2015 STATE OF THE VILLAGE
Stephanie Summerow Dumas
LINCOLN HEIGHTS, OHIO
The year of 2014 was a year of transformation.
The Lincoln Heights Police Department was abolished on October 14, 2014 due to several factors but primarily the lack of the ability to provide insurance coverage. After much negotiation the Police Department was replaced by the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Department with a one year contract which ends 12/31/2015. We will continue to evaluate the ability of the Sheriff’s Department to provide safety services to the Village. In addition, through consultation with the insurance companies it is the consensus that there needs to be a track record of 2-3 years without major incidents of police liabilities to consider establishing our own police department. “Respect My Block” a community resident driven group continues to be active and vigilant in pursuing the eradication of crime.
The Lincoln Heights Fire Department previously considered in a partnership with the Village of Woodlawn for all fire services. Wyoming had provided advanced life support (ALS) for several years for $14,000.00 but decided that there would be a need to increase the cost to $40,000.00. Their rationale was to pay for the increased price of supplies used and the transport being made to the hospital. The Village of Evendale was also considered but their cost was at an even higher rate.
We are now in a one year contract with the Village of Woodlawn for ALS services.
With the rising cost of services, supplies, staffing, etc. among others and diminishing revenues, municipalities will have to take a much closer look at shared services in order to survive.
There have been several legal costs experienced by the Village that have depleted our financial reserves. Fortunately the negative impact of those payouts has begun to subside. This occurrence will allow us to breathe again, and to focus on the essentials that add to the quality of life for our residents.
Regional Income Tax Agency (R.I.T.A.) was discussed in 2014 as a possible vehicle for collecting income tax. No decision has been made as yet on utilizing this agency. House Bill 5 is a municipal tax bill that was introduced to the General Assembly in 2013 with the purpose of suggesting proximity, uniformity and simplicity within Ohio’s municipal income tax structure, and currently is waiting on the Governor’s signature.
The switch to Regional Income Tax Agency (R.I.T.A.) will not be needed if Sub HB5 is signed. The State would be in the role of the Tax Administrator. The prevailing thought is that HB5 will choke municipalities of necessary revenue and cripple the ability of municipalities to provide services to residents because of the bottleneck it will cause.
The Village currently owns 92 parcels of land. This land will provide a window of opportunity for increased revenue. The selling of these parcels need to happen immediately. We’re hoping that the sales will draw new residents, businesses and former Lincoln Heights residents.
The properties that are unkempt and unoccupied need to be addressed through eminent domain. In addition the enforcement of code violations will continue to be strictly enforced.
After a street assessment done by CDS Engineering regarding the condition of the thirteen (13) streets, all fell below street standards and in need of repair.
To attract businesses and new residents we will need to improve the quality of the streets. The Planning Commission will play an intricate part of the development process. The focus is to transform those parcels sitting idle into vibrant new developments. There are two operating levies that are to be voted on in November 2015. There is one for renewal of a 10 mill levy and the second one is the renewal of the 4 mill levy. The approval of these levies is essential to the efficient operation of the Village and providing basic services.
More focus needs to be given to recreation and social activities for young and old. Insufficient revenue is part of the issue but more importantly the lack of volunteers impacts the ability to fully provide the needs and plan for those wanting to be more involved. More utilization of Memorial Field will allow for the increase of revenues and usage by the outside public.
The concept of a Capital Campaign was introduced at the Recreation Committee. The community and council are interested in a Recreation/Activity Center to be built and staffed to meet the needs of all residents. It will take a united effort by residents, council, staff, businesses and churches to make this happen. There must be a marketing campaign which should include a re-branding. Both of these efforts will provide the necessary excitement to continue the growth of the Village of Lincoln Heights.
The goal is to transform the Village to a more vibrant, active community. This will allow for the expression of all of the unique qualities and attributes of its residents but also not forgetting our history.
Throughout this time of Transformation the Village workforce continues to strive to provide the efficient delivery of quality services. Hopefully has the revenues increase the Village will also have the ability to provide additional compensation for a job well done.
Stephanie Summerow Dumas