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Cuyahoga Falls Income Tax Holds Steady Through Recession

City will continue trimming expenses while investing in its future.

Income tax collections for Cuyahoga Falls stayed steady through the recession.

Total income tax revenue for the city for the past four years was:

  • $18.7 million in 2008
  • $18.2 million in 2009
  • $19.4 million in 2010
  • $18.6 million in 2011.

Finance director Joseph Brodzinski noted in 2011 revenue increased in part because of some one-time payouts from the sale of a company.

As of June, the city has collected about $9.9 million of a projected $18.9 million for 2012.

So far, Brodzinski has seen a 3.5 percent and 4 percent growth in revenue compared to 2011. Generally, he expects between 1.5 percent and 2 percent annual growth.

The majority of the city’s income tax collections come from employee paycheck withholdings. Around $11 million, slightly more than a third, of income tax revenue goes toward the general operating fund, which is typically around $30 million.

Susan Truby, director of economic development in Cuyahoga Falls, has seen a different form of recovery. She’s seen a slight pickup in permit values in total costs of building projects, from about $30 million 2009-2010 to $31.3 million in 2011. Through June 2012, there have been $19.9 million in projects that have received permits.

Still, that’s nowhere close to the $54 million in projects permitted in 2007.

“What I would tell you is that construction is coming back. Probably not at the greatest pace everyone would love, but it is coming back,” Truby said.

The new Acme, the Waterfront building, new medical building on Portage Trail and Portage Crossing all serve as ongoing examples. There are others in the works.

“There are a lot of things that are in the pipeline where I think projects are waiting for financing, waiting for additional investors or whatever,” Truby said. “They’re there. They’re being talked about. They just haven’t come to fruition yet.”

The economic development office doesn’t track vacancy rates for the city, but Truby said the majority of industrial parks are close to, if not, fully occupied. In the newest industrial park, Truby estimated there’s only about four acres of land available. As a result, real estate agents are looking at vacant parcels to develop. Within the past few years, the city was rezoned into quadrants, each with different history and long-term development designs.

But new projects there will take time, and Brodzinski is concerned about city revenue in the more immediate future, especially as the city prepares to lose more than $2 million in 2012 and 2013 from changes and cutbacks in state funding.

“Obviously, there will be more to come as the cuts get deeper,” Brodzinski said. “But we’re planning for that.”

At the end of 2011, the city had about $7.3 million in general fund reserves. City officials have resisted dipping into those reserves to make up for any slight dip in income tax revenues the past few years.

Instead, the city has maintained the general operations fund through various budget cuts since 2006, including restructuring personnel responsibilities and leaving positions unfilled.

Brodzinski said officials will continue to watch revenue and make adjustments to the city’s financial plan as necessary. Cuyahoga Falls officials plans three years in advance so the city isn’t blindsighted by or scrambling to react to any kind of change.

“We’re not going to run to the people and say ‘We need more money,’” Brodzinski said. “Everybody is suffering in the economy and we will not be asking for additional money.”

The city will continue to put 29 percent of income tax revenue into the capital projects fund as required by law.

“We’re not going to sell our future to balance the books for today,” Brodzinski said. “We’re not going to transfer less money into the capital projects fund, so we will continue to maintain our capital projects and keep our infrastructure running.”

Editor’s Note: In this series, Patch gauges the recovery of 18 Ohio communities based on income tax receipts since the Great Recession. Read about

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