TALLMADGE: The city began the year with a $4 million carryover, the largest since 2007’s Great Recession sent community budgets spiraling downward.
Residents will see evidence of a recovery this year as the city embarks on a $1 million grant-assisted road resurfacing program.
“It’s been a long time since we had $1 million to spend on roads,” Mayor David Kline said in a recent interview.
But one thing that won’t change: The city’s number of full-time staffers, which stood at 114 in 2008, will stay at a lean and mean 87.
“We may move some jobs around, but we’ve learned to make do with less,” Kline said.
Officials throughout the region are hopeful that tentative signs of an economic recovery will grow more robust in 2012.
With that in mind, the Akron Beacon Journal asked some of its Summit County mayors to share what’s in store for their communities this year, from infrastructure projects to recreational amenities.
First up: Tallmadge, a city of 17,300 perhaps best known by outsiders for its historic eight-spoked circle.
Kline was the city’s service director in 2010 when City Council appointed him mayor to finish an unexpired term. In November, voters gave him a full four-year term.
Not surprisingly, business retention and growth were key campaign mantras.
Kline has been advocating a plan to rewrite the strict rules of the city’s historic design district, which might have hindered companies from expanding or renovating their properties.
The changes are before City Council, and Kline is confident they will be approved in the next month or two.
Other developments promise residents new dining choices.
The owner of Firehouse Grill & Pub eateries has purchased a prominent Tallmadge Circle building that has been vacant for two years. His plans include moving his grill on West Avenue to the new site, as well as adding an Italian restaurant and a banquet facility.
There is already interest from another restaurant in the West Avenue property that would be left behind, Kline added.
Overall, “we’re cautious of the growth. Is it sustainable? We hope so,” Kline said. “The Economic Development Department is getting a lot of phone calls, and that’s good.”
Streets and utilities
Residents could see their water bills go from quarterly to monthly statements.
The city is seeking funds to convert a system that relies on a meter reader who visits individual homes to a “radio reader” that scans the entire city in a single day.
Meanwhile, grants from the state totaling $650,000 will supplement the city’s $400,000 street budget. Roads targeted for repaving this year are Northwest Avenue from Stadium Drive to the Cuyahoga Falls border, Newton Street from the Akron line to Southeast Avenue, and South Thomas Road.
Parks and recreation
When the city opened Tallmadge Recreation Center in 2003, it hoped for 2,000 members. Current membership is twice that.
“It’s busting at the seams,” Kline said of the $1 million-a-year operation.
Membership could grow even more this year. Tallmadge is a designated Silver Sneakers site, offering fitness programs for older adults that are funded by many insurance policies.
Because SummaCare added Silver Sneakers to some of its plans this year, Kline said, there could be more daytime activity at the busy center.
Elsewhere, traditional events will continue, including the city’s third annual Circle Fest in August. New to the city’s schedule this year will be the Little League state girls championship.
The police department is replacing its K-9. Tallmadge has been without a four-legged officer since the last one retired.
Kline also hopes to restore some human positions to the department, which is two officers short.
One idea is to put a clerk in charge of the property room, freeing the property officer to join patrols.
The fire department is also down one person, so the city is applying for a federal SAFER Hiring Grant, which could pay to return that position.
Paula Schleis can be reached at 330-996-3741 or email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter at http://twitter.com/paulaschleis.