The Canal Winchester Times

Groveport

Village benefits from strong fiscal management

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Groveport continued to grow through its transition from village to city in 2012.

City Administrator Marsha Hall said the staff worked hard this past year to update budget processes, negotiate the city's first collective bargaining contract and complete personnel classification plans required by city status.

"We continue to review operations to provide the citizens of Groveport with excellent customer service," Hall said. "We have spent considerable time in 2012 reorganizing in order to provide better service to our residents and businesses."

Finance Director Jeff Green attributes strong fiscal management with making the city's financial standing stronger at year's end than it was at the beginning of 2012.

"Our income tax revenue is up 9.5 percent over last year. We are cautiously optimistic regarding our financial outlook," Green said. "However, we are also aware of possible state changes to the municipal income tax collection, which could result in reductions in revenue - so we'll be paying close attention to this in 2013."

Ohio House Bill 601 would bring municipal income tax collections under state control. It is currently being opposed by the Ohio Municipal League, an organization of which Groveport is a member.

A recently announced development agreement with USA Vinyl is among business developments in 2012.

"We've been working with a large industrial prospect for a new development at Air East," Hall said.

Clarifications to the zoning code were adopted this year in an attempt to ease development for business and residents.

"As a rule, legislation is always drafted and adopted keeping in mind its impact on residents and businesses," Hall said. "So, for example, the zoning code was made more user-friendly and the Regional Economic Growth Agreement will hopefully keep other central Ohio communities from poaching businesses that are currently located in Groveport."

USA Vinyl is relocating from Hilliard; according to Green, Groveport officials were very cautious in pursuing the deal so they could make sure they hadn't "poached the company from (Hilliard)."

"Any time we can attract new businesses to Groveport is obviously a plus," Hall said. "The revenue from our businesses significantly assists in providing some of the excellent services we offer our residents and businesses - our second-to-none recreation center, the golf course and our wonderful adult and youth community programs at Town Hall."

Groveport's golf course saw nearly $200,000 in capital improvements this year.

However, one capital project that wasn't as well received was the new water plant.

City council voted 4-2 to proceed with the $3.17-million project.

The Ohio EPA forced the city either build the new facility or contract with the city of Columbus to provide water service to residents not already on the Columbus system. The estimate for that contract was $3.29 million, including connection costs of about $1 million.

In order to pay for the new water plant, rate increases will be phased in over the next five years.

"A 95-percent increase over five years is going to hit people hard," Councilman Ed Dildine said in voting against the plan to construct a new water plant.

Groveport was among several central Ohio communities hit hard by summer storms in 2012.

"The storms in June caused severe damage and power outages that trimmed back the annual Fourth of July celebration substantially," Hall said.

Madison Township Fire Chief Robert Bates said triple-digit heat on top of the power outages and storm damage made this a particularly difficult event.

The city was able to recoup $55,000 in damage relief from FEMA.

One celebration that did go off without a hitch this year was the fire department's 70th anniversary of service. A reunion of past and present firefighters and their families was a great success, according to Bates.

"We are so pleased with the direction our city's operations are going," Hall said.

 

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