Conservative spending, drastic reductions in crime and the successful negotiation of the Portage Crossing development all contributed to a relatively successful year in 2011 for Cuyahoga Falls.
Mayor Don Robart, who presented his State of the City address on Wednesday at the Sheraton, was well received by a capacity crowd of city officials, business leaders and members.
"Despite living in an economy that is the worst that most of us have seen in our lifetimes, the state of our city is very strong and its future is very bright," said Robart in his opening remarks.
To overcome stagnant property tax returns, state funding cuts and other financial roadblocks created by the Great Recession, Robart said he and his staff have cut over 100 full-time positions – many of which through attrition – since 2006 to create roughly $8 million per year in savings.
That, coupled with averting $2.3 million in operation expenditures over the last six years, has kept the city in good financial shape, he said.
“Some might say I’m being too conservative, but we’re being cautious with the city’s money, and it’s paying off,” he said.
Chamber CEO Laura Petrella agreed, saying the city’s stable financial footing has led to an “economic upturn.” An increase in businesses that have joined the chamber and a spike in chamber events indicate a financial upswing for the city’s economy, she said.
Regarding crime, since Robart appointed Cuyahoga Falls Police Chief Tom Pozza last year, traffic enforcement is up 34 percent, sexual assaults are down 50 percent and aggravated assaults dipped by 16 percent.
Pozza said the statistics reflect the increased aggressiveness of officers to enforce the law. He attributed the curb in assaults to the curfews imposed on the city's youth, particularly during 2011's "Rockin' on the River."
High profile busts included: the shutdown of four methamphetamine houses and the interception of nearly 80 pounds of marijuana.
On the development end, the mayor expects the $60 million Portage Crossing development to break ground this spring.
The current plan calls for over 470,000 sq. ft. of mixed-use retail space to be constructed in one phase.
Click here for the mayor's complete State of the City presentation.