George W. Davis

GREEN: After just 28 days as mayor of Green, Gerard Neugebauer shared successes of the last year, plans for the future and tangerines during his first State of the City address before over 250 guests Thursday night at Raintree Country Club.

“I titled this year’s address ‘Sharing Success’ because it is as a community that we achieve success and, therefore, as a community that we share this success,” said Neugebauer, only the city’s sixth mayor since Green became a city in 1992.

Neugebauer was elected in November to succeed eight-year Mayor Dick Norton, who couldn’t seek a third four-year term due to term limits.

During his address, the new mayor shared a plan he conceived during his grade-school days to bring more volunteers and creative leaders into the city fold to share their ideas and successes.

The “Project Tangerine” initiative follows what Neugebauer said is his vision to find a way “for the community to collectively and collaboratively build a better community.”

He said the idea is to create a group of community leaders “willing to help promote this idea of volunteering, sharing and broadening our horizons to make us all better — to make Green better.”

“We all have something to give, perhaps something we didn’t even consider important or valuable,” he said.

He urged the audience “not to look to government to provide all the solutions.’’

“Instead,” he said, “it is through the collaborative effort of local government and all our partners that we build a better community.”

He would like the city “to be a conduit to making connections for those willing to give – not necessarily money, but their time, experience and expertise to build our community together.”

With tangerines on the tables, he urged each person to take one home to eat, share or “think about how you can get involved with our community. If the idea moves you, call me so we can get started on this vision.”

Summarizing the city’s financial performance, Neugebauer said Green maintains a “strong cash position,” even though 2015 revenue remained flat compared to 2014. He noted increases in almost all sources of income, but added that the financial report shows a decline in total revenues as a result of several state and federal grants reported in 2014.

The city’s overall income tax trend line shows tax revenues over the past decade increased by 35 percent with revenues at $32.9 million in 2015. Expenditures last year totaled $23.8 million.

This year, total expenditures are estimated at $31.1 million, including $26.4 million budgeted for operating expenses, such as road maintenance and resurfacing.

Neugebauer vowed to be fiscally conservative like former mayors Norton and Dan Croghan, while “planning to ask the tough questions to ensure that we are spending money wisely and within our means.”

He recapped spending on infrastructure in 2015, and said interim improvements are planned this year to bring traffic congestion relief to Massillon Road.

However, the widening of Graybill Road at the Massillon Road intersection planned for last year will be delayed again, partly because the Heritage Crossing development has not demonstrated the traffic delays anticipated on Graybill Road.

That delay will free dollars to spend on resurfacing secondary and neighborhood roads, he said.

Neugebauer said he will reinstate a committee to address storm water concerns and complete a long-range storm water plan.

George W. Davis can be reached at: mediaman@sssnet.com