State of the City Address 2015
The state of the city, in a word, is strong. Many Ohio communities have not fully recovered from the recession, but the City of Bellefontaine continues to balance its revenues with expenses. I believe that it’s due to a combination of solid vision from the Administration and City Council, steady leadership from our Department Heads, and a firm commitment from our employees to provide exceptional service to our community.
Our financial position is stable. Our 2014 general fund budget was $8,697,648, yearend revenues $8,367,610 and expenditures $8,366,460 (3.5% under budget). In a year in which income tax revenue decreased by $122,710 (2%), we were still able to meet our budget by reduced spending. There were 12 departments that decreased their expenses from the previous year, all the while providing the same great service! We utilized over $1,154,000 in grants in 2014. We received several sizable refunds from Ohio Bureau of Workers Compensation, as well. This is a testament that the safety of our city’s employees remains a priority. We were also able to retire three rather large bond funds in the past year totaling $1,655,000; Water Fund (2001), Sewer Fund (1991), and Storm Water (2001). City Auditor, Jack Reser, and his staff were nominated by the Ohio Auditor’s Office for the award of “Auditor of the Year” for their diligent efforts in overseeing our city’s finances.
I want to also share the efforts and accomplishment that our city departments were able to achieve. Our Engineering Department saw the completion of a number of significant projects; most of the work was made possible through the use of grant dollars. The completion of the Simon Kenton Bike Path Extension, the Henry Street and Foundation Drive developments, the paving of West Williams Ave. and W. Sandusky Ave. were projects totaling $1,618,400. We were also able to dedicate $270,800 to the on-going process of resurfacing our city streets in 2014. City Treasurer Mark Fissel, through prudent investment practices, was able to double our annual yield over the course of this past year.
Our Municipal Court, who operates within their own budget, saw another busy year. They heard 11,879 cases (a 25% increase from 2013). The breakdown was 1924 criminal cases, 7268 traffic cases, 882 parking tickets, 1039 civil cases, and 746 small claims cases. Our Fire Department/EMS responded to 2590 emergency runs (518 fire incidents and 2072 emergency medical incidents). There were 3 civilian fire related injuries and no fatalities. We also provided 234 mutual aid responses to neighboring fire departments. The department was able to add one firefighter to the team, as well as 4 auxiliary members. The department was generously given $75,000 and thus are able to replace (3) Life-Pack 15 units for cardiac support on our ambulances.
The Parks Department took ownership of 453 acres of land (formerly Camp Myeerah) and renamed it Myeerah Nature Preserve. This land was purchased at no cost to our community, rather it was paid for by the Clean Ohio Grant and the Tri-Moraine Audubon Society. We also saw the return of the Summer Concert Series, in Brown Park, through generous donations and sponsorships. Our Airport remains a true asset to our community. We recently completed the construction of a multi-purpose hanger which can be used for community events, as well. We are excited to host the 2nd Annual Aerial Acrobatic Competition in June of 2015.
The Police Department also added one full time officer and two auxiliary officers to our division. There was an increased emphasis placed on outreach efforts. Through neighborhood outreach, speaking engagements and k-9 demonstrations, the Police Department continues to educate our community and foster relationships. Our school aged community continue to connect with our expanded DARE program and learn more about drug awareness and prevention. In 2015, we will see our third class of the Citizens Police Academy. Our Police Department was awarded the 2014 Friends of Education Award by the Bellefontaine City Schools. The Logan County Joint Drug Task Force had in excess of 150 indictments for drug related offenses. This remains a priority for the department’s focus.
Our Streets Department endured one of the harshest winters in recent years. Despite the need for overtime and an increased fuel and salt consumption, they finished under budget. Old man winter also had a hand in at least 33 waterline ruptures and repairs from our Water Department
Through the addition of automated meter readings, the Utility Department was able to notify a number of residents that a high consumption was being detected, leading to the repair of broken water lines. Our plans for 2015 also include increased use of technology within our Utility and Tax Department. Our goals are to implement on-line banking for paying bills, to offer more details with your monthly statement and allow customers a limited access to their account through the internet. The Waste Water Treatment Plant continues to add or replace pumps, lift stations, and needed lab equipment while operating under budget. With the installation of a new communication system (SCADA), which provides more accurate information between the Water and Sewer Departments, the city has experienced a significant operational savings. In 2014, we added the position of Code Enforcement Officer. In addition to becoming the administrator over several of the city’s grants, he is also responsible to site violators of our city’s codes. Between April and December 2014, he reported 784 various violations and resolved over 87.5% of them in that same period.
We continue to work closely with business and industry, in our area, to promote a healthy economic environment. Our Chamber of Commerce proclaims a very optimistic outlook for our community. Area manufacturers continue to add workforce and seek additional warehouse and production space. Local businesses and retail stores have shown an increased sales over the past few years as they continue to put money back into their operations. We continue to see collaborative relationships between our local leaders in education and industry striving to meet the needs of tomorrow’s skilled workforce within our own business community.
I believe we are poised to have another promising year in the City of Bellefontaine! While our population remains virtually unchanged over the past decade, I feel that we can continue to focus our energies on the economic growth of our community. I have challenged our city council to invest the time and resources necessary to update our city’s overall Master Plan for Economic Development. We are fortunate to have such a great team of city employees. We are constantly reminded that every day we touch the lives of those within our community by providing excellent services. I also want to thank former Mayor, Adam Brannon, for his leadership and direction over the past 6 and a half years. I am grateful for the opportunity to continue to represent the City of Bellefontaine. Together, we can strive to keep this community great!