MAYOR OF NORTH OLMSTED SEEKS SECOND TERM
Mayor Kennedy is a third generation North Olmsted resident. The Kennedy family settled in North Olmsted in 1932 when most of the city was farm land. John Kennedy, the Mayor’s father, was a Fire Fighter in the North Olmsted Fire Department, and his mother Kathy works in the North Olmsted school system. His four children, Jackie, Jamie, Kellie, and Ryan, attend North Olmsted Schools and are being raised in his childhood home. Generations of Commitment to Public Service Declining City Debt Services The Mayor is a graduate of St. Richard Elementary School, St. Edward High School, and Ashland University holding a Bachelor's degree in Business Administration with a double major of Marketing/Management. With a background in the private sector, establishing and operating an international computer business, the Mayor has utilized his knowledge to lead the City into a thriving business and residential community.
In 2010 the City was introduced to a new automated trash collection system. Kennedy appreciates the residents’ support during the transition and is also very proud of the recycling efforts made by the residents. In 2012 the total percent-age of the community’s residential waste that was diverted from landfill through recycling and composting activities was 52%. With the recycling efforts made by the community, Kennedy’s administration was able to renew the City’s trash collection with a savings of over $600,000 per year.
For the first time in North Olmsted, the City and the schools have a shared facility agreement in place. The Mayor’s administration is working very closely with the schools to secure a safe environment for our students and staff members creating the first ever Safety Committee with city and school administrators. The Mayor is active in assisting the schools in moving forward as they look to improve and streamline their approach to buildings, academics, and technology. The Mayor recognizes the vital importance of supporting our schools to strengthen the future of North Olmsted. Having four children in the schools, the Mayor realizes how significant it is to work together for the betterment of the our families, students, residents and all of the tax paying public.
In 2011, the City experienced some devastating flooding issues. The Mayor took action and held public meetings to share the City’s plan for how we will lessen these problems. The Mayor vowed to keep focused on this issue and has done so with improved water retention, upgrades to our equipment including a new camera and Vactor truck, constant maintenance and cleaning of our catch basins and laterals, creation of an expanded 6-man storm crew and major upgrades to Wastewater Treatment Plant and Collection Systems.
In 2011 and 2012, under Kennedy’s administration, there has been $87 million invested in development and redevelopment. In January 2013 the city celebrated the grand opening of Burlington Coat Factory, and at the end of 2013 Westfield will be opening Regal Cinema’s state-of-the art all digital ten screen movie complex.
OVER $10 MILLION IN GRANTS
The City of North Olmsted has received over $10 million in grants from the County, Environmental Protection Agency, and various other Federal agencies. The Mayor is keeping a campaign pledge to pursue grants that are available to the City.
DECLINING DEBT SERVICES
During Kennedy’s first term, his administration took a hardline approach to ensure the city reduces its debt services now to provide a strong and stable city for years to come.
Much of what we accomplished during my first term is because of the great people around me. Some of those people I have hired, but some you have elected. Thank you for putting together a team that is focused on working together to keep moving the city forward. For the first time in long time, you have a Mayor and a city council that respect each other. For a city to thrive, this is a must.
~ Mayor Kevin M. Kennedy
Mayor Kennedy officially announced he will be seeking a second term as Mayor of the City of North Olmsted. Kennedy took office in 2010 and committed to move the City forward by laying out a plan for the future of North Olmsted. During his first term the focus of his administration was to achieve what he had promised to the residents.
Kennedy listened to the residents, and committed to making strategic investments and developing new initiatives that would stimulate growth and reduce costs to the City without raising taxes. He set the tone of his administration by not accepting a city vehicle or city phone. Residents overwhelmingly supported Kennedy’s Issue 34 in 2010, which removed Directors positions from the charter and helped streamline the City’s government. Kennedy created a balance that redistributed departmental responsibilities to run more efficiently while saving the city hundreds of thousands of dollars.
By also targeting revenue enhancement initiatives, the Mayor has been able to direct cash flow back to the city. The introduction of the Mayor’s Court in January 2013 has generated revenues partially off-setting the anticipated decline of revenue provided by the state to local governments. With 87 million dollars in business development in 2011 and 2012, the City has seen a recovered and thriving business economy.
In response to flooding in 2011, a new maintenance program has been implemented including improvements to the Dover Pump Station and a new Vactor Truck to assist in keeping the water flowing.
