CAC - February 23rd 2015

Mayfield Village Citizens Advisory Committee
Meeting Minutes
February 23, 2015

The Citizens Advisory Committee met on Monday, Feb 23, 2015 at 7:00 p.m. at the Civic Center.

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Present: Brenda Bodnar (Chair), Shirley Jay, George Williams, Merv Singer, Tom Piteo, Sandy Batcheller, Mary Singer, Carole Marrie, and Kay Phillips

Absent:  Joan Catalano, Bob Haycox, Marilyn LaRiche-Goldstein, and Loretta Williams

Also Present

Tom Marrie, Council Representative
Steve Jerome, Council Representative
Patsy Mills, Council Representative
Diane Wolgamuth, Director of Administration
Richard Edelman, Chief of Police
Eugene Carcioppolo, Fire Chief
Residents Paula and Ron Lear

Approval of Minutes

Mrs. Bodnar opened the meeting and introduced Chief Edelman and Chief Carcioppolo.  The Minutes from the Jan 20, 2015 meeting were unanimously approved as written.

Consolidated Dispatch

Chief Edelman asked if everyone in attendance has a cell phone and if they know what happens when they use it to call 911.  Chief Edelman described that all cell phone calls are routed through CECOMS (Cuyahoga County Emergency Communications) before ultimately coming to Mayfield Village.  Chief Edelman reviewed with the Committee the PowerPoint presentation made to Council on Jan 26, 2015 (copy attached).       

Chief Edelman described the current dispatch unit as having five full-time and three part-time dispatchers with a budget of just over $500,000, most of which is wages and benefits.  He described the radio system as being older with a high cost to upgrade to bring to current technological standards. He explained that the call volume of 11,000 does not represent actual calls for service, but CAD (Computer Aided Dispatch) entries that require the Police or Fire Departments to respond in some way.

Chief Edelman described the work of the SPAN communities and that they have worked together and shared resources since 1973.  He stated that consolidation of dispatch is not a new idea.  It has been discussed for years but has recently become a hot topic in Cuyahoga County.  Much of the reason for this is financial.  “Dispatch consolidation is common all over the country; Cuyahoga County is actually a latecomer.”

Chief Carcioppolo elaborated, stating that Cuyahoga County has approximately 50 local governments right next to each other.  Other areas and other counties are more operationally efficient.  A recent study completed by the Ohio Department of Administrative Services showed that Pennsylvania has 151 PSAPs (Public Safety Answering Point) while Ohio has 320.  Of those 320, Cuyahoga County has 48.  Chief Carcioppolo stated that consolidated dispatch is a model for the country.  “While everyone wants to keep their kingdoms intact, they can’t compete with the efficiencies of consolidation.”

Chief Edelman stated that in 2013, Cuyahoga County funded a study performed by Cleveland State University.  The County’s goal over the next several years is to take the 48 PSAPs and whittle them down to four or five.  The City of Cleveland will definitely be one of them while the others will likely be located in Parma, Bedford, and Beachwood. 

Chief Edelman explained again that all cellular 911 calls are currently routed to the County.  “They are building a new center for the entire County that is expected to open before the Republican National Convention in 2016.  The County has invited Mayfield Village and all the SPAN communities to be a part of this.  They want us to be a part on the ground level.  We said, this is a great opportunity for Mayfield Village.”  Chief Edelman stated that the financial savings, while attractive, are not a major part of the decision for Mayfield Village as we are fortunate to have a healthy tax base.  “This is not true for all the SPAN communities.”

Chief Carcioppolo explained that State legislation will limit funding to four to five centers in Ohio.  “In 2018, if you are not one of the identified PSAPs, you will not get any funding to upgrade equipment.”  Chief Carcioppolo stated that this is what has pushed the consolidation issue to the forefront.

Chief Edelman advised that, nationally, 70% of all 911 calls are made on a cell phone; locally, that number is 50%.  “Operating the way we have historically is no longer feasible.”  Chief Edelman described that he and Chief Carcioppolo worked up numbers to host a PSAP in Mayfield Village.  Unfortunately, it required a $1.2 million capital investment to get it up and running that the other SPAN cities could not afford.  At that point, less than two months ago, both the County and Chagrin Valley Dispatch (CVD) provided proposals to the SPAN communities for substantially less money. 

Chief Edelman reviewed the Village’s objectives:

  • Provide an equal or improved level of service to residents.
  • Cost sharing that results in savings for all participating communities.
  • Keep Hillcrest/SPAN communities together.
  • Provide the best opportunity for current Dispatch staff to be re-hired.
  • Have a stronger voice in the implementation of regionalization of dispatch services in the near and long term.

