Reynoldsburgs new mayor finding his footing

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 Messenger photo by Lori Smith

Reynoldsburg Mayor Brad McCloud, a former City Council president who took the head office in January, delivers his first "State of the City" address to the Chamber of Commerce March 6. His early efforts have included beefing up code enforcement and restoring the Fourth of July celebration.

Brad McCloud’s first day as Reynoldsburg’s mayor involved falling down flat on his face not just once – but twice.

The first-time mayor, who was also a long-time councilman, has fortunately avoided political missteps so far, and is working to shore up building code enforcement and bring back the Fourth of July parade and fireworks.

McCloud was the featured speaker at the March 6 luncheon meeting of the Reynoldsburg Area Chamber of Commerce.

"My first day in office was a little more eventful than I would like," McCloud told the crowd of about 100 who gathered at Wesley Ridge to hear his "State of the City" address.

McCloud said on his first day as mayor, he got half-way up the steps of city hall when he realized it was a momentous occasion and stopped for reflection.

"I thought about all the hundreds of times I went up these steps, and I just paused for a moment," he said. "Then with all the grace and style of a bag of flour I fell on my face."

After dusting himself off and heading inside, it wasn’t long until McCloud hit the floor a second time – this time right in the mayor’s office.

"I’m sitting in this chair, which is way too big for me," McCloud recalled. He leaned forward, and before he knew it he toppled out of the chair and was on the floor once again.

Over the last two months, while McCloud has managed to refrain from falling down at city hall, he has accomplished a few things and compiled a significant "to-do" list.

Budget

McCloud began his talk by explaining how Reynoldsburg City Council has passed an interim budget to get him started.

"They did not have to do that and I very much appreciate it," he said, noting this allowed him to use actual expenditures for 2007 to create a more accurate 2008 budget.

Council is expected to approve the final budget shortly, McCloud explained. In total, about $12.6 million should be allocated for general fund expenses, which is similar to last year’s budget.

"I did not make any radical changes," he said. "It was probably more accurately a reallocation."

The 2008 budget is expected to be approved by council later this month, McCloud added.

"The budget is before City Council and we continue to tweak it," he said. "My point is to instill a culture that we are going to continue to look at everything we do and find ways to do it differently and more cheaply."

One significant change he made to the 2007 budget is restoring $25,000  funding for the Fourth of July fireworks. However, council must agree with that change, McCloud noted.

In addition, a corporate sponsor has been talking about financing the fireworks for the city, so that may soon be a moot point, McCloud said.

In other Fourth of July news, the Reynoldsburg Community Association is working to raise funds to bring back the parade, while funding for the police overtime for the parade is included in the 2008 police budget.

"It appears that a parade is also imminent," McCloud commented.

Staff changes

McCloud’s first action was to hire a human resources director, and a new development director is on the way. "It is my intention to fill this position as quickly as possible."

In addition, a new service director will be starting soon, and there is a vacancy in the post for parks and recreation director.

So far, McCloud said he is pleased with the quality of hires and applicants he has seen. Changes at the state level have led some highly qualified people to Reynoldsburg, he added.

Code enforcement

McCloud describes code enforcement in the commercial area of Brice Road and Livingston Avenue as his "pet project." He said efforts to improve the area have already begun.

"We are getting results," he said. "We’re not going to be shy about writing tickets to those not in compliance."

On the first warm weekend of the year, he noted, "We’re going to visit some of those folks and share our values with them."

McCloud is also working on a rental property registration program.

"This is what a lot of communities are doing," he said. "They not only have to register with the community but also submit to an annual inspection."

He showed slides of an apartment complex in the Brice Road area, with damaged steps, missing balusters on balconies, and even raw sewage backing up into bathtubs.

"These are conditions that didn’t get there overnight," he said. "This is not something we are going to put up with anymore."

More projects

Other tasks the mayor is working on include:

•Implementing a credit card policy in the Clerk of Court’s office, which will allow people to use a credit card to pay their fines and thus allowing the city to avoid $70 per day jail fees.

•Requiring staff members to participate in mandatory ethics training.

•Creating a farmers’ market. "There’s a little more to that than may meet the eye," McCloud admitted. "This may be a 2009 project."

•Hosting an outdoor movie night during the summer months behind the senior center in Huber Park.

•Updating the city’s Web site.

"Your mayor is working hard and I’m taking my responsibility seriously," McCloud concluded.

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