GATES MILLS — Council approved a contract for up to $190,000 with NES Corp. to repair county roads that run through the village including Wilson Mills, Brigham, Old Mill and Chagrin River.
These repairs are part of an annual Cuyahoga County program set to cover the cost of the materials, up to $92,000, if the village pays for the labor, Councilman Jay “Chip” AuWerter explained last week. The village would receive the reimbursement from the county next year.
This year, Gates Mills received a reimbursement from the county of $62,932 for road work completed under the same program in 2019. The village already spent about $30,000 this spring for an emergency repair to Old Mill Road, Mr. AuWerter said.
He said that the bids came in very “attractive” this year, and there could potentially be more road work underway, depending on what council members decide at their Aug. 11 meeting.
“The next question becomes whether we want to tackle some additional road work, being mindful that we know we’re already facing a deficit as a village and that’s before knowing what the full impact of COVID-19 might be,” Mr. AuWerter said at the July 14 council meeting, referring to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
He offered more recommendations for roads in need of repairs, including Woodstock at a cost of $112,402, Chartley for $57,302 and Dorchester for $81,593. Village Engineer Chris Courtney said that the village does not plan to address Fox Hill Drive, Fox Hill East and Riverview Road this year, which would cost more than $250,000 total.
Treasurer Tim Reynolds asked which project has an immediate impact on public safety. Mr. Courtney said that Fox Hill, Fox Hill East and Riverview are the worst roads in the village right now. Over time, he said, those streets have developed more potholes, making them difficult to plow in the winter. Motorists may soon feel like they are driving a “Dodge ‘Em car,” he added.
Councilwoman Mary Reynolds pointed out that all three of those streets are only used by residents because they do not connect to any other streets.
In 2019, Gates Mills received a grant for $551,699 from the Ohio Department of Transportation to improve the intersection of Mayfield and Chagrin River roads. The project was planned for 2020, but village officials have not yet decided if work will begin this year or next year. In May, Mr. Courtney advised that he did not expect pushback from ODOT if the village wanted to delay the Mayfield Road project until next year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. He noted, however, that if the village turned down the funding and reapplied, it would likely not receive the grant again.
Mr. Courtney said that he plans to sort the road list by county, state and local roads then assign costs depending on what work is needed, such as mill and fill, resurfacing or reconstruction. Mr. Reynolds, who is leading the village’s Long Range Financial Planning Commission, asked for that information as soon as possible so his commission can make accurate cost projections for the village.
“That’s going to be critical information because as you know, right now we’re forecasting on average about a $450,000 deficit each year,” Mr. Reynolds said. “The long-range planning committee and ultimately council will have to come to terms with that in some way.”
Councilwoman Nancy Sogg said that it is important to keep up with road maintenance over time, so they do not fall into disrepair and need to be completely redone.
“It’s my position and recommendation that we try to find some other places to cut if we need to,” Ms. Sogg said. “Our roads are terribly important and very difficult in the winter, especially on our hills.”
Council will discuss how it plans to move forward with additional road work at the Aug. 11 meeting.
Renewal operating levy on ballot
Residents of Gates Mills will see a levy renewal on the Nov. 3 ballot. This 3.5-mill, 5-year levy is an operating levy that is used for general fund expenditures, according to Treasurer Tim Reynolds. The levy has been in place since 2005. Finance Administrator Janet Mulh said that the levy brings $705,830 in revenue to the village per year. This levy costs homeowners $97 per $100,000 of property valuation, according to the Cuyahoga County Budget Commission.