State of the city is strong, Tallmadge mayor says during address at Chamber luncheon

by Holly Schoenstein | reporter Published:

Tallmadge -- The state of the city is strong, city officials are pleased with what they accomplished in 2012, and they are looking forward to another busy year.

That's the message Mayor Dave Kline relayed in his State of the City address during a Tallmadge Chamber of Commerce luncheon at the Community Center Jan. 16.

About 110 people listened to his approximately 30-minute speech, during which he talked about the city's financial health, capital projects, economic development and some of the city's goals for this year.

Dollars and cents

Kline said the city is doing well, despite getting less money from the state through various funds and taxes, and continues to have a "conservative budget" at $25 million overall for 2013.

He pointed out the general fund balance is projected to be $4.3 million at the end of 2013, which city officials have said usually is around $1.8 to $2 million.

"We are in a good financial position for the city of Tallmadge moving forward," he said.

Kline said the city has "a smaller government, but more efficient."

"We're down 18 percent of employees [from a few years ago], but yet we're still providing the same service to the residents," he said.

Economic development projects

Development around the Circle is busy, with Bumpas Commons thriving. It's now home to the Firehouse Grill and Pub and Venue Banquets and soon will house Cortabella's Italian restaurant and Igloo's Frozen Yogurt.

The property on which Big Boy once operated has been sold to Firehouse owner Tony Jaber, who plans to turn it into a retro, 24-hour diner.

Development in the city also includes a new medical office complex to be built on vacant land across from Delanie's Neighborhood Grille on West Avenue.

The Newell Rubbermaid distribution center in Brimfield, which is in the Tallmadge Joint Economic Development District, opened last month. Tallmadge will receive 50 percent of the income tax from the facility's more than 100 to 125 employees, and Brimfield will receive the other 50 percent.

City Council is considering two development projects for seniors that hinge on the developers' ability to land federal senior tax credits. One is a proposed city center complex next to City Hall on North Avenue, and the other is an apartment building on Colony Park Drive.

Capital projects

For the first time last year, the city spent about $1.5 million on roads. The 2013 budget includes $1 million for road work.

In addition, the Ohio Department of Transportation has awarded the city a $521,600 grant to resurface roads, including Northwest Avenue.

"Those would have never been paved without help through the state of Ohio and ODOT," Kline said.

ODOT is paying 80 percent of the projects' costs, and the city is responsible for 20 percent.

Personnel

The city negotiated new, three-year labor union contracts for workers in the police, fire, street, water and sewer departments.

Kline said it was "unprecedented" that the contracts were negotiated without attorneys for either side.

"We sat down and hashed out contracts, and it was really beneficial to the city. We saved the taxpayers about $50,000 over the last time we negotiated contracts. With the help of the FOP [Fraternal Order of Police], the Teamsters, the fire department, it was just a great working relationship that we have that great rapport," Kline said.

In response to the Affordable Care Act, the city reduced the number of hours its part-time employees can work to a maximum of 29 hours per week.

The mandate through the Affordable Care Act is effective in 2014, but Kline said cities are permitted to have a "look back period" that can begin at any time so Tallmadge decided already to make that change.

Of the 130 part-timers who work for the city, Kline said only six were affected by the change.

Operations and other accomplishments

Kline also said memberships at the Tallmadge Recreation Center have reached more than 4,800 and are expected to reach 5,000 members this month or next.

"It is just booming out there ...," he said. "When we built the place, we thought we needed 2,000 members to sustain the place."

He said more than 1 million people have gone through the front doors of the Rec Center since it was built.

The number of visits to Maca Pool hit an all-time high last year when 966 people came on June 8.

Kline said the city's accomplishments for 2012 included reducing the area the historic Design Control District covers, as well as tightening the requirements for the properties that fall into the district, updating the thoroughfare plan that outlines how traffic flows through the city, and introducing a new jobs incentive program.

Goals for 2013

The city will continue its efforts to collaborate with nearby communities to save money.

"Nothing is off the table when we talk about collaboration," Kline said.

Kline said among the city's goals this year is updating the city's comprehensive plan and finishing the outdoor police shooting range. Lead contamination from bullets at the site has been cleaned up, and this spring the range will be rebuilt to allow for easier lead cleanup in the future.

For more, see the Jan. 20 edition of the Tallmadge Express.

Email: hschoenstein@recordpub.com

Phone: 330-541-9428

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