 

Chief Edelman stated that he is confident that if Mayfield Villages makes a move toward consolidation, the other SPAN cities will join us.  Both CVD and the County have said that they will look favorably at hiring Mayfield Village dispatchers, which is an important issue.  Over the last two months, Chief Edelman has learned that of his five full-time dispatchers, three have secured other positions and one is retiring.

Chief Edelman summarized what he sees as the two current options:

  • Chagrin Valley Dispatch is located in Bedford Hospital.  They currently dispatch to 12 cities and recently added Euclid.  They have a fully-operational center.
  • CECOMS (the County) is new to dispatching and only dispatch for Olmsted Township.  They currently only take and transfer 911 calls.  That is one of the reasons that they are soliciting the SPAN communities.  It is in the County’s best interest to utilize our years of experience and expertise.

 

Chief Carcioppolo further described how cellular 911 calls work.  “Time is lost when a 911 call is made from a cell phone.  It takes time to figure out where you are and transfer the call to appropriate city.  If all calls are answered in the same dispatch center, the CAD software will identify your location and dispatch the closest vehicle available.”  Chief Carcioppolo added that CECOMS is the only agency that current answers 911 cellular calls.  “If Mayfield Village goes to CECOMS, all calls will go to the County and the dispatch process will start immediately.” 

Chief Carcioppolo described that the mutual aid process will also be faster as the computer will calculate what is needed and “tone out” for response.  Currently, calls have to be made to the other cities to see if assistance is available. 

Chief Carcioppolo stated that he subscribes to the philosophy that “time is tissue”, which is an example cited by Chief Neumann of the Richmond Heights Fire Department of how critical time could be to an emergency medical call,  meaning that, without oxygen, brain tissue begins to die within four minutes.  “In emergency situations, it is critical to get help there as quickly as possible and a minute or two can make a big difference.”

Mr. Singer asked if the Chiefs were recommending that the Village keep dispatch in Mayfield Village or regionalize.  Chief Carcioppolo responded that he is 100% sure that we need to regionalize.

Chief Edelman reviewed the cost differences between regionalizing with the County and remaining independent.  “There is a staggering amount of savings--$168,000 vs. almost $1 million in 2015.”

Chief Edelman described some of the operational differences between CVD and CECOMS.  “The main difference is how cell calls are handled.  CVD operates under a Council of Governments where each participating city has a vote.  Their operations are already established.  We would have to live with that.  CECOMS wants us to be part of their new center, on the ground floor.”

Mrs. Batcheller asked how communities in the County will be divided and how many communities each center would handle.  Chief Edelman responded that all centers are different and that, right now, CECOMS is only dispatching for Olmsted Township. 

Chief Carcioppolo stated the CVD will be self-funded going forward.  He added that under the Council of Government’s style, the cities are part-owners.  All capital costs for upgrading equipment will be shared and the cities also share in the liability if a mistake is made.  With the County, the cities pay a user fee and the County is responsible for any errors.

Mrs. Jay asked why Highland Heights is not participating.  Chief Edelman responded that, for now, they want to stay on their own.  Mr. Jerome added that they also have a jail issue.

Mr. Piteo asked if there was a maximum number of cities that could be in CECOMS.  Chief Carcioppolo responded that they will have the ability to expand at their new center.  Chief Edelman added that some communities are already committed elsewhere and CECOMS will not need to dispatch to the entire County.

Mr. Marrie stated that the points that are important to him are that the County is opening a new operation and wants the SPAN communities.  SPAN has been in business a long time and the cities work together well. 

Mr. Piteo asked if the cost increases to $200,000 per year if the Village goes to the County without the other SPAN community.  Chief Edelman confirmed that number. 

Mrs. Batcheller asked if Council needs to approve any move to consolidation.  Chief Edelman responded affirmatively.  Mr. Marrie stated that the Chiefs have been working on this issue for a year and a half.  Now it is getting serious and Council has asked the Chiefs to show what and why.  “We’ve all gotten a lot of information tonight.  The Chiefs will now be finalizing their recommendation.”

Chief Edelman stated that he understands that this is a lot of information to digest.  Mrs. Mills asked if there is a deadline to make a decision.  Chief Edelman responded that there is no hard deadline, but the longer we wait, we lose the opportunity to get in on the ground floor.  At CVD, we would be one of the last communities to join.

Mrs. Mills asked if the Law Director will look at the contract.  Mr. Marrie responded that we don’t have a contract yet.  Chief Edelman agreed, adding that he anticipates that he and Chief Carcioppolo will provide their recommendation to Council and ask the Law Director to draft legislation to enter into a contract. 

Mr. Jerome asked about any effect from the dispatchers leaving.  Chief Edelman agreed that it is a concern but he will find a way to staff temporarily.

