and Hogsback is the last Lakewood entrance to be rebuilt. It serves a large number of Lakewood and Cleveland residents. In the early spring, a party of five hiked the area to gather some preliminary ideas about trails and access to that area of the "valley." The group included Planning Director Thomas Jordan, Ward One council member Kevin Butler, Planning Commission member William Grulich, neighborhood resident Keith Johnson, Common Pleas Judge Timothy McGinty who lives nearby, and this reporter.

McGinty is an avid runner and hiker. He was instrumental in suggesting improvements to barrier walls as part of the Riverside Drive reconstruction and has insights to improve pedestrian access, bicycle paths, and hiking trails. Interested visitors should keep an eye open for public meetings on the Hogsback rebuilding.

A perennial controversial topic in government is the salary of elected officials. In Lakewood the mayor's salary has remained the same for over a decade and council pay has been constant for over 25 years. It has been felt by several groups including charter review commissions, civil service commissions, and citizen government groups that those two salaries should be raised to attract a wide pool of candidates and be competitive with other cities.

Different proposals have been put forward by council members. One civil service commission member, James Westfall, has proposed that the mayor's salary be increased gradually, in increments of $2500 over a number of years instead of one big increase. Council member Ryan Demro (ward two) has offered an increase in council salaries and the mayor's salary.

In the previous Lakewood Observer city council article, it was incorrectly reported that Kevin Butler proposed an increase in salary for mayor and council. In an email correction Butler pointed out that, "My proposal only dealt with the position of mayor. I am not a proponent of increasing the salary of council."

The various proposals have been heard by the committee of the whole and have had two readings in front of council. A third reading on the pay raise for council failed with Butler, Michael Dever (at large) Antonio, and Edward Fitzgerald (at large) voting against.

The measure regarding the mayor's salary is still in front of council. In corridor comments, Mayor George indicated that he is "seriously considering vetoing any pay raise ordinance for the office of mayor."

The meeting was adjourned at 9:15.
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Volume 2, Issue 23, Posted 10:10 AM, 11.12.06