Text Box: A message from Ward 1 Council Candidate Tom Jaros

Hello Ward 1 Residents,
Having first come to Seven Hills from Cleveland (Slavic Village area) some 55 years ago, I have had the opportunity to observe firsthand the growth of a truly beautiful community populated by hard-working and intelligent people. My mother, at 89 years old, has lived here all of those 55 years. I took long bus rides from the stop at Hillside and Broadview to attend Benedictine High School. When I transferred to Parma Sr. High, I took catechism lessons at the then relatively “new” St. Columbkille. At the age of 18, with a year of pre-engineering study at Fenn College (Cleveland State now) under my belt, I fell in love with the mother of my 2 children and went to work at Republic Steel to support my wife and myself. A few years later, our first child was born.
I was fortunate to join the workplace when a willingness to work hard and diligently was enough to allow upward movement toward management. This allowed me to eventually gain Vice President of Operations positions with profit and loss responsibility for corporations with budgets far in excess of that of the City of Seven Hills. Experience with smokestack and recycling industries provided a broad spectrum of education applicable to facilities, maintenance, equipment and people. Having profit and loss responsibility in the private sector necessarily points one toward good business practices or, in the private sector, toward the unemployment line.
After living in various adjoining suburbs, I returned to Seven Hills in 2008. Soon after returning, my duties as a Board of Directors member for the Stone Ridge Homeowners Assn. (W9th and Rockside) forced interaction with the City of Seven Hills in the protection of homeowners. Pleas for help fell on deaf ears at City Hall. That interaction necessitated a close look into some aspects of the day-to-day operation and working policies of the City. It became very obvious that less than good management practices had been observed during the development of the Stone Ridge Subdivision.  The Ohio EPA has commented that “poor planning” caused the problem. Subdivision development is to be monitored and controlled by City Hall. The 55 homeowners at the development are being monetarily punished – to the tune of $250,000.00 - as a result of City Hall’s actions or lack of actions. City Hall continues to ignore the plight of those homeowners.
Facts provided in the Seven Hills Reporter pointed me toward attending Council Meetings. After attending a goodly number of Council and Charter Review Committee meetings, it has become obvious that City Hall needs help. Council decisions are at the root of the current “desperate” (the description given by City Hall’s attorney negotiating the Cell Tower lease deal) financial condition of Seven Hills. Despite the latest rosy depiction of finances for 2013, projected repayment of already accrued (approved by most of the currently seated Council members) debt and operational expenses will far exceed projected City income moving forward. The General Fund (City cash on hand) will be rapidly depleted. Approximately $2.2 MILLION in Recreation Center losses was allowed by most of the currently seated Council Members. Current Rec Center projections show that it may break even this year. Although this is already being lauded as a major accomplishment by the current administration, one has to realize that this “break even” is proof that the Rec Center had the potential to not consume $2,200,000.00 in taxpayer dollars right along. It’s the same building. Even though a bad roof is being blamed for losses, mismanagement and poor business practices are the only factors that could have caused the losses to continue for many years. The latest Administration answer to financial woes is to borrow more money. Income projections moving forward don’t seem to show an increase capable of offsetting already existing debt. How is borrowing more money an answer?

Although most residents would likely understand having to pay additional costs associated with living in Seven Hills, I don’t believe anyone should have to pay out additional hard-earned dollars or retirement benefits if a single dollar is being consumed by wasteful expenditures. 
A State of Ohio Performance Audit caused the elimination of some wasteful spending of taxpayer dollars. There is still room for improvement. Not all Audit recommendations have been followed. That State Audit, costing taxpayers $150,000.00, would correspond to hiring an “efficiency expert” in the private sector. Hiring an efficiency expert is usually a last resort effort in the private sector reserved for circumstances where operations management needs assistance from outside of the company. Council is the operations management for the City of Seven Hills. Most of currently seated Council members had a duty, and an opportunity to review expenditures and practices that led to the current state of the City’s economy. For whatever reason, they were unable to come up with, or follow through on, the changes indicated by the State Audit. They no doubt did the best they could. Their best just wasn’t enough.
Ward 1 is at particular risk due to Zoning issues. Those currently at City Hall sponsored (NOTE: ask Mike Barth how he voted on this) a Charter Amendment that gave City Council extraordinary power in the development of the Rockside Terrace/Sora Hill property. Then-Mayor Bentkowski claimed that amendment was necessary to protect Ward 1 residents from undesirable development. Apparently, voter trust in City Hall allowed the amendment to be approved at the polls. That same amendment gives Seven Hills Council members the power to approve - WITHOUT VOTER INPUT – ANY development they deem appropriate. This is the ONLY piece of property in Seven Hills with that voter muting stipulation. Governmental uses are allowed on that property. A maximum security prison could be built there. Hannibal Lecter could be a resident in Ward 1! I personally asked the current Mayor Dell’Aquila-appointed Charter Review Committee (Council-at-large candidate Mike Barth and Ward 1 Council Candidate Jeff  Bryda are members of that Committee) to consider restoring voter control of Zoning for that parcel. Charter Review Committee minutes show no mention of my request or that it was ever considered. The long blighted condition of Ward 1 in that area is testimony to the development success achievable without voter input.

In 2012, current Ward 1 Councilman Mike Barth began bragging about his part in bringing an anticipated nursing home to Pinnacle Park and Rockside Rd. Mayor Dell’Aquila was quick to jump on that same bandwagon. At His Honor’s state of the city presentation this year, a beautiful 2 story representation of things to come was unveiled. However, the property is zoned for 1 story buildings only! Zoning changes for that parcel must go to voters. Was this an example of inept oversight by Barth and Dell’Aquila? Or – were the hapless residents of Ward 1 about to have the heavy hand of City Hall brush their right to the protection of zoning laws aside? $750,000.00 of taxpayer money for street “improvement” in that area is being considered to accommodate the development. Old Rockside improvement? Old Rockside use for that area is NOT permitted under current zoning.

If elected to the office of Ward 1 Councilman, I believe my work experience will allow me to make positive contributions to the management of the City of Seven Hills.
Zero waste of taxpayer dollars is achievable with the proper study and oversight that has been missing at City Hall for years.         
I would consider it a privilege to put my experience to work in the City that has been home to my Mother and my heart for 55 years.
Thank you for your time!

More insight into the operation of the City at OPEN44131.COM

Paid for by the ELECT TOM JAROS for WARD 1 COUNCIL Committee  224 Crescent Ridge Dr. Seven Hills, 44131 Ginny Roberts Treasurer