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Lakemore Village Council welcomes new members

2/6/2014 - South Side Leader
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By Maria Lindsay

Richard Cole
Josh Timko
LAKEMORE — Two new Lakemore Village Council members are focused on eliminating debt and improving finances.

Richard Cole and Josh Timko were sworn into office at the Jan. 6 meeting, taking over for Tammie Coontz and Troy Bradfield, both of whom did not seek re-election to their seats on Council this past November.

Cole, 40, said his primary goal while serving on Council will be to get the village out of fiscal emergency.

Lakemore was declared by the State Auditor’s Office to be in fiscal emergency in August 2010 after its debt hit $1.1 million. This past September, village officials stated they have reduced that debt to $651,000.

Cole, who is single, said he hopes to use his knowledge and experience to eliminate that debt and improve the village’s finances.

Cole graduated as the valedictorian of his Springfield High School class in 1991 and earned a bachelor’s degree in government from Harvard College in 1995, he said. Currently, he is the director of operations of the two-year-old S.U.P.E.R. Learning Center, which is located in the former Lakemore Elementary building. He also is a member of the Board of Advisers for S.U.P.E.R. Learning Center and chief financial officer of the Springfield High School Alumni Band Board.

Previously, Cole worked for 17 years as a real estate specialist for various law firms. He also served as a member of the Lakemore Tax Incentive Review Council in 2012.

“We must keep making progress on the fiscal emergency front, and once we are financially in the clear, we must maintain fiscal responsibility and accountability,” said Cole. “Pennies need to be pinched and cuts need to be made. Financial instability only jeopardizes our existence as an independent functioning village. We, as a village, must be financially sound so that we may address other pressing matters that affect each and every one of us on a day-to-day basis.”

Cole said one way to help Lakemore financially is to find ways to increase the village’s tax base in order to increase its revenue. Getting more businesses in the village would increase revenue in the village, he added.

“TriCounty Plaza is shaping up, but more could be done,” said Cole. “I would like to see an old easement that went from Main Street to the plaza re-opened. We also need to court more tenants for the plaza. I would love to see a grocery store and a library move in. Bringing more jobs into the community will increase revenue for the village.”

The new jobs that came with the move of seventh- and eighth-grade teachers from Spring Hill Junior High School in Springfield to the new Springfield High School/Junior High building in Lakemore will help, he said.

Finding a new tenant or use for the former Edwin Shaw Rehabilitation Institute property also would help the village, said Cole.

Other needs in the village include improvements to infrastructure, particularly roads and sewers, and street lighting, said Cole.

“Improving our infrastructure and services requires funding, and little can be done on that front until we get out of our state of fiscal emergency,” said Cole.

He added that while the village does not have the funds to develop resources such as its lakefront, he would like to see more community programs and events that bring people together.

“There is such charm and so much potential in Lakemore,” he said. “People just have to be made more aware of it.”

Timko, 31, agrees with Cole that getting Lakemore out of fiscal emergency is a priority.

According to Timko, he received an associate’s degree from The University of Akron in criminal justice in 2003. He has been president and owner of Safenet Security since 2004 and previously served on the IQ Certification Board of Directors from 2011 to 2013. That board was founded in 1997 to set standards and provide consumers with a way to identify alarm companies that are committed to excellence, according to Timko.

“I want to help make our community a thriving village again,” said Timko, who is married with two children. “I want to keep Lakemore moving forward in a positive direction. The number one task is to get out of fiscal emergency. Until then, the village is really strapped on providing increased services to the residents of the village. I think there are many avenues between grants and proper planning that the village can do.

“Bringing in businesses like Dollar General and Tractor Supply Co. has brought in additional revenue, as has the elimination of the tax credit for residents who pay it elsewhere,” he added. “I would like to restore the 100 percent income tax credit back to the hard workers of our community as soon as possible.”

Timko said the 108-acre Edwin Shaw property also has potential to increase employment and the tax base in the village if the county-owned building can be sold to a private enterprise and adapted to a new use.

Some of his other plans for the village include revisiting the Lakemore Community Investment Area Renewal Plan.

“The county invested a lot of money into studies, drawings, engineering and outlines with ideas and recommendations on improving all aspects of the Village of Lakemore,” he said. “There were proposals from everything from changing the directions on streets, to rezoning parcels, to upgrading the road and sewer infrastructures. I think by revisiting these plans, it would put us in a better direction on applying for grants and funding for specific projects rather then trying to spend money from our already strapped budget.”

Timko said the village is benefiting from the Moving Ohio Forward Demolition Grant Program funds, which helped tear down dilapidated residential structures and spurred homeowners into making improvements.

He believes the community would benefit from “a library that provides educational and social programs and a proper historical society to help hold onto the area’s rich history and changes.”

“All these things bring more families to the community, lead to higher property values and create more revenue for the village,” he said.

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