State of the Village of Bratenahl 2015
By Mayor John M. Licastro
I am pleased to submit the 2015 State of the Village of Bratenahl Report, an annual requirement under the Ohio Revised Code.
There has been much debate in our Nation regarding Police Departments and the use of force. The men and women who hold these jobs have a very difficult task. Life-altering decisions must be made in the blink of an eye. Their own lives and lives of others may be at stake. At that moment in time one hopes that the experience and training these individuals receive lead them to make the correct decisions. Our Police Chief, Rich Dolbow, and Lt. Chuck LoBello have afforded every member of Bratenahl’s Police Department the opportunity to receive all manner of training available. We have also spent the monies necessary to have a Police Department properly equipped with the basics and the latest technologies as well. This combination of leadership, training and equipment is the only formula that, although not foolproof, produces men and women that we can trust to protect themselves while keeping us safe.
Village finances, buoyed by increased income tax revenue, are in great shape. Several factors are at play to make this happen. First and foremost, Bratenahl has residents who are very successful in the workplace. We have a relatively modest income tax rate – 1.5%, with a 50% credit if one works outside of the Village. Many communities have a rate of 2% or more. What has made the last couple of years unique is income from the NEORSD project to dig underground tunnels to collect polluted storm water before it flows into streams and Lake Erie. The terminus of this project is located south of the Shoreway on property owned by NEORSD that is in the Village of Bratenahl. Taxing the income of the individuals working on this project has given us a boost we would not otherwise have. We must continue to be frugal and cautious, as this income will eventually come to an end. The General Assembly in Columbus continues to operate in a mode that is reducing income to local governments.
This NEORSD project will be finished in 2019. Residents located across from the Easterly Wastewater Treatment Plant have struggled with the noise, truck traffic and dirt that are inevitable with a world class $500 million dollar project such as this. We have worked with NEORSD to attempt to minimize the impact. Proper maintenance of truck traffic and street cleaning by NEOSRD have happened at our insistence. ODOT repaved Lakeshore Blvd at the east end at no cost to the Village. We will continue to work with these Public Entities to protect our residents.
We have many items to consider for 2015. Here are some of them:
- Implementation and oversight of the Master Plan, including the Facilities and Land Use Study.
- Hiring of an IT firm.
- Ongoing street and sewer maintenance.
- Planning for ODOT’s replacement of sound walls along the I90 corridor (slated for 2016).
- Planning for the County’s replacement of the Nine Mile Creek Bridge on Lakeshore Blvd (slated for 2016).
- Green space access and clean-up..
- An updated employee handbook which will include random drug testing for all employees.
- Police/Service Departments needs and wants, including personnel and equipment.
- Pursuit of grants for any of the above.
- Long term strategy on taxes and finances in light of loss of Estate Tax and Local Government Fund and continued pressure by Ohio’s General Assembly on local government’s revenue stream.
- Consideration of consolidation of Village Debt on capital projects, both present and future.
- Potential shared use of Barbara Byrd Bennett Professional Development Center, including a CMSD operated pre-school for Bratenahl children.
- Renewal of one of the Village’s two property tax levies.
I would like to recognize and thank our hardworking and competent Village Staff, including Julie Kreiner, our Clerk of Courts, Joe Zalar, the head of our Service Department and his men, Tom Jamieson and Mary Ranney, who comprise our Building Department and Diana Cooks, our Deputy Village Clerk. These individuals care deeply about the job they perform. I would also like to thank our Village Clerk, Sheila Birch and members of Village Council for their hard work and dedication.
Village government has, in my memory, always functioned bottom up, not top down. As elected officials, we look for residents’ input and guidance to help make the correct decisions for our Village. That in turn allows Bratenahl to be on the proper path. Thank you for your feedback.
We look forward to a safe and prosperous 2015.
We hope to see you at our meetings. I close, as always, with the refrain from Bratenahl’s School Song:
…she is the best, the very best, all Hail to Bratenahl!