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Mayor calls Fairlawn ‘sound and improving’

1/24/2013 - West Side Leader
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By Sean Patrick

During the Jan. 22 Fairlawn City Council meeting, Mayor William Roth read his annual State of the City address.

“The financial condition of the city is sound and improving,” he stated. “The overall tax revenue for 2012 was 3.3 percent over 2011. Last year was really the first year we caught up to the 2008 revenues — before we had the recession — and now we’re actually pulling a little ahead of that. So we surpassed our prerecession benchmark, which is a good sign.”

Even with the revenue increase, Roth said, Fairlawn remained conservative in terms of the city budget.

“Our operating budget we passed for 2013 in December was actually 3.3 percent less than the 2012 reconciliation budget,” he said. “So we’re very wise with our money in how we spend it.”

According to Roth, a financial “highlight” for Fairlawn was a refinancing of the city’s debt.

“Overall, the city of Fairlawn is approximately $5 million in debt, which for a city this size isn’t really that great, according to the bonding people,” he said. “The debt mainly is some infrastructure from the ’90s and also there was the construction of the new police station, the remodeling of City Hall and the building of the service center. The old interest rates we had were anywhere from 3.75 percent to 4.7 percent on our bonding, and this year we were able to refinance our debt. Overall, we’re saving $661,198 in interest and we’re taking most of that savings up front. We did not increase the length of the loan, and the monthly payments are the same.”

One of the items the mayor said he takes pride in is the city’s “over 95 percent” occupancy for retail space.

“I don’t care how your economy is, you’re always going to have a certain percent that’s going to sit vacant,” he said. “But at 95 percent, you’re basically running just about at full occupancy, which speaks a lot for our area.”

Roth said the city is “still down several individuals in the police department, the fire department, dispatch and service.”

“This year, in our budget we are planning on some hirings — I believe it’s one more police officer, one more in fire and one more in service,” he said. “We won’t be to our prerecession levels … but we’re trying to get our staff up to where we feel comfortable with taking care of the city.”

In 2012, Roth said, dispatch fielded 60,582 calls for assistance.

“This is actually down 8.37 percent from 2011,” he noted. “Traffic enforcement staff issued 2,081 citations of all types.”

The mayor said 91 percent of all crimes were theft-related, with “the vast majority” being shoplifting crimes.

“The good news is juvenile crimes were down 29 percent, and drug-related crimes were down 49 percent,” he said. “And the detective bureau was active as usual. They were assigned 82 cases for investigation in 2012 — that’s up three cases from 2011. In 2012, 62 percent of crimes reported to them were solved. This is up from 55 percent in 2011. Statistically, in the crime world, that’s a very high rate of solving crimes.”

The fire department had 1,596 responses for transport in 2012, up 30 calls from the previous year.

The mayor said due to remodeling and rehabbing of the current fire station, the city will not need to build a new fire department.

“That’s something that we can take out of our five-year plan,” he stated.

Roth wrapped up his speech by noting he has been Fairlawn’s mayor for 18 years.

“I consider it a privilege to serve as mayor, and I look forward to serving this next year and working with everyone here,” he said.

Also during the meeting:

• Council President Russ Sharnsky (at large) said committee appointments for 2013 “will remain as they were in 2012.”

A list of those committees and the appointments can be found on the city’s website at cityoffairlawn.com/Index.aspx?NID=154.

• City Engineer Nick Spagnuolo said the city will open bids for the 2013 street repair program Jan. 29.

Last month, the mayor said Fairlawn will undertake nearly $2 million in road work this year.

• A resolution confirming the appointment of Sharon Brustoski to Fairlawn’s Residential Housing Assistance board for a term ending Dec. 31, 2015, was unanimously approved by Council.

The next Council meeting is set to take place Feb. 4 at 6:30 p.m. at Fairlawn City Hall, 3487 S. Smith Road. The next Committee-of-the-Whole meeting is scheduled for Jan. 28 at 6:30 p.m. in City Hall.

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