A major focus of Mayor Kennedy is to find cost effective measures to strengthen the city’s infrastructure. Entering his first term the Mayor evaluated the City’s resources and found avenues to enhance the quality of city services. In 2011, with the renovation of the sand traps and the new greens drainage system, Springvale Golf Course accumulated an additional $75,000 in revenues. The Recreation Center has installed new lighting, new chillers for the ice rink, and in 2013 began the retrofitting of the building to accommodate a fitness facility. With the upgrade of the center’s amenities, new programs were introduced to provide more diverse activities to our residents and guests.
Committed to beautifying our City, his administration has made vast efforts to improve property maintenance and to rejuvenate vacant properties. Grant funding has contributed to projects such as Country Club Boulevard Streetscape. Kennedy is focused on moving into a modern more efficient city environment.
The Mayor has been able to communicate clearly with city leaders and constituents by allowing everyone to have a seat at the table. City leaders in the safety forces and service departments were able to finalize union contracts saving the city the cost of using an outside source. The Mayor also negotiated a garbage collection contract that saved the city $600,000 per year. Through his leadership, the Mayor delivered prosperous results to the citizens of North Olmsted.
Endorsements & Recognitions
Member of the Cuyahoga County Landbank Board
Board of Directors of the Senior Transportation Connection
Ohio State Auditor David Yost’s Taxpayer Hero Award
#2 Best Value 2012 Suburbs City of North Olmsted
There is only so much money to go around in the city of North Olmsted, so you decide what is more important. The choice: spend $190,000 on upper management or increase city services for you, the tax payer. If you would prefer to spend your money on actual city services,
Vote YES on issue 34.
Independent Information for Voters to Know
North Olmsted puts wage concessions, reduced tax credits on table to avert layoffs - Marvin Fong/The Plain Dealer
NORTH OLMSTED — The city could avert layoffs slated for the end of the year if unions agree to wage cutbacks and council reduces the tax credit for residents who work outside the city, Mayor Thomas O'Grady said.
But council intends to closely examine city spending before it considers the mayor's request to reduce the income tax credit.
And police and fire union leaders said they have no guarantees from the city that there will be no layoffs if they agree to wage concessions. A looming $2 million deficit is forcing the city to take a hard look at how it is spending its $20 million budget.
Layoff notices effective Dec. 31 have been issued to 15 workers -- five police officers, five firefighters and five municipal employees. O'Grady said that number could double if the unions and council fail to act soon.
"It's absolutely heartbreaking to do," O'Grady said of the pending layoffs. Steep declines in income tax and property tax revenues this year are expected to continue, making cuts in personnel necessary, he said.
"No one saw the extent of this economic crisis coming," the mayor said.
Residents pay a 2-percent income tax to North Olmsted. A 100 percent credit is given to those who pay taxes to the city in which they work. O'Grady wants council to reduce the credit so residents who work elsewhere pay North Olmsted at least 1 percent. This would add up to about $500 in new taxes for a person who is employed outside North Olmsted and earns $50,000. O'Grady said the proposed change would last four years.
Council members said they will scrutinize all city spending and salaries, including travel, vehicles and more.
The review will go well into January, Councilman-at-large Michael Gareau Jr. said. "Everything is on the table," he said.
"No one on council wants to raise taxes on residents," said Ward 4 Councilman Lawrence Orlowski, "but at the same time we don't want to decimate safety forces." The city is in contract negotiations with the police and firefighters unions. Contracts expire at the end of the year for the 55 police officers and 47 firefighters.
Unions have not closed the door on concessions.
"We understand that times are bad, but we're getting mixed signals. The city won't guarantee that layoffs will be averted with concessions," said police union spokesman Bill Saringer.
Union leaders say response times and safety are their top priorities.
"When there's an economic downturn, there's an increase in crime," Saringer said, "Even in a community like North Olmsted."
Fewer firefighters may force the city to temporarily close one of the two fire stations during various shifts, union spokesman David Boatman said. "We barely have enough firefighters to handle a basic house fire."
O'Grady insists that the pending cuts would not jeopardize public safety.
Marvin Fong/The Plain Dealer
O'Grady: More layoffs possible - Jeff Gallatin/West Life Newspaper
Mayor Thomas O’Grady said there could be more layoffs of city workers than the 15 already scheduled unless City Council passes the administration’s temporary reduction in the income tax credit for residents who work outside the city from 100 to 50 percent.
