Twinsburg delays capital improvements to cut budget

KEN LAHMERS
Correspondent

TWINSBURG – In response to lower expected revenue as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, City Council has approved legislation that will reduce 2020 general fund appropriations – mostly in the capital improvements area – by about $1.11 million.

Major capital projects to be postponed this year are Darrow Road stormwater improvements (savings of $550,000), new recreation center roof ($200,000), golf course maintenance ($98,000), Americans with Disabilities Act upgrades and bridge at Perici Amphitheater ($95,000), road striping ($85,000) and tree planting ($50,000).

Legislation was introduced June 9 to reduce 2020 general fund personnel appropriations by $702,000, which mostly reflects coronavirus-related staff reductions.

Also introduced was legislation increasing the city’s charter real estate tax rate by 4.9 mills over the next two years, with 2.4 mills to be collected starting in 2021 and an additional 2.5 mills to be collected starting in 2022. 

Of the total millage increase, 1.4 mills would go for police and fire pensions, 1 mill for police and fire capital improvements and 2.5 mills for operation of the police, fire and service departments. In all, it would generate about $3.2 million per year.

Fire Chief Tim Morgan and Assistant Chief Steve Bosso spoke in support of the millage increase.

“There are a lot of good things offered in Twinsburg, but they come with a price tag,” said Morgan. “All department heads want to improve public services, and that costs money.” Bosso added he believes the 0.25% income tax which was rescinded a few years ago should never have been taken off the books.

Meanwhile, council OK’d a collective bargaining agreement with Local 3630 of the International Association of Firefighters for the period from Jan. 1, 2020 to Dec. 31, 2022. The contract calls for 2.5% pay hikes for each of the three years.

Law Director David Maistros said negotiations have been under way for several months. Earlier this year, three-year contracts for unionized police officers, sergeants and dispatchers were ratified, which also included 2.5% pay hikes.

The 2021 tax budget, a routine annual procedure required by the Ohio Revised Code, was introduced. It must be adopted and sent to the Summit County fiscal office by July 15. The county then sets rates for funds that have property taxes as a source of revenue.

For 2021, the city is applying for taxes to be received in the following funds: fire and police pensions, 1 mill each generating $650,824 each; park debt, 1.68 mill generating $1.09 million; and capital improvements, 1 mill generating $650,824.

Council authorized the mayor to apply for participation in the Summit County Energy Special Improvement District. The city has identified the Twinsburg Community Center as a property which could benefit from funding for installation of high-efficiency, LED lighting.

The program allows communities to increase the district to include the municipal corporate area and property owners within the district, making them eligible to finance improvements through property assessments. The city’s assessment for the community center project will total $550.

Morgan reported the fire department responded to 1,189 calls through May, down 12 from the same period last year. He said windows at Fire Station 1 will be replaced with a Northeast Ohio Public Energy Council grant, and the front overhead doors will be replaced.

A new sprinkler system will be installed at the station with a FEMA grant. Morgan noted because of coronavirus-related delays, the city’s new fire truck will not be delivered until early 2021.

Commenting about a recent local march related to the Black Lives Matter movement and the death of George Floyd, Mayor Ted Yates said it was “beautiful, enlightening and said a lot about the community.”

Yates added there is a lot of room for improvement in the area of race relations and cultural diversity in the community, “but we’re making progress.” A handful of Council reps commented that the peaceful march made them proud to live in Twinsburg.

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