Something new for city in 2013: spending money
Grants, levy mean plethora of upgrades in new year
For the first time in recent memory, the city of Grandview Heights is heading into a new year with a full to-do list.
"It's probably the first time we are in a stable financial position" since he took office in 2004, Mayor Ray DeGraw said.
The city expects to operate at a budget surplus in 2013 instead of a deficit, he said.
In addition to voters' approval of a levy in November that gives the city operating revenue and funds to use for street improvement projects, Grandview had "a great year" in winning grants and low-interest loans that will allow it to proceed with a variety of projects, DeGraw said.
"You're going to see a lot of activity all over town over the next couple years," he said.
"They kid me around the city building that 'we're not sure you know how to spend money.'
"We've spent the past several years struggling to maintain our level of services," DeGraw said. "Our staff is an extraordinary group of people that have been creative in finding ways to operate" under budget constraints.
DeGraw said he will bring council a capital plan this month that will include $250,000 in road improvements made possible by the levy's passage.
Engineering work will continue this year for a project to review and make improvements where needed at traffic signals throughout the city, he said. The project, which will include installing wheelchair ramps at the intersections, is being funded through a $3.1-million MORPC grant the city received in 2010.
The city has applied for another grant that would allow it to connect its traffic signals to the city of Columbus' system, which would allow Grandview's traffic signals to be monitored and controlled based on traffic patterns in adjacent areas of Columbus or other municipalities, DeGraw said.
Last month, the Ohio Public Works Commission approved both of Grandview's applications, awarding the city about $7.8 million in grants and zero-interest loans to help fund infrastructure improvements at the Grandview Yard project area and sewer and road improvements on Goodale Boulevard from Grandview Avenue to Lincoln Road.
Residents also can expect to see work on Safe Routes to School projects in 2013, DeGraw said.
In 2011, the local Safe Routes group earned nearly $300,000 in grants for projects along routes students take to school that will be redesigned to encourage more youngsters to walk or bike to school.
After the city's successful sale of $2.8 million in bonds in December, plans for improvements to Pierce Field and Wyman Woods parks will proceed this year, DeGraw said.
"The parks advisory board has done a wonderful job in developing recommendations for the park improvements," he said. "The Pierce Field project (including construction of a new multipurpose building) will go to bid in the spring."
Money left from the bond sale will be used to pay for improvements to the municipal pool, DeGraw said.
Two businesses will move their operations to Grandview this month, bringing 160 jobs to the city, he said.
Dawson Resources, a recruiting firm, will move its operations into the former Thomas W. Ruff building on Dublin Road, and 2Checkout. com, a company that provides online payment processing services, will move into space in the Loth building at 855 Grandview Ave.
The city is close to being 100-percent full in its available commercial space, DeGraw said.
With work continuing on road and infrastructure improvements on Third Avenue in Columbus near Grandview Yard, "I think we can expect some further development at the Yard being announced by Nationwide," he said.
DeGraw said the city will again plan to hold more community meetings this year, as it did last fall, to gather input from residents about potential uses for the acre of land Nationwide is providing the city in the Yard development.
"Overall, we are in a good financial position to get us through the next few years," he said. "I'm looking forward to a very busy year."