CUYAHOGA FALLS — “I’m proud to tell you that the state of the city is incredibly strong.” That was how Mayor Don Walters wrapped up his 35-minute State of the City Address at the Sheraton Suites on Feb. 22.

Hosted each year by the Cuyahoga Falls Chamber of Commerce, the State of the City featured a sit-down luncheon and a business-to-business mixer called Mixpo where 20 businesses had booths touting their products and services. “Today was a great day for our business leaders and their guests,” Chamber CEO Laura Petrella said immediately following event. There were 200 in attendance, she said.


OVERVIEW OF FINANCES
Walters said the general fund’s unencumbered balance at the end of 2016 was $8.46 million and the cash balance was $8.71 million.

“I’m pleased to announce that at the end of 2016, our cash balance has increased by ($1.042 million) since my administration took office at the beginning of 2014,” Walters said. “Similar to a personal savings account, our cash balance, or ‘Rainy Day Fund,’ is the city’s savings and provides a cushion during economic downturns.” The mayor said Moody’s Investors Service last October released a rating report that again confirmed the city’s Aa2 rating. The report highlighted the city’s “healthy financial position supported by strong management and conservative budget assumptions, and positive operating results,” Walters said.

INFRASTRUCTURE
IS A MAIN FOCUS
Infrastructure remains a top priority, he said, adding the paving budget for 2015 and 2016 was increased from $1.5 million to $2 million each year, which increased the number of road miles that were improved from 11.9 in 2014, to more than 22 lane miles in 2016.

Additionally, he said the city’s Engineering Department, led by the city engineer, Tony Demasi, completed the Chart Road Woodward Creek Culvert project that will help alleviate flooding in the area, and installed a new sanitary sewer along Cochran Road to help spur economic development. “We were also successful in establishing a quiet zone at the Broad Boulevard/?CSX railroad crossing…” Walters said.

UTILITY BILLING
PROBLEMS DISCUSSED
Along with the high points of 2016, Walters reviewed a low point: problems brought on by the update of software in the utility billing department. Once the system conversion was complete, there were various technological issues that occurred, he said. To identify the issues, utility billing staff members began to manually review the individual accounts to identify and rectify the problems, which caused delays, according to the mayor.

“I commend Information Services Director John Konich, and Deputy Service Director Teresa Hazlett, for working tirelessly to get our service levels back to where we all expect them to be,” said Walters.

See the Feb. 26 edition of the Cuyahoga Falls News-Press for the complete story.