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Government and Politics


Cuyahoga County executive wants more cohesion between municipalities and the county
FitzGerald details 12-point plan in State of the County address
by WKSU's KEVIN NIEDERMIER


Reporter
Kevin Niedermier
 
Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald making his 2nd State of the County Address at the Renaissance Hotel Ballroom.
Courtesy of Kevin Niedermier
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In The Region:

County services for municipalities, jobs for veterans, and making downtown Cleveland the showplace of Cuyahoga County. Those are some of the items in a 12-point plan laid out by County Executive Ed FitzGerald today in his second state of the county address. As WKSU’s Kevin Niedermier reports, his “Western Reserve Plan” is aimed at making Cuyahoga County more prosperous and cohesive.

Niedermier on the State of Cuyahoga County address

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County Executive FitzGerald told the crowd of 850 people in the Renaissance Hotel ballroom that the new charter government’s first year was dedicated to creating efficiencies and making it transparent. And a lot of time was spent building public trust lost through the county corruption scandal.

He says the groundwork is in place to push the county forward, but creating positive outcomes with take years. Some of the goals in his Western Reserve Plan include reducing foreclosures, increasing early childhood education and branding the county as a place that will draw companies and new residents from around the world.

Almost all of Cuyahoga’s 59 municipalities now use the county’s health department for restaurant inspections and other services. And FitzGerald wants to expand that to include voluntary contract services like information technology support, emergency dispatching and help with certain crime investigations.

FitzGerald:  “Each year the county can expand its menu of services, until someday, hopefully someday soon, we can have a comprehensive set of municipal services that can be provided directly by the county. This concept is simple and it’s proven. And it’s already worked in this county for things like many of our social services, or the services provided by the county board of health.”

University Heights Mayor Susan Infeld likes the idea.

Infeld:  “If there’s a way for us to provide the same services for a reduced cost, or to provide a better service at the same cost, I think communities would be in favor of that and certainly my residents in University Heights would look favorably toward any efforts to that end.” 

Niedermier:  “What kinds of things in University Heights could you use?” 
Infeld:  “Every municipality provides police service, fire service, has an employee base they have to provide health care benefits to. And these are all the types of things the county executive has talked about. He’s also talked about back room efficiencies and administrative functions like computer operations. That type of efficiency would be very helpful to a small municipality. Servers are expensive, and i.t. services cost a lot of money.”

Another part of the Western Reserve Plan gives the county’s military veterans preference for county job training and job openings. The unemployment rate for Ohio veterans is 15%.. Ken Connelly of Cleveland is a Navy veteran and run a consulting firm. But he says for many veterans, the skills they learned in the military don’t easily apply to civilian jobs. 

Connelly: “People in the reserve units, generally speaking, they come back and they’ve got there job and can pick up where they left off. Now those who come out of high school or college and go directly into the service, and even our academy graduates, young officers that go away, they’ll come back and find that their skills don’t exactly match up. So I think it’s extremely important that we have opportunities for these people. There’s no reason that we shouldn’t have focused types of training for them.”

Cuyahoga County has about nine-thousand veterans, and that’s increasing as the U.S. military presence in Iraq and Afghanistan winds down.                                                                            

County Executive FitzGerald says it will take time for his 12-point plan to start showing results, and he asked everyone in the audience to do what they can to help.                                        

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