2012 marked by many city changes in personnel
As 2012 draws to a close, the roster of Reynoldsburg employees includes new people in several positions.
In February, Mayor Brad McCloud announced that Police Chief Dave Suciu would be placed on administrative leave following a report that Reynoldsburg police used OnStar to track a woman's vehicle without a warrant and that she had sent text messages to a Reynoldsburg police officer, threatening suicide.
Suciu retired June 1 amid a departmental affairs investigation into his conduct and that of a Reynoldsburg officer regarding the December 2011 incident.
He was replaced briefly by former Lt. Scott McKinley, who left in April to accept a job with the U.S. Coast Guard; Lt. Jim O'Neill then served as acting chief until he was appointed chief of the department in September.
"During the last 12 months, we replaced the water superintendent, clerk of courts, the street superintendent, parks and recreation director and city engineer," McCloud said. "We are on our third service director this calendar year and at the end of the year, will lose our assistant street superintendent.
"It is a challenge to maintain our goals and objectives with this kind of turnover, but we continue to press forward," he said.
The shuffling of positions included Michael Root replacing Mark Kipp as water superintendent; Leslie Clark replacing Michael Kozanecki as clerk of courts and Kozanecki filling the new position of safety director.
Former OSU football player Joe Brown was hired as the new parks and recreation director to replace Jason Shamblin, and Matt Lambert replaced Mark Vogt as city engineer. Former Councilman Nathan Burd became the service director, succeeding William Smith, and Fred Slota was hired as Reynoldsburg's chief building inspector.
McCloud said the city is advertising now for a street superintendent to replace Dave Metzger.
The year 2012 also was memorable for hurricane-force winds whipping into town on June 29. More than 660,000 American Electric Power customers lost power across Ohio and many areas of Reynoldsburg were in the dark.
Power was restored to most areas of Reynoldsburg by July 2, but city crews responded to reports of trees on top of buildings and parts of roads such as Rodebaugh and Starfire blocked by downed trees and unstable power lines.
Despite the changes and problems, however, McCloud said, the city continues to hold events such as the Tomato Festival, the Fourth of July fireworks and parade that "help promote the feeling of community."
"We look forward to continuing those events in 2013," he said.
McCloud said Reynoldsburg can be proud that citizens are still being served at a level they expect, despite state revenue losses.
"One of the most significant things that happened this year is that despite losing over $1 million in funding from the state of Ohio, we were able to submit a balanced budget and to continue the level of services our residents have come to expect," he said.
Council members talked about a possible shortfall of about $2.7 million in the 2013 budget during city council meeting discussions in June.
Reynoldsburg voters have three times rejected requests to raise the city's income-tax rate, which currently is at 1.5 percent.
Councilman Scott Barrett said an ad hoc committee report submitted in 2011 said Reynoldsburg must raise revenue in order to continue running the city in a responsible way. He said the city has two choices to deal with pending shortfalls: Do nothing or raise taxes.
"The crossroads is this: We do nothing and continue to cut programs, staff and services," he said. "Infrastructure items like roadways and facility maintenance will continue to erode, and with those, our community. When I say community, I am referencing property values and the ability to draw new people into the city.
"If we raise more revenue, we can build programs back, maintain our facilities and make this a desirable city to live in," he said.
Barrett said he has been concerned about the lack of community involvement in the past year.
"As a new councilman in 2012, I was surprised at the lack of overall concern for the issues we discuss," he said. "Seeing city government from this side of the desk has demonstrated just how much local decisions affect our daily lives. The lack of community involvement and participation is even more disturbing.
"I've gone so far as to use social media as a means of communication and soliciting opinions, but even this has been less than I hoped," he said.