New Albany's success at attracting businesses continued in 2013.
The city added more than 1,500 jobs at its business campuses in the past year, said city spokesman Scott McAfee.
That included the opening of Bob Evans Farms' corporate headquarters, which moved from Columbus with 400 jobs; iQor, which moved from Columbus with 500 employees and plans to add 300 more; Sedgwick Claims Management Services, which created 242 jobs; and e-Cycle's move from Hilliard, which brought 70 jobs.
Bob Evans on Oct. 26 opened its three-building complex totaling 153,512 square feet on 40 acres south of Smith's Mill Road and west of Beech Road.
The project received several incentives from New Albany to lure it from south Columbus, including: a 15-year, 100-percent tax abatement on real property taxes; a 20-percent income-tax credit for five years and a 25-percent credit on building inspections and fees if the company implements environmentally friendly technology on site; a 5-percent income-tax credit for five years for health and wellness initiatives; a $250,000 income-tax credit, repayable over two years, to help with relocation expenses; and a $1 million, interest-free loan for 10 years from the city's economic-development fund.
City officials have estimated Bob Evans Farms' annual payroll at $23.4 million, which likely will increase to $35 million within four years, when the company adds 100-plus jobs.
The city will share part of the $11.3 million in estimated income-tax revenue with the New Albany-Plain Local School District. The district's share is projected at $3.97 million.
The city will use $2.58 million from the income-tax revenue to pay infrastructure debt generated from improvements to the business campus where Bob Evans is locating, according to local officials.
IQor, which handles business processes, customer-service contacts, collections and outsourcing, received a five-year, job-creation tax credit approved by New Albany City Council on Nov. 13 for its move to the one-story New Albany Center of Technology building on West Campus Road.
The value of the incentive is estimated at $60,000 to $70,000, according to Jennifer Chrysler, New Albany's community development director.
Chrysler said the building already maintained an approved 100-percent, 15-year tax abatement for the tenant.
Chrysler said when iQor has all of its 800 jobs in New Albany, the company will have an estimated $20 million annual payroll that will generate $140,000 a year in income-tax revenue for the city, $140,000 for the New Albany-Plain Local School District and $105,000 for the New Albany Community Authority.
The community authority will use its share to pay debt incurred to build infrastructure for the city's business parks.
Sedgwick Claims Management Services, which specializes in claims related to workers compensation, short- and long-term disability, Family and Medical Leave Act and general, automobile and professional liability, was granted a five-year, 10-percent job-creation tax credit from New Albany City Council on Oct. 16 for opening an office in the Water's Edge building on Walton Parkway.
The 240 full-time positions are estimated to generate $9.6 million in annual payroll and an estimated $192,000 annually in income-tax revenue for New Albany, Chrysler said.
Chrysler told City Council on Oct. 16 that $67,200 of the income-tax revenue would be shared with the New Albany-Plain Local School District and $38,400 from the revenue will help retire debt issued through the New Albany Community Authority.
Hilliard-based e-Cycle decided in November 2012 to move its operations center to New Albany, but the company retained its distribution center on Leap Road in Hilliard.
E-Cycle buys mobile phones and other mobile devices from businesses and erases stored data. It disposes of or recycles the devices in "developing countries where the technologies are valued and needed," according to the company's website.
The company's new operations center at 7795 Walton Parkway in New Albany has 70 employees.
New Albany City Council on Aug. 21 approved a 10-percent income-tax credit on 48 new jobs expected to be created with the move.
In addition, the Ohio Tax Credit Authority on Aug. 27 approved a six-year extension of the company's 40-percent income-tax credit, originally granted in July 2009. The extension increases the credit to 55 percent over the next 11 years. The company has agreed to invest an additional $1.5 million in facilities, to create 233 new jobs and retain 17 existing jobs, according to a release from the Ohio Department of Development.
City's first hotel
With new business also came the city's first hotel, the Courtyard by Marriott, which opened April 18 on Forest Drive.
The hotel employs 33 full- and part-time employees and has 122 rooms, 11 of which are specialized suites.
The hotel also is contributing to city coffers, by providing income-tax and bed-tax funds to the city.
Bed taxes are forwarded by the state to municipalities for use in marketing campaigns and other attempts to attract visitors.
An agreement approved by New Albany City Council in May 2011 specifies that the city will keep half of the money collected from the 6 percent bed tax. The other half will be used by the hotel for marketing.
Chrysler estimated if the hotel is 65 percent occupied throughout the year and averages a $140 per-night rate, the city would collect $249,000 from bed taxes annually.
The hotel was a welcome sight to city officials, who also welcomed several new faces to the staff after saying goodbye to police Chief Mark Chaney, who retired in March after 33 years as a law-enforcement officer.
Chaney began his tenure as chief of the New Albany Police Department in1998.
The city promoted Sgt. Greg Jones to interim police chief in March, and swore him in as the new police chief Oct. 16.
He started his career as a police officer in Perry Township and was hired by the New Albany Police Department in 1989. He was promoted to sergeant three years later and was serving as a sergeant when he applied for the interim chief position.
Jones will earn $90,026 annually as chief, with the city also paying $19,627 in benefits for him, McAfee said.
The police department promoted Officer Kris Daniels to the newly created fourth sergeant's position in May.
He worked as a deputy sheriff in Licking County and was a staff sergeant in the Ohio Army National Guard before joining the New Albany Police Department in 2002.
