Reynoldsburg city leaders predict 2016 will present a number of challenges, including major road construction and the need to generate more revenue not only to maintain city services, but to build a community recreation center.

Reynoldsburg city leaders predict 2016 will present a number of challenges, including major road construction and the need to generate more revenue not only to maintain city services, but to build a community recreation center.

Mayor Brad McCloud said a final city budget for 2016 is being prepared and would be presented to City Council as soon as possible.

"It must be voted on and in place by March 31," he said. "While revenues are moderately up over last year, the reality is that Reynoldsburg continues to operate on half the amount of revenue of other cities our size.

"This means we have to continue to properly prioritize our spending in order to provide city services in an efficient manner."

He said Reynoldsburg is seeing more success in economic development.

"We will continue to aggressively tout Reynoldsburg's advantages as a great place to own and operate businesses," he said. "We are excited about the development potential with our partnership with Etna Township and think great things are on the horizon."

The city and Etna Township announced plans to partner in two joint economic-development districts covering more than 500 acres. Also on the development front are renovations at the Blacklick Plaza Shopping Center on East Livingston Avenue to create a "restaurant row" and plans by Methodist ElderCare Services to build a $3.5 million standalone wellness center.

McCloud said construction will start in the spring on a $4 million improvement project for Livingston Avenue.

"The entire road will be resurfaced and this will tie in nicely with the Brice Road improvement project that was completed in 2014," he said. "This project, largely funded by a state grant, will accomplish a significant infrastructure goal.

"This is a continuation of the efforts to revitalize the Brice and Livingston corridor," he said. "Upon completion of this project, there will have been nearly $10 million in infrastructure spent on Brice and Livingston."

A popular farmers market will expand this year, beginning this month with a winter market.

"We will have a winter- season market for the very first time," McCloud said. "These markets will be indoors at the Senior Citizens Center and run from Jan. 14 through Feb. 25.

"The market has proven to be very popular and we look forward to providing that service again," he said.

City Council changes

Three newcomers will join Reynoldsburg City Council this month: Stephen M. Cicak, Brett Luzader and Marshall Spalding.

McCloud said he is "excited to work with the new council members."

"Collectively, they seem to have energy, drive and some great new ideas," he said.

Cicak said he would like to see voters decide if a modern swimming facility/community center "is a need or a wish.

"I feel that this (community center) would attract working families to our city, resulting in increasing property values," he said.

On his "wish list" for the city in 2016 is "financial cooperation between our city and the school district with the development of a community center," based on a financial model used in Mason.

Luzader agreed the city's need for additional revenue might be the biggest challenge in 2016.

"While the city has been able to tread water for quite awhile, it is only a matter of time before expenditures take over and revenue will not be able to keep pace," he said. "When this happens, the city will have to reduce services to cut costs.

"I know this is a last resort, but eventually, there may be no choice," he said.

He said the hope to build a community recreation center "still comes down to the issue of money.

"Until residents decide whether they want Reynoldsburg to move forward with the times and approve some type of financial increase for the city, things such as this are just not possible," he said.

McCloud said he would continue to work toward placing an initiative on the ballot that would authorize construction of a recreation center.

"We are the only suburb in Franklin County without one," he said. "A preliminary recreation committee has formed, a site has been recommended and a number of moving parts are in motion.

"It will take a community effort for such an undertaking to occur, but I am very optimistic about the opportunity," he said.