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TALLMADGE -- Mayor Dave Kline, a lifelong resident of Tallmadge, says people are clamoring to move into his hometown.
Kline delivered his annual State of the City address to members of the Tallmadge Chamber of Commerce members and others gathered for a luncheon Jan. 18 at The Venue.
"It is truly a blessing and a privilege to be able to stand here before you to talk about how great our city's really doing," he said. Kline described the achievement as being as "group effort," thanking his cabinet members, department heads, City Council and employees for their hard work and commitment to citizens.
Noting it was the sixth State of the City address he has delivered, Kline told the 125 people assembled, "2016 was, by far, the busiest time in my administration and the city [has seen during my tenure]." Kline became the 17th mayor of Tallmadge in 2010.
According to the mayor, the city will operate on slightly more than $32 million during 2017. He said Tallmadge began 2016 with a $5.39 million beginning balance in its general fund. Revenues were $15.67 million, Kline said, and expenditures were $14.30 million, for an unencumbered balance of $6.76 million.
"Expenditures are less than what we're bringing in," Kline said, adding, "[We're] good stewards and yet we do all kinds of different projects We're spending wisely." The city's minimum general fund balance requirement is $2.7 million, Kline noted, emphasizing the city coffers are well ahead of that.
IMPROVEMENT & DEVELOPMENT
The mayor discussed 15 projects which had taken place in the city during 2016. He thanked residents for their "patience" during the 210 days that a stretch of North Avenue was closed for a $4.5 million reconstruction project. The North Avenue improvements, about .75 miles from Tallmadge Circle to just north of Heritage Drive, include the installation of a new storm sewer system, as well as new sidewalks, curbs, lighting, signage and roadway surface. The project got under way in mid-May 2016 and finishing touches like landscaping and lighting will proceed this spring.
Residential developments are in demand in Tallmadge, according to the mayor. K. Hovnanian Homes is developing a 65-lot subdivision named Woodridge Place behind Dunbar Primary School and more single-family homes are going up in Eastwood Glen No. 2, located on the north end of Meadow Glen Lane and Northwood Lane.
"They can't build these fast enough," said Kline, adding, "Everyone wants to move to Tallmadge. Everyone wants to go into the Tallmadge School District."
Danbury Senior Living opened its doors in Tallmadge in late 2016, east of Tallmadge Circle. The mayor reported about 25 people have already moved in to the senior living community. Meanwhile, the mayor noted Testa Companies broke ground on the first phase of The Village at Town Center, a mixed-use development on slightly more than 8 acres beside City Hall. Phase one, Kline said, involves constructing roadway infrastructure and a four-story building parallel to the woods at 76 North Ave. Commercial development is eyed for the first floor, with age-restricted senior apartments for rent on the second and third floors, and market-rate condos on the fourth floor. Their goal is to have this building open to public by the end of June, he said.
The mayor said his 2017 goals and challenges include exploring the possibility of creating a combined dispatch center with Stow, Cuyahoga Falls and Summit County. Currently, Tallmadge contracts with the Stow Police Department for dispatch services and the city of Cuyahoga Falls operates its own dispatch center. "A lot of work will be coming out soon on that," Kline promised.
Kline also reported he believes a sewer rate increase will be necessary in 2017, the size of which will be determined in the first quarter of this year. Akron has been raising the prices it charges municipalities so that it can pay for repairs to combined sewers mandated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
During 2017, Kline said he hopes to make a decision on how best to address the fire department's facilities needs. The issue is whether remodeling the two present fire stations would be sufficient, Kline said, or whether building a new fire station would be a better option.
Twitter: @ EllinWalsh_RPC