Daniels earns $73,865 annually, with the city paying $19,491 annually for his benefits, McAfee said.
Several other changes occurred under Jones' tenure as interim chief.
In August, four officers changed assignments: Leland Kelly replaced Daniels as the local DARE officer, and Ryan Southers is expected to step into the New Albany-Plain Local school resource officer's position in January 2014, when Kevin Deckop starts work as a detective.
Jeff Wall, who has worked as the department's detective for the past six years, is expected to go back on patrol in 2014.
Staffing changes also were made at New Albany Village Hall.
"We've had more movement in the last 18 months than we've had in all the previous years (of my tenure)," City Manager Joe Stefanov said.
The city appointed a replacement for former Finance Director James Nicholson, who resigned in June 2012.
New Albany City Council on Feb. 19 accepted Stefanov's recommendation to hire Chad Fuller as the new finance director.
Fuller, who was serving as Licking County's chief deputy auditor, started March 18.
Fuller 's wife, Kerry, teaches seventh-grade reading and language arts at New Albany Middle School.
He earns $94,500 annually, McAfee said.
Adrienne Joly, who had been serving as deputy community development director since Kathryn Meyer resigned in November 2012, was hired to the position Jan. 22.
Joly, a former intern for the city, was hired in April 2012 when the city created the position of project manager to act as a liaison between city departments and developers.
She is earning $75,145 deputy community development director.
Joly worked in both positions until the city hired Mike Barker, who has an engineering degree, in September.
The city also changed another position after one of the two administrative clerks left earlier this year.
Stefanov said instead of hiring another clerk, the city hired Charlotte Corley from Dublin as a project manager.
Stefanov said Corley will review local projects, grant applications and assist with special projects in all city departments.
One of the projects she is working on is to create performance measurements for the finance department, he said.
"As the community has grown, there's been a big difference in how my role has changed," Stefanov said.
Stefanov said he previously participated in all planning, helping to choose streetscapes and even drove a snow plow.
As his role has become more complex and tied to larger projects planning for the city's future, he needs to have others handle some of the smaller tasks.
"We've developed a maturity as our organization has developed depth," he said.
Stefanov said several other city accomplishments in 2013, included:
* Maintaining the city's AAA bond rating, the highest available.
* Completing street repairs and improvements to Main and High streets. The improvements included widening with turning lanes added, new sidewalks, street trees and lighting.
* Cleaning of and removal of invasive species from the Rose Run stream corridor on the south side of Dublin-Granville Road.
* Connecting the leisure trail on Thompson Road from the Thompson Road Park to Johnstown Road and on Central College Road between Johnstown Road and New Albany Road East.
The city also received good news in May, when Columbus Monthly declared New Albany first among 18 central Ohio suburbs rated in the magazine.
Columbus Monthly editors rated the suburbs based on "safety, housing and education data," according to the article.
At the time, city officials said their focus on attracting businesses is helping the community to grow and invest in projects that benefit residents.
Mayor Nancy Ferguson cited the Core, the New Albany Center for Community Health, a project started in in 2013 in conjunction with the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, Nationwide Children's Hospital and Healthy New Albany.
McAfee said it would blend personalized medicine, exercise and community activities all in one place and is serving as a "catalyst for additional development in our core village center."
The community health facility currently is under construction at the southwest corner of Johnstown and Village Hall roads.
Grisly death almost resolved
Not every important story of 2013 was positive, however.
Ali Salim, 44, of 5077 Turner Close, a doctor who worked for the Knox Community Hospital in Mount Vernon, took a plea deal Oct. 24 to avoid a trial in relation to the death of 23-year-old Deanna Ballman of Pataskala and her unborn daughter.
Salim's home is in the Columbus portion of Hampsted Village near New Albany.
He was charged early this year with kidnapping, raping and murdering Ballman and with murdering her unborn daughter.
To avoid the trial, he pleaded guilty to two counts of involuntary manslaughter, one count of tampering with evidence and one count of abuse of a corpse.
He also entered an Alford plea to a count of rape. The plea maintains his innocence but acknowledges prosecutors have enough evidence to convict him, according to WBNS-10TV.
Salim is expected to be sentenced Dec. 20, according to the Delaware County Prosecuting Attorney's Office.
Ballman met Salim Aug. 1, 2012, after allegedly answering an ad on Craigslist for housework.
Prosecutors say Salim injected her with heroin, killing her, and then ditched her car with her body in it on Bevelhymer Road in Harlem Township in Delaware County, 10TV reported.
K9 program suspended
The New Albany Police Department said goodbye to its K9 program in January 2013 after a 21-year-old Columbus man was bitten Nov. 30, 2012.
Officer Joel Strahler was on patrol Nov. 30 with Fanto, the department's police dog, when the man flagged him down at a gas station.
When Strahler attempted to leave the cruiser to listen to the man's questions, Fanto got out, too, according to the report.
McAfee said Strahler did not latch the door properly and the officer received a written reprimand for the incident.
As a result, the department decided to dissolve the K9 program it founded in 2010.
Fanto was returned to his trainer -- Azzi International Service for Dogs -- in January, when the program was suspended, Jones said.
The dog originally cost $7,500, paid for with insurance money the city received after its first dog, Bungee, was killed in an accident in May 2011.
"There was no cost to return Fanto nor did the city receive a refund," McAfee said in April. "The dog handler we purchased Fanto from offered an exchange for another dog but we instead chose to suspend the program."
City officials said at the time they had no current plans to revive the program.