GREEN During his annual State of the City Address before a record crowd of 280 people, Green Mayor Gerard Neugebauer outlined what happened in the city in 2017 and goals and plans for 2018.
The theme this year focuses around building a stronger community. Neugebauer said the city is blessed to have well-maintained roads, a robust park system, caring families and individuals willing to give back, land for development, a diverse business base, highly trained safety services and a strong financial position based on conservative fiscal policies.
"As a city we are strong, but continue to work daily to build an even stronger community through thoughtful planning, dedicated, well-trained employees committed to spending wisely; while, striving to meet the many needs of our citizens with amenities and services desired by all," Neugebauer said.
Finances for the city remain strong as total revenue for 2017 was $35.2 million, a 5.6 percent increase from 2016. Neugebauer said the strength is due to a diverse business base, steady growth, conservative fiscal policies, leveraging other governmental funds and overall fiscally responsible actions.
The majority of income for the city comes from income tax, which was mostly flat in 2017, with only a 0.3 percent increase over 2016. Green’s significant increase was from other revenues with the awarding of grants from other governmental sources. The city obtained $320,000 from ODOT for Massillon Road north, $568,470 from a county grant for Boettler Road paving, $400,000 from the state for Central Park, $210,860 from the federal government for emergency response radios and $400,000 income from a one-time payment for motor vehicle registrations.
Expenses for the city in 2017, including operating and debt service, was $32.7 million, an increase of 8.52 percent over 2016. Neugebauer said the increase comes as the city paid down $2 million of debt. The city ended 2017 with $24.1 million in the general fund.
In 2017, the city completed more than $3.3 million (19.8) lane miles in resurfacing projects. The city also continued to design and plan for future projects, including two roundabouts. Construction of a roundabout at Corporate Woods Parkway and Corporate Woods Circle and at Pickle Road and state Route 619 will be done this year.
Neugebauer said roundabouts are proven to be safer for drivers because while there is no need to maintain a traffic signal, it still functions despite power outages. He said roundabouts also have a longer service life. In the two years the Lauby Road roundabout has been open, there has only been one reported accident (a fender bender). Whereas in the three years prior to the roundabout, the intersection averaged eight accidents per year.
The two roundabouts this year are only the beginning as the city plans to construct three roundabouts on Massillon Road north of Interstate 77 at the intersections of Raber Road, Stein Road and state Route 619. Right-of-way acquisition will start this year with construction of the $13.4 million project beginning in late 2019. The city is receiving $9 million in federal funds for the project, which will take two years to complete.
"In 2017, we began planning for several other intersection improvements and completed a roundabout study of seven intersections," Neugebauer said. "The study included only intersections that would be locally funded and would not qualify for federal funding."
The plan is to build a roundabout each year for the next seven or more years. In 2019, the city expects the roundabout at state Route 619 and Myersville Road will be built. Other intersections the study included are Graybill Road and Massillon Road, Arlington Road and Greensburg Road and three roundabouts on Mayfair Road at the intersections of state Route 619, Raber Road and Graybil Road.
"The construction sequence for these additional intersections is yet to be planned; however, we will plan the construction to have the least amount of disruption in the city, especially in relation to other planned infrastructure improvements in the coming years," Neugebauer said.
Parks and recreation
In 2017, more than 300 people attend the dedication of the final phase of the Green Veterans Memorial Park, which included the First Responders Monument and a second Stories of Service Grove Walkway along the west side of the Ribbon Walk. In order to complete this final phase over $90,000 was raised in funding.
Plans in the parks in 2018 include to update and add lighting along the walking trail at Veterans Park and install restrooms at East Liberty Park.
Green continues to develop its volunteer base, which is an initiative that is near to Neugebauer’s heart. The city logged more than 2,400 volunteer hours in 2017 and held the first annual Volunteer Thank You Breakfast to recognize Glenn and Becky Witsaman, who were named volunteers of the year.
Other notable projects included the Klinefelter Project, which was a project that involved Green High School’s AP Science to determine the true size of the historic cemetery. The city also launched the Student Municipal Representative program this past fall. The goal of the program is to have a student representative serve as non-voting members on city boards and commissions and special committees to offer them a glimpse into city government.
This year, the city will develop a sister relationship with Beius, Romania. Pastor Valentin Tent from the Romanian Baptist Church on Boettler Road reached out to the city about developing the relationship.
"Therefore, next month I will present a resolution to city council for their approval to enter into a Sister City agreement with Beius, Romania," Neugebauer said. "
Beius is located in the northwest corner of Romania near the Hungary border.
"Our vision for this Sister City relationship is to link residents of Green, students and business leaders with peers in Beius to learn from each other," Neugebauer said.
The city also plans to launch Green Community Leadership Initiative. The six half-day program will cover a variety of topics including education and workforce, community safety and health, economic development and growth and quality of life. Applications will accepted in early April for the first class.
The city saw 65 new homes built in 2007 along with 35 new businesses open. Three new senior housing projects opened including the Lodge at Brier Creek, The Gables of Green and Greensburgh Manor.
Other businesses that made an investment in Green were Splash Carwash, Spoonhower Orthodontics, Securitas, Kenda Tire, Rettew, State Farm, Planet Sub, Healthies Green and Peace Love & Little Donuts.
The city continues to contract with the Summit County Sheriff Office and recently signed a new three-year contract. Within the contract, an additional deputy was added during the peak hours of noon and 8 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.
The Green Outreach Go Team began in 2017, which brings together a team of a sheriff deputy, firemedic and social worker, who visit homes where a drug overdose occurred the prior week. The team expanded after the first month to visit any home where an EMS call involved drugs or alcohol. More than 100 homes were visited in 2017 with the person visited seeking help approximately 30 percent of the visits. Drug overdoses were down in the city in 2017 with only 60 reported uses of Narcan by Green Fire.
Green Fire responded to 3,841 calls for service in 2017, a 5.6 percent increase. Plans in 2018 include acquiring land in the northeast corner of the city to construct a third fire station.