“A VILLAGE WITH VISION”
2014 ANNUAL REPORT
Stephanie Summerow Dumas
VILLAGE OF LINCOLN HEIGHTS, OHIO
The vision remains the same with somewhat more detail: (1 )create a clean, safe, aesthetically pleasing environment; (2) ensure a financially and economically thriving community regardless of the continuing decrease of personal income, state/local funding and property taxes. (3) provide recreational, educational and job opportunities that will not only enhance the quality of life of the residents and businesses but also attract new ones.
THE VISION: A CLEAN COMMUNITY
A Regional Recycling Incentive Grant (RRI) has been written for the last three years and once again it was approved for the Village. This grant allows the Sheriff’s Department to implement the Litter Patrol Program. We continue to increase our recycling rates throughout the community and within the municipal building.
“Go Cincinnati” and “Clean - up Cincinnati” continue and be involved for the past three years in bringing a multitude of volunteers to the Village to improve the physical appearance. Keeping the Village clean remains an enormous task due to the insufficient staffing level of the Service Department. The appearance of housing that is need of repair is covering the village. Absentee landlords show a decreased desire to keep their properties in good condition. The Street Maintenance and Repair Budget was reduced for three straight years. Most recently in 2014 there has been an additional 10% cut. .
Vendors were recommended to try a new effort to provide services and to save monies. Due to the lack of satisfaction with the snow removal vendor, it was decided to return to an employee based Service Department. The cleaning service for the municipal building and police area for the facility worked out well. A Service Department was established 4/01/2014 and three (3) employees were hired.
There is still a need to have sewer maintenance, road paving and repair along with street cleaning. Dumping continues to be a major problem for the Village even after increasing the fine from $100.00 to $1,000.00 in 2012.
There were two successful tire recycling events held in 2014.
David Edwards began as the part-time Code Enforcer on 1/06/2014 which has had a great impact towards making the residents more responsible for their properties.
The Port Authority continues to be involved with the demolition of condemned properties by using the $280,000.00 grant that was allocated to the Village.
Greater Cincinnati Blacktop was a vendor contract that was retained to repair pot holes. There was a one year guarantee for the work done but it was somewhat difficult to get them to return for repairs.
The focus continues to be grass cutting, snow removal, pot holes, street sign replacement, upkeep of Memorial Field and facility cleaning. Several lots were cut by the Service Department and after the owners were notified and after no response, a list of liens was developed to recoup the costs.
The Service Department attended snow plowing training to prepare for the 2014-2015 snow season. Although 2014 was a somewhat of a milder winter than 2013, the Service Department performed well.
The lack of repair of streets will inhibit the Village’s ability to attract businesses and residents. There is a desperate need to have streets in good repair. A Street Assessment was conducted by CDS engineers and Council made the decision to completely repair Dixie Court. The Village paid a 10% matching fee and received additional funding from OPWC. The total cost of the Dixie Street Project is $328,200.00
THE VISION: A SAFE COMMUNITY
A new Police Chief, Conway Chance was sworn in March 2014. The Chief has been working in the department for 22 years. Respect My Block has met consistently for the past year. This group is composed of residents, staff and council. This group, brings in speakers, discusses safety issues and reviews crime statistics.
A new Fire Chief, Jonah Holbrook was also sworn in March 2014. The Chief has been working in the department for seven years. Staffing had been low but steadily after much effort the numbers increased during the year. Dr. Joel Pranikoff continues to be the Medical Director.
The City of Wyoming decided not to re-sign the EMS agreement in 2014 unless the contract was increased from $14,000.00 to around $40,000.00. This increase was cost prohibitive for the Village. After assessing other communities, it was decided to partner with the Village of Woodlawn. The agreement negotiated was $1.00 a year for Advanced Life Support services. The billing that is generated from that service would be paid to Woodlawn.
Due to the lack of staffing and some older equipment, there had been discussion and research regarding partnering with the Village of Woodlawn Fire Department. In conclusion it was not advantageous to the village, because of the financial burden and the possible loss of our autonomy.
The Police Department was abolished on October 14, 2014 due to the lack of the ability to receive
insurance coverage. In order to establish a permanent safety strategy negotiations began for a contract with the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Department. The Hamilton County Sheriff’s Department maintains the safety of the Village until 12/31/15.
THE VISION: FISCAL RESPONSIBILITY
The Village continues to pay a total of $528,770.00 tax penalty to the Hamilton County Auditor for the Princeton School District. The remainder of $158,000.00 is being paid through payments of approximately $28,000.00 quarterly which will be completed in 2016. Finalizing these payments will help to contribute additional monies for street repair and other essential village services.
The budget continues to be stretched by the monetary payments made for several legal costs. Due to a lack of reserve funding and a need to guarantee that basic services are provided there were no salary increases. The decision was also made to reduce the number of hours worked for administrative clerical staff from full-time to part-time status.
The Village is obligated to pay police pension and unemployment monies for a short period of time for those police officers who are no longer employed.
The Sheriff’s Department determined initially that the services provided would cost the village $912,000.00. After working with the Sheriff’s Department the cost was negotiated to $847,000.00. After a thorough review of the Village expenses it was clear that $773,000.00 would be the figure that the budget could be financially handle.
