FAIRLAWN: The city experienced an improving economy, a growth in retail establishments and an easy-going negotiation process with union representatives last year.
These accomplishments were only a few laid out by Mayor William Roth as he recited his State of the City address at Monday night’s city council meeting.
Roth did not describe a city in crisis during his address. Roth said the financial state of Fairlawn is on a high note, higher than it has been in the past.
“The overall tax revenue for 2012 is 3.3 percent over 2011,” he said.
According to Roth, 2012 was the first year the city caught up to its 2008 revenue before it took a hit from the recession. It also passed an operating budget for 2013, which is 3.4 percent less than the 2012 reconciliation budget.
The mayor brought the city refinancing its debt to the forefront of his address as well. In addition to getting a good deal on its refinance efforts, the resulting savings allowed they city to improve city hall and the police department.
The mayor said the state auditor released a report saying the city's finances are in order. Roth said the city’s success in the financial sector is mostly due to Fairlawn’s high credit rating of AA1.
“Again, it shows we’re very wise with our money,” Roth said.
City officials also had smooth dealings with union representatives last year. City employees received a 2.25 wage increase as a result of the negotiations. Roth also mentioned the upcoming negotiations in 2014, which will not be as smooth with the demands of new health care act passed by President Obama coming full circle.
"There’s a lot going on this year that is going to be out of our control," Roth said.
Roth also gave praise to Fire Chief Russ Hose, who took the helm of the fire department in 2011. Roth said he has done a fine job.
“Russ has been with us 31 years and he rose through the ranks,” Roth said. “It’s worked out quite well for the city.”
In the arena of crime, Fairlawn only falters in one area, theft. Roth said 91 percent of all crimes committed in Ohio were theft related.
“The vast majority of them are what we call shoplifting crimes,” Roth said. “They usually happen at retail centers because that is where you tend to have the most customers.”
The mayor released a few facts and figures that tie into the city’s crime sector.
He said juvenile crimes are down 29 percent and drug related crimes are down 40 percent. He also recognized the city’s detectives who, according to Roth, have a higher than regular passing grade.
He said detectives solved 62 percent of crimes in 2012. They only solved 55 percent in 2011.
“Statistically, in the crime world, that’s a very high rating for solving crimes,” Roth said.
Towards the end of his address, he highlighted the efforts of the Fairlawn Community Foundation and the Community Improvement Corporation for their contributions to the city. The Fairlawn Community Foundation was the driving force behind the city’s Independence Day fireworks and parade and the Community Improvement Corporation was critical to getting A. Schulman to stay in Fairlawn.