Mrs. Batcheller asked if the other communities are also going to their Councils.  Chief Carcioppolo advised that one of the other SPAN communities is at the same stage as the Village.  Another is close and another is still on the fence.  Chief Carcioppolo stated that from the Fire side, all the SPAN Chiefs are supportive of CECOMS over CVD at this time.  Chief Edelman stated that CECOMS is a County agency; he feels it is essential for us to be a part of the process.

Chief Edelman stated that the main concern he has heard from residents is loss of personal touch.  His goal is to make sure that doesn’t happen.  It will not be exactly the same and there will be some growing pains, but the phones will be answered and he believes it doesn’t really matter where they are answered.

Mr. Marrie thanked both Chiefs.  He added that the economics is one thing, but it is clear that the Chiefs want more efficiency and a safer process.  “We can’t stand on the side and watch the parade go by.” 

Mrs. Bodnar thanked the Chiefs for all their efforts.  She added it is obvious that they care about the community.

Mrs. Bodnar asked Chief Edelman to comment about a postcard she received from nextdoor.com.  She was unsure if the organization is legitimate and was concerned because it requested personal information.  Chief Edelman stated that he had not heard of the website and asked IT Coordinator Jeff Thomas about it.  Mr. Thomas advised that it is nothing more than a way for neighbors to speak to each other on-line.  Mrs. Batcheller said she recently heard a story about it on television.  Someone lost their heat and their neighbors knew they needed help through the site.  Chief Edelman stated that he generally does not like to share personal information on the internet.

[Chief Edelman and Chief Carcioppolo left the meeting at approx. 8:10 p.m.]

Mr. Jerome commented that he has spoken with many residents that are concerned about dispatch consolidation.  He suggested that they step back and take a look at why this is being considered, including changes in technology.  Mrs. Bodnar agreed, stating that they need to understand that with cell calls, response is more direct. 

Mr. Marrie stated that he had been concerned about being a little fish in a big pond, but he is no longer concerned.  “As Chief Carcioppolo stated, time is tissue.” 

Mr. Piteo stated that he believes we need to think as a country and need to consolidate to become more efficient.  Mr. Jerome added, “people don’t understand that it will be better.” 

Council Update

Mr. Marrie reported on the following items:

  • Dispatch consolidation is obviously a current topic.
  • The 2015 Budget is being reviewed.  Finance Chairman Saponaro is going through the budget in great detail with Finance Director Wynne.
  • Recent equipment purchases include 3 new police cars and a new fire engine.
  • A traffic study is being done for the Community Room project to provide better traffic flow for the Community Room and Center School.  A new building is going to be built closer to Wilson Mills.  The resident survey indicated that upgrading the old building was preferred, but we ran into large costs.  “For $300,000 more, we can build a new, more efficient building with the amenities that we want.”
  • The North Commons Development is moving forward.
  • Assistant Law Director Diane Calta has left Diemert & Associates and moved to a new downtown law firm.
  • This summer, the Village will do another traffic study to see about adding a crosswalk from Sandalwood to the Fire Station.
  • The Charter Review Commission is up and running.  Any changes recommended will be on the ballot in November.

 

Mr. Marrie commented that, in his opinion, the Chiefs and the other Village Department Heads do a great job.  Overall, we have a great operation and this Committee helps keep it that way.

Mrs. Jay asked if there would be additional opportunity for this Committee to comment on the design of the Community Room.  Mrs. Mills stated that a separate committee is being appointed that will include people who use the Community Room on a regular basis.  Mr. Marrie added that the Citizens Advisory Committee would absolutely have more opportunities to review the design before it is finalized.

Upcoming Events

Ms. Wolgamuth provided the Committee with a flyer regarding the free Green Cleaning Workshop scheduled for Wed, March 4 and encouraged everyone to attend.  She also provided a flyer regarding a Stand-Up Comedy night being hosted at the Civic Center on March 14th by the Conservatory for Performing Arts.  Bill Squire from WMMS is the headliner and there will be two additional comedians performing that evening.

Mrs. Mills advised that Shred Day is scheduled for May 16.  She also stated that volunteers are needed for Pancake Breakfast.

Mrs. Singer reminded everyone of the Memorial Day ceremony and advised that Mr. Marrie will be the master of ceremonies.

Mrs. Batcheller stated that she is very happy to see that the narrow portion of sidewalk on Wilson Mills is being plowed.  Mr. Piteo agreed and stated that he walks in this area often.

Upcoming Meetings

Upcoming meetings of the Citizens Advisory Committee are scheduled as follows:

Monday, Mar 23
Monday, Apr 27
Tuesday, May 26

The meeting was adjourned at 8:30 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,
Diane Wolgamuth, Director of Administration