Balancing the budget will be a top focus of Reynoldsburg officials this new year.
Mayor Brad McCloud said city officials will need to be judicious and careful during the budgeting process.
“A permanent budget has to be in place by April 1,” he said. “We will be welcoming a couple of new council members to the table.”
In November, voters defeated a levy that would have increased the city’s income tax from 1.5 to 2.5 percent and would have offset expected cuts in state funding. City officials passed an interim budget in December.
Reynoldsburg is looking at a $1.3-million deficit for 2012, he said.
City officials also will look at increasing parks and recreation and planning and zoning fees.
“We will be reviewing those (fees),” McCloud said. “Those have not been updated for quite a while.”
This year also will see the appointment of a charter review commission, McCloud said. The city charter requires a charter review commission be formed every five years. An outside panel of citizens will take a look at the charter and suggest potential changes, he said.
“I am not anticipating any earth shaking movements to come out of that,” he said.
The upcoming year could see some new hires for the city. McCloud says he would like to hire an economic development director and anticipates a development director could be in place by the first quarter.
McCloud and the city’s planning and zoning administrator have been assuming those responsibilities since the former economic development director left in August.
McCloud also expects to fill the chief building official position within the first couple months of 2012. The position has been vacant since Chet Hopper left in January 2011.
City leaders will continue to focus on development as well. Ohio Health will open an urgent healthcare facility early in the year on State Route 256 in the former Cord Camera space.
McCloud said a majority of new development will be retail-related for 2012, including construction of an Old Navy and PetSmart next to the Target on Route 256. The project could start as early as March or when the weather breaks.
“We will continue our efforts in the Brice Livingston corridor,” McCloud said. “We have made some great strides over the last four years. We do have some opportunities for redevelopment on Main Street. Probably those two areas will be our primary focus.”
With snow arriving, weather is on the mind of many residents and city officials. McCloud said the building department has prepared for above normal precipitation once again.
The city can store 3 tons of salt and the salt bins are filled to capacity.
“We will have plenty on hand,” he said. “We replaced the salt beds of two trucks. They are fueled up, backed in and ready to go.”
Even with a projected deficit, McCloud said there will be a street program for 2012, although it won’t be to the extent of previous years. Every street in the city is internally rated and fixed according to need, but consideration is also given to geography.
“When we do the street program we make sure that it is geographically balanced and we are not just fixing streets in one section of the city,” he said.