Five takeaways from Silver Lake State of the Village address

Phil Keren
Kent Weeklies
Silver Lake Mayor Bernie Hovey delivered his annual State of the Village address in a virtual format on Monday, March 2. The speech is posted on the village's website at https://villageofsilverlake.com/government/mayor/state-of-the-village/

SILVER LAKE — Mayor Bernie Hovey delivered his State of the Village address in a virtual format that was posted on the village's website Monday night.

Here are five key takeaways from the mayor's annual speech:

1. Life 'went on' during pandemic, village received assistance: Hovey noted that "life went on" as the village navigated the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic during this past year.  

"Despite having to declare States of Emergency on two different occasions, despite having to deny you unfettered entrance into Village Hall, despite having to close all our recreational facilities, and despite forcing most committee meetings to operate virtually, life went on," said Hovey.

The Silver Lake Garden Club in 2020 canceled its annual summer festival for the first time ever.

The mayor praised village employees for their hard work in a year that proved very challenging.

"While the pandemic raged throughout most of the year, [the employees] unfailingly reported to work every single day," stated Hovey. "We did have a few cases where some employees had to quarantine themselves for a period of days, or even weeks, but the work of the village continued without interruption."

The village received fiscal assistance from the state and federal government for COVID-19 issues.

Money from the C.A.R.E.S. Act and HB 481 allowed the village to buy equipment and make technological upgrades that allowed employees to work from home when needed. The funds were used, Hovey said, "to pay our employees when they performed services directly related to fighting the pandemic, and for equipment and supplies which we could use to sanitize village property, thereby reducing, even eliminating, any possible contamination and spread of the virus."

Some of the items that were purchased included a new security door for village hall, a room fogging sanitizer, ultra-violet sanitizing lights, and plexiglass desk panels. The COVID-19-related funds were also used to provide partial payments to police officers. 

Since these expenses were not paid for with budgeted village money, Hovey said Silver Lake is in a healthy financial situation.

"As 2020 ended, we saw an increase to our general fund balance of more than $600,000, and an increase in our overall balance for all funds of more than $800,000," said Hovey.

2. $3 million project eyed: Hovey said he is hoping to see a $3 million project to improve Englewood Drive begin either later this year or in early 2022.

The project would include putting in curbs and sidewalks, as well as widening the street, according to Hovey. The village is weighing different financing options for the endeavor.

Since the west side of the road is in Silver Lake and the east side is in Stow, Hovey said the village is "seeking [Stow's] involvement in the project."

3. Electric aggregation deal set up, utility billing outsourced: Hovey said the village recently entered a new electric aggregation deal that carries a rate of $.0489 per kilowatt hour.

"Residents are free to opt out, without any charge, if they find a better rate elsewhere," stated Hovey.

The village recently outsourced its utility billing services.

"This new method saves us thousands of dollars per year, as well as staff time and efficiency," said Hovey.

On another billing issue, it appeared the village had resolved a sewer charge issue with the county that Hovey said will save Silver Lake almost $200,000.

4. Longtime leaders exited in 2020; replacements stepped in: Two longtime village leaders stepped down from their posts in 2020.

Jerry Jones resigned from council after serving for 15 years, 11 as council's president.

"We thank Jerry for his dedication to the village, for his knowledge, expertise and leadership, and wish him the best in the future," said Hovey.

Jones was replaced by Chris Scott, and council at the start of 2021 elected Bill Church to serve as its president.

"Bill will do an outstanding job in that role," stated the mayor.

In 2020, Jeff Heintz left the planning commission after serving for 30 years, 13 as the body's chairman. 

"His knowledge and expertise, along with his sense of humor and organizational skill, will be greatly missed," said Hovey.

Appointed to replace Heintz was Courtney Zimmerman, who the mayor said "has a wealth of knowledge and the needed credentials."

Other new appointees are: Bob Barsan, Park Board; Bob Henry, Shade Tree Commission; and Dr. Mary Ann Schneider, Citizens Housing Committee.

The mayor added that Nick Flasco is a new full-time police officer and Michael Hudson is a new part-time police officer.

5. Calls on residents to 'persevere' during pandemic: Hovey urged residents to "persevere" and do their part to help bring the COVID-19 pandemic to an end. The mayor said he's received his COVID-19 vaccination and encouraged residents to do so, as well as continuing to wear masks and following other guidance from health professionals.

"We pray for the day when we will be able to return to our favorite restaurants, to go on picnics, entertain family and friends, go to movies without fear of getting sick, and to seeing our kids in school five days a week," said Hovey. "Until then, stay safe, be well."

The mayor's speech can be viewed on the village's website at https://villageofsilverlake.com/2021-state-of-the-village/.

Hovey has served as mayor of Silver Lake since the spring of 2006.

Reporter Phil Keren can be reached at pkeren@thebeaconjournal.com, or on Twitter at @keren_phil.