“Our projections are based on that being approved and being part of the budget,” said O’Grady. “We came up with the figure of 15 with the premise that we would have the temporary change in the income tax credit. If we don’t get that I would anticipate there being 25 to 30 people being laid off instead of the 15. I’ll be presenting that proposal to city council this week.”
City officials mailed notices in late November to five police officers, five firefighters and five members of the American Federation of State and Municipal employees saying they would be laid off effective midnight Dec. 31. O’Grady and administration officials have cited the tough economic times and the city having a projected deficit of $1.5 million or more between city expenses and anticipated revenue for the 2009 budget.
“These are totally unprecedented times,” said O’Grady. “We haven’t seen financial conditions like this in decades. We are having to make some very tough decisions. So, I’m making the decision and presenting this administration’s plan to City Council.”
O’Grady said his plan is not a permanent reduction in the tax credit. It would not take effect for a year.
“It has a definite sunset clause to it,” said O’Grady. “This is not something we want to do permanently to residents. The legislation will have a clause which stops it after a maximum of four years.”
O’Grady said if the city can put the 100 percent credit back in place sooner it will.
“If economic conditions show us that we can put it back before the end of four years, then we will do so,” he said. “Right now, we’re planning based on tough economic times. I wanted something put into place which does not harm those unable to pay for it, like the senior citizens or those on fixed incomes.’
Administration officials estimate the city will bring in an additional $760,000 to the general fund and $160,000 each to the permanent improvement street and storm fund and the solid waste and recycling fund. The second year projections are $2.7 million for the general fund and $588,000 for the two aforementioned funds.
As an example finance officials said if a resident works in Cleveland and makes $50,000 annually, they currently pay Cleveland $1,000 for its two percent withholding tax and North Olmsted gets no dollars, with all the taxes going to Cleveland. In the 50 percent plan proposed by O’Grady, North Olmsted would accept $500 of the money paid to Cleveland as withholding towards North Olmsted and then it would have to pay another $500 directly to North Olmsted.
City Council has set a special meeting for 9:30 a.m. this Saturday at City Hall to discuss the budget situation. Council Finance Committee Chairman Michael Gareau Jr. said he anticipates a long meeting.
“We’ll be there awhile because we are going to go over every line item in that budget and cut out any unnecessary expenses,” Gareau said. “We are going to do everything in our power to preserve city jobs and services.”
Gareau said he still wishes the mayor had presented more information sooner to council.
“It’s December and we’ve been asking for information about the financial situation all year,” he said. “We have a budget they’ve given to us but it still doesn’t have the figures or revenue projections we need to work with on this.”
Gareau said council will work hard to avoid the current projected layoffs or any additional ones.
“We’re going to examine everything in the budget, the mayor’s proposal anything which will affect the city services for residents,” he said. “Council has to consider the proposal and all it entails.”
Gareau also said he wants the council and city employees to work together.
“We will be reaching out to the city employees and their representatives and would hope that we can work together to do everything we can to preserve city jobs and services,” Gareau said.
Bill Saringer, a spokesman for the city police negotiating committee who also spoke at the Dec. 2 City Council meeting, said at that meeting the mayor’s decision to cut five full time officers from the city will cause problems.
“When the department is already down two officers, has another retiring soon and another soon to be deployed to Iraq, it simply put is a serious public safety issues for residents,” Saringer said.
He noted that laying off the officers would result in a reduction of shifts manpower which would result in longer response times.
“Response times will suffer when an officer is working the road and gets that hot 911 call and all other units are tied up on calls,” “In that situation we will have to rely on a neighboring jurisdiction to provide assistance from much farther away, inevitably taking much longer to respond.”
Dan Coyle, a member of the firefighters union executive board, said service and training for that department will suffer as well. Coyle, who is a paramedic for Westshore SWAT teams, said that those units could suffer as well because of the cutbacks.
Saringer said later the police are committed to trying to work with the city.
“Our goal is to preserve those jobs and services,” he said. “We have concerns that the mayor is not fully communicating all the information to us to properly discuss what we can do to work on these issues,” Saringer said.
Dave Boatman, head of the firefighters union, said his group also aims to try and preserve jobs.