Mayor’s Court provided significant revenue for the Village, nearly $8,000.00 -$10,000.00 per month. Because the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Department’s inability to write village citations, it has limited the village’s revenue stream. The Sheriff’s Department is working with the County and the Law Director to enable them to revise the tickets and to cite offenders.
The Finance Director was out for five months and staff worked to keep the department running. The Financial Consultant resigned immediately upon return of the Finance Director. This was a critical time because the planning for the 2015 budget was essential and financial certifications needed to be sent to the Hamilton County Auditor. A new Financial Consultant, Ms. Ronnise Handy was contracted for the Village and an agreement was signed in January 2014.
A tax amnesty began November 1 – December 15, 2014 and generated $10,985.35. The plan is to continue this amnesty process for 2015.
To better communicate to the Village, the community telephone tree process was contracted for $800.00 and has been influential in increasing the involvement of residents in the decision making process within their community.
A new website for the Village was negotiated for a minimal fee of $2,900.00 with Revize. This website will be helpful to stir the interest of not only the residents but outside communities and businesses.
THE VISION: ECONOMIC EXPANSION
It is extremely clear that economic expansion is essential to the viability of the Village. The prior year did not allow for providing matching funds for road improvements. The Village is interested in developing for mixed use. The move towards mixed use of properties is now national phenomenon. On 7/31/2014 the Hamilton County Development Corporation held a conference in which mixed use was the focus of the entire conference.
The I-75 expansion project conducted by the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) resulted in buying some properties on the gateway of the Village. This project will beautify the area and bring in additional revenue. There are three large parcels in the epicenter of the Village that need to be demolished. The Village has been working closely with the Port Authority to demolish residential property that has been condemned.
Village has been working closely with the Port Authority to demolish residential property that has been condemned. Unfortunately the funds from the Port Authority are only for the demolition of residential properties.
The goal is to start a revitalization of the Village by selling village parcels and attracting new businesses and retaining the existing ones. There were two graduate students Ying Yang and Jung Li from the University of Cincinnati that developed a walkability plan. More people are being more health conscious and wanting to walk more and get their needs met along the way.
Business and residents and need to believe they can have a profitable business and not lose their property values. This revitalization will include an additional business sector, pockets parks, planning for a recreational facility along with a more walkable community.
The possibility of losing the Elementary School was almost inevitable this year. There was some thought by the Princeton School Board that there was an issue of safety for our children. Through the work of the residents, council and village administration, the school remained open. Statistics show that when choosing what community to move into the quality of education is a definite factor that is considered.
Reece, Campbell Constructions and Habitat for Humanity through the Hamilton County Community Action Agency are leveraging a total of $340.000.00 to create one residential build and one structure to be rehabbed. A Collaboration Assessment Grant was signed with two other communities for $600,000.00 for the purpose of conducting an EPA Brownfield Assessment.
THE VISION: PHYSICAL AND EDUCATIONAL ACTIVITIES
For all residents, activities have been somewhat limited in 2014. Outside communities have made efforts to recruit the children of Lincoln Heights on sports teams within the Village with some success. The Lincoln Heights Valley Boosters continue to recruit and advocate for the children to remain in their own community. It’s been proven that an active lifestyle makes for a more well- rounded person.
The Recreation Committee and community volunteers held a 3-on-3 Basketball Tournament for the second year and it was very successful.
The Lincoln Heights Festival was held to bring out residents, former residents and visitors for fun, food and fellowship. This was the first time it was held at the “Serenity Park” across from the municipal building. The festival resulted in fun for all and provided easy access to parking, restroom, police and fire.
The Lincoln Heights Planning Committee is looking forward to getting started on the next festival. This is a great event that has been a tradition for many, many years. 2015 will mark the 69th year of existence for Lincoln Heights first as a city and then as a village.
The Village Market concept was introduced to provide a vehicle to access fresh foods and an opportunity to generate income for vendors. For several reasons the market did not get the jumpstart as projected. The plan is to have the market up and running a few times for the summer.
Camp Hope was held in the summer of 2014. The camp was paid through the Lincoln Heights Baptist Church, Lincoln Heights Recreation Committee, public and private donations. This is always a great activity for the younger children from Kindergarten to fifth grade. The camp also included an educational component. St. Monica’s Recreation Center is also a great community partner and has a summer camp which serves the youth and teens.
St. Monica’s Recreation Center is also a great community partner and has a summer camp which serves the youth and teens.
THE VISION: JOB CREATION
The Village is committed to the employment of its residents. There are many qualified and experienced residents that contribute to the positive development of the community activities.
The Brownfield Grant which will be used to assess certain properties through the EPA will need workers for some of the preliminary work. When the Cincinnati Hamilton County Community Action Agency comes in to fulfill the $380,000.00 grant, the request will be to use some of our residents that are qualified to work. Residents were also used through Mayor’s Court for community service.
The Village employed 15 young people in 2014 through the Youth Work Program in all areas: Service Department, Clerical, Village Manager’s Office, Council and Police Department.
In 2015 we will continue to hire young people to provide them with monetary contributions but also enhance their working and social skills.
Stephanie Summerow Dumas