(Posted Feb. 12, 2022)
By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor
Growth was the theme of London Mayor Patrick Closser’s State of the City address, delivered at the Feb. 17 city council meeting.
He noted that the building and zoning department issued 41 permits for dwellings last year, twice the number issued in 2020.
“The amount of dwelling permits is great, but I see it really rising over the next two years,” Closser said. “I have had multiple meetings over the past few months with builders, development companies, and realtors on possible residential builds. This is a very exciting time for the residential market in London.”
Other areas that saw increases from 2020 to 2021 include police incident reports, up 15 percent. Traffic stops and traffic offense charges also were up. The parks and recreation department saw a record number of children participate in the youth basketball program–262. A total of 18 games were played each week during the season.
“The youth programs will continue to grow, and we need to grow with them,” Closser said.
This growth is one of the reasons the city is seeking a 0.5 percent income tax increase for a new community center, a new police department, and increased funding for the fire and EMS department, he continued. The levy will appear on the May 3 primary election ballot. If passed, the cost to the average London resident would be $152 per year.
“As a growing community, we strive to offer the amenities and safety that everyone needs and wants,” Closser said. “By having a new state-of-the-art police station and a new, larger community center, we will be able to meet the needs of all citizens, from children trying sports for the first time to adults who want a safe place to walk.”
In a review of the city’s departments, Closser listed programs and improvements that were put in place last year. Among those that are planned for this year are:
• completion of the switch of all water meters to cellular units which increase accuracy and efficiency of meter readings;
• the start of a city newsletter which will be sent out periodically with utility bills;
• continued study and work toward a wastewater line expansion on the city’s east side;
• continued problem-solving for the east water treatment plant which was built on an aquifer that contains ammonia.
“We have located an area where we believe may be clean water with no ammonia. We have a landowner who is working with us to help us remedy our issue,” Closser said.
• four storm sewer projects and contracting with an engineering firm to study part of the storm sewers;
• paving and storm sewer replacement on state routes 56 and 38 in conjunction with the Ohio Department of Transportation;
• upgrades to traffic lights, traffic timing cameras and crosswalks;
• a 5 percent increase in traffic enforcement activities by the police department;
• completion of renovations to the two fire and EMS stations; and
• construction of a new playground at Merri-Mac park and continued partnership with the non-profit fundraising group, Merri-Mac Park Miracle.
About the city’s overall financial status, Closser said the city’s revenues in 2021 were $20.9 million, and expenses were $19.9 million. The general fund received $5.25 million and spent $5.16 million.
“I’m proud to say that in the six years I have been mayor, the city has never spent more money than it received. We have continued to stay in the black,” he said.