New construction projects, increased revenue, round the clock EMS coverage, and less crime were among the highlights in Northwood Mayor Mark Stoner’s “State of the City” report given to council on Thursday.
“The message for 2012 is one of continuing challenge and guided optimism,” said Stoner. “We will continue to adhere to a prudent spending plan as we move through what we hope is a nearing end to the economic downturn of the last few years.”
The year started with a positive general fund carryover due to cautious spending by the city’s department heads, said Stoner.
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“We have approved a balanced 2012 budget totaling $4,450,000 and we project our 2012 general fund revenue to total $4,600,000. Citizens can be assured that we will continue providing quality services in 2012 and that the city will be frugal in its spending,” said Stoner.
He noted that over $8 million were spent for new construction projects last year, an increase from the $5 million spent in 2010 and $3 million spent in 2009. Last year, the city saw several new businesses, including Bob’s Home Service, Sit Means Sit, Marathon Gas Station, Geddis Paving, and Condos and Trees.
Industrial growth and construction included a $2,490,000 expansion of Norplas Industries, a $200,000 addition to JamLand, a $1 million building alteration for Sysco Foods of Ohio, and a $4 million building addition for NAMSA, according to Stoner.
This year, the city administrator will propose additional economic development measures to rehabilitate land parcels and create opportunities for further economic growth, according to Stoner.
“The city will investigate capital improvement projects that might serve to stimulate private investment and offer economic development return,” said Stoner.
In the finance department, Stoner noted that income tax collections were up 12.3 percent from the prior year, and that total General Fund expenditures decreased by $344,485 or 8.2 percent from 2010.
“We still have some hills to climb to get back to our 2007 revenue levels, but we are making progress toward that goal,” said Stoner.
Traffic accidents and major crime statistics dropped in 2011, said Stoner. Traffic crashes were down 8 percent, the ninth consecutive year, and the fourth consecutive year in which there were no fatalities. The police department’s communication center received 6,154 Calls for Service (CFS) from the general public, along with an additional 2,019 calls that were initiated by officers while out on patrol. “Therefore, out grand total was 8,173 CFS, down from last year,” said Stoner.
The department received a grant from the Northwest Ohio Regional Information System for an automatic license plate reader system. “This mounted cruiser system allows the city’s equipped patrol car to run license plates from approaching cars while patrolling, which maximizes our efforts to identify stolen vehicles,” he said.
The department also acquired a fully equipped marked patrol car, a thermal heat detection camera unit, a computer server for police programs and a Lucas County Regional Radio Communications Consol, which will improve the city’s regional communications compatibility, he said.
The department also acquired Automatic Vehicle Location Software, which will help the city locate and guid its EMS and law enforcement field assets, according to Stoner.
The police also received a Third Grade Seat Belt Grant to pay for public seat belt safety training, and a Bullet Proof Partnership Grant funded 50 percent of the cost for five new ballistic vests, said Stoner.
In the fire department, the city last year hired a new part-time fire chief, Joel Whitmore. The fire department last year responded to 710 calls. It also has officially begun providing 24-7 EMS coverage in the city consisting of two fire fighter personnel with at least EMT (Basic) qualifications on standby status at Fire Station No. 2, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Staffing shifts will be filled by personnel from the part-time volunteer department.
“The department bought a used 2007 ambulance, which will allow the city to upgrade from an aging ambulance while delaying the purchase of a new ambulance for an estimated additional five years,” said Stoner.
The streets department last year completed a resurfacing project involving Olde Curtice and Lewis streets, said Stoner. The work was done by Bowers Asphalt at a cost of $103,705.10.
“The city projects a busy 2012, starting with the first construction efforts on the Wales Road Grade Separation project,” said Stoner. “The city plans on paving and repairing storm water lines on Florence Avenue and Sharon Drive in 2012. Also planned is a substantial detention pond construction project serving the Greenway Estates subdivision.
The mayor’s court received a total of $159,135.10 in fines, forefeitures and cost collections for last year. Total cases for the year were 1,870 with 1,664 being traffic and 206 being criminal. These numbers represent a decrease from the previous year, said Stoner.
The court has started to forfeit defendants’ driving privileges in addition to sending them to collections for unpaid balances, said Stoner.