“We are trying to work with the city,” Boatman said. “But, we have concerns when we hear that there could be additional layoffs unless we do things a specific way. We would like to try and work together to find the best ways to try and avoid cuts in workers and services.”
O’Grady said the administration is working on the best solutions in a bad situation.
“We do not have good choices in this,” he said. “We’re making the best decisions we can in terrible times.”
By Jeff Gallatin
Published Dec. 10, 2008
Sewer Rate Increases Proposed - Jeff Gallatin/West Life Newspaper
After a dozen years without a sanitary sewer rate increase, city officials are expected to consider four straight years of 9.5 percent annual ones beginning in 2008.
City Council has scheduled a committee of the whole meeting for 7 p.m. tonight at City Hall where Mayor Thomas O’Grady’s administration will present the results of an operations, sanitary sewer rate and staffing study done by ATS Engineering Inc., for the city. One recommendation of the study is that the city impose a 9.5 percent increase in January 2008 to address a projected $300,000 budget deficit in 2007 as well as develop “necessary” plant capital improvements and changes. In addition, the study recommends the city implement additional 9.5 percent rate increases for 2009, 2010 and 2011 plus evaluating possible yearly increases for 2012 and beyond to “insure proper operating budget is maintained,” the study says.
O’Grady said the city has come to a financial position where it has to do something.
“I’ve been mayor for two years and was on council for 10 years before that, and in all that time the city has never sought another rate increase since the last one was approved in the mid-90s,” O’Grady said. “The last increase went into effect about the time I started city service, and I’m one of the senior public officials in the city. That says something because when the last increase was approved, it was supposed to last five years until 2000, and we’ve made it last longer. Now we’ve got to make some changes.”
The proposed 9.5 percent increases for the next four years and what they would cost for a sewer user of 1,000 cubic feet a month are current, $36.24; 2008, $39.81; 2009, $43.60; 2010, $47.74; 2011, $52.27.
O’Grady said the city would not be seeking rate increases without having a plan for what to do.
“We need to bring the plant up to speed in technology and other areas,” O’Grady said. “Those increases will allow us to bring needed technology and improvements which will improve the facilities and provide better services for city customers.”
Service Director Duane Limpert cited as one example putting in automatic rakes for stirring the sludge and waste products in the plant.
“Right now, we’ve got to have an employee lean out and do that with a rake manually,” Limpert said. “Putting in a rate increase would allow us to install those automatic rakes and other equipment which would make it a more modern facility.”
Limpert said if customers compare the city’s projected rates with those of the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District, which serves other area communities, they should factor in the fact NEORSD rates don’t include the local community cost for operation and maintenance of their collection systems.
“That adds even more money to the equation for regional sewer customers,” Limpert said while examining the current North Olmsted cost of $36.26 compared to the regional district’s rate of $35.70 per 1,000 cubic feet of monthly use.
Both O’Grady and Limpert said the new technology will ultimately allow the city to reduce manpower costs. They both also said, however, they would not be cutting people from the payroll.
“We have a number of people coming up for retirement,” said Limpert. “As people retire, we plan to phase in the new technology to absorb the new responsibilities.”
O’Grady said the administration will be working with council on the rates.
Council members said they will be studying the matter closely.
“It’s just a sad thing,” said Finance Committee Chairman Ron Tallon.
“We clearly need to take some action because the plant has needed to be worked on for years. There’s no good time to put in a rate increase. But if we tried to do it in the last 20 years we really didn’t have enough money then either.”
Tallon said he wants to be sure city employees are protected.
“If we need to put in new technology, that’s great, then do what is needed,” Tallon said. “But don’t cut people or jobs just to cut. I don’t want us to put something new in place and then discover we don’t have the proper people to handle the equipment.”
Paul Miller, chairman of council’s environmental control committee, said he wants to make sure the city makes the right moves.
“We need to make sure that we have the plans in place so we can get the maximum use out of any increase if one is implemented,” Miller said. “We need to make sure that our plan is sound.”
Councilman-at-large Michael Gareau Jr. said the study and further consideration by council was necessary before any increase is mulled.
“You can’t just rush into something,” Gareau said. “We needed to pinpoint what needed to be done and ideally, that’s been done with the study. Now we need to move ahead with the proper moves.”
By Jeff Gallatin
Published Sept. 12, 2007