GATES MILLS — In a year full of unexpected changes, Gates Mills in 2020 adapted to the pandemic environment and planned for the future.

Village Treasurer Tim Reynolds reported a $450,000 deficit, noting that the village needed a permanent fix. He led the Long Range Financial Planning Commission, which met for much of last year, to find other ways to increase revenue and cut expenditures. Three subcommittees presented their findings in September of 2020 then council met to discuss the recommendations.

Mr. Reynolds said that the police and service departments should focus on overtime control and the village should ensure that it is billing Mayfield Village appropriate and fair amounts for EMS services. Gates Mills village officials also plan to dig into the fee structure at Chagrin Valley Dispatch to make sure that the fees are allocated fairly. The village plans to work with AKE Environmental and Construction Services to operate the wastewater treatment plant instead of working with Cuyahoga County, which will save about $120,000 per year, Mr. Reynolds said.

Resident Warren Morris will lead a task force to review the village’s leases on various properties to ensure that they have fair terms. The Real Estate Committee will also review what land the village owns that could be sold to neighboring property owners. Mr. Reynolds said that the village increased the fee schedule for the mayor’s court. Officials also plan to sunset their arrangement of providing residents with an alarm system because few people use it.

He said that there is a possibility of building a cell tower to improve cell service in Gates Mills and solicit carriers. Mr. Reynolds said the village is investigating the possibility of additional cable and Internet suppliers.

Last summer, villagers were not willing to give up their annual Independence Day parade. The parade usually travels half a mile through the main drag of Gates Mills, where many people line the streets to see the floats, the mayor, council members, Mayfield Board of Education members, the superintendent and more. The COVID-19 pandemic forced the residents to be creative this time.

Rather than having a short parade in the middle of town, the parade traveled through 20 miles of streets to reach residents as they sat on their front lawns. There was also a 30-minute video on the website with speeches from village officials and video clips and photos from previous parades that were submitted by the residents. Mayor Karen Schneider said that some residents preferred the 2020 parade because they could set up a picnic and watch it from their house.

In October, Village Council passed an ordinance adopting regulations for riparian setbacks. The setbacks are intended to protect land that is near the Chagrin River and its tributaries by listing permitted, conditional and prohibited uses. Gates Mills is one of the last communities within the Chagrin River watershed to implement riparian setback regulations.

Julie Hullett has been a reporter for the Chagrin Valley Times since August of 2018 and covers Gates Mills, Hunting Valley, Moreland Hills, Orange, Pepper Pike and Woodmere. She graduated from John Carroll University with a journalism degree in 2018.

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