The key to good government is balance – balancing revenue with maintaining services.
In my State of the City report to Seniors in February and to the Chamber of Commerce in March, I reported that in 2007, the city’s General Fund and Municipal Income Tax Fund had a balance of $1.1 million. By 2015, that had grown to $2.75 million.
In 2007, the General Fund and Municipal Income Tax Fund revenue totaled $15.8 million. Last year, it also was $15.8 million, despite revenue from property taxes continuing to decline. Income taxes, especially those from the Cleveland Browns, the City’s largest taxpayer, kept revenue numbers healthy.
At the same time, the City has experienced no layoffs of personnel, there have no increases in water rates and city services have not decreased. In fact, services have been enhanced. We hired four new police officers in 2015 and plan to hire three more this year. The Community Engagement Unit is building valuable bridges with various segments of the community, including youth and seniors. We hired one new firefighter and purchased a new rescue squad. Offerings at the Recreation Center have expanded. We had an ambitious capital improvement projects list in 2015 and have spent $26 million on major projects in the past eight years.
Always keep in mind that we are still going through some tough times. The economy hasn’t completely recovered. We don’t have a lot of dollars. Construction costs have gone up. We try to balance all of these different things. We take on some big projects and try to provide services people expect and still keep an eye on our General Fund balance and maintain our bond rating, which at Aa2 is very healthy. I’m very proud of what we’ve been able to do.
At the end of the day, we’ve had another good year.
Click on the link for a complete transcript of my State of the City remarks to the Berea Chamber of Commerce on March 11.