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Silver Lake -- The village's leader touted his municipality's financial position, listed multiple accomplishments from 2016 and noted plans have begun for a celebration of Silver Lake's 100th birthday in his annual address March 6 (see sidebar).
Silver Lake Mayor Bernie Hovey delivered his State of the Village address at the Council meeting at Village Hall to an audience of about 40 people.
Noting that 2016 was a "busy year" for the village, Hovey said Silver Lake's financial position is "stable." He said the village's investments are earning higher returns than they had in the recent past, the line item funds are "healthy," and the general fund is "in excess" of $2 million.
"I attribute this financial health to the wise spending decisions by our department heads, to the attention to expenditures vs. revenues given by our Council, and to the expert management of our funds by our clerk-treasurer," said Hovey. "Obviously we need to remain vigilant, and conservative, in all things financial. We cannot expect increased funding from the state of Ohio; we do not have viable untapped sources of increased revenues; and we must continue to find ways to pay for needed equipment, and to proceed with necessary projects."
In 2016, Hovey noted, the village's budgeted expenses were estimated to be approximately $300,000 more than projected revenues, but the mayor said the scenario was "not a big concern" because "all of our budget requests were necessary and proper, and we had the cash on hand. what we did was make available for spending some of the capital we had accrued in previous years. Pretty much like what you do at your home. Save, save, save and then spend."
Hovey said, the shortfall was "erased" due to some proposed expenditures not being needed, some repairs not having to be done, reduced use of overtime and the delayed hiring of personnel. The mayor noted the village also experienced an "unforeseen" increase in property tax and income tax collections.
Hovey highlighted the accomplishments of 2016, which included completing the sidewalk program, installing new water meters at nearly every home, renewing the village's trash-recycling contract with Kimble for three more years, training police officers on administering narcan for drug overdoses, granting employees "a meager but well-deserved" cost-of-living pay raise, stabilizing the Fenwick Park creek bed, purchasing "technologically advanced" body cameras for police officers and establishing a salt purchase agreement with the Cuyahoga Falls City School District.
"[The Cuyahoga Falls City Schools] purchase available extra salt from us, and we load their trucks for them," explained Hovey. "They pay us for this service. While we do experience some monetary gain from this, I do not view it as a revenue-producing venture. What they pay covers our costs, and then some. But they can only buy salt if we have extra available salt that we can sell without jeopardizing the village salt supply I view this as a good neighbor policy. We are helping the schools, something I feel we have an obligation to do whenever possible."
Plans for 2017
This year, major plans include examining funding options for the Lee Road sewer project, exploring solutions for flooding problems on Englewood Road and Harriett Road, and buying a 5-ton dump truck for the service department and a new cruiser for the police department.
The mayor also noted he and Council will "continue discussions" on how to address the rising number of deer in the village and whether they would allow the drilling of a natural gas well on village property. Hovey emphasized that "no action and no decision" has been made on either issue.
"While these topics have generated some controversy, and will continue to do so -- probably even after a course of action has been decided upon -- it is our duty to discuss, not ignore, the pros and cons of both of these issues," said Hovey. "Your input, your comments, your views and your suggestions on both topics are both welcome and encouraged."
Village is 'getting younger'
Hovey noted the village's make-up "is getting younger" as he reported that many of the 56 homes sold in Silver Lake last year were purchased by "Generation X'ers."
"It seems that there are more and more young families moving into the village," observed Hovey. "This is an evidential sign of how appealing and alluring raising a family in Silver Lake is. It also gives notice to the Cuyahoga Falls Board of Education that we deserve, and expect, to always have a public school located in the village. Long live Silver Lake Elementary School."
Hovey talked about his own emotional allegiance to the village.
"I love everything about Silver Lake, and I am both proud of, and humbled by, the position I hold," said Hovey. "We live in a special place. Those of us who have been here for decades can attest to that."
He also noted that the old guard was "getting tired," and that now was the time for younger residents to volunteer their time to "preserve and enhance all that has made Silver Lake such an enjoyable and enviable place in which to live and raise our families. If you step forward, you will be welcomed."
Hovey, who has served as mayor for nearly 11 years, finished by thanking his wife Kathleen for her "love," "support," "advice," and "occasional criticism."
"I couldn't do this without you," an emotional Hovey said to Kathleen, who was seated in the audience. "I don't know where I'd be without you. Probably not here."