The following is the latest installment of Mayor Jim Boroff's monthly updates on city issues.
Citizens' initiative. Residents of Tiffin will be voting on an initiative ordinance Nov. 3. This is an opportunity to renew a voter-approved measure that was passed in 2004 that gives City Council more flexibility to effectively manage the city's finances.
Years ago, when the city income tax rate was increased by the voters from one percent to one and three-quarter percent, the stipulation was that 21.5 percent of the total income tax revenue immediately was to be allocated to capital expenses. At that time, most capital expenditures were financed by the income tax and the concern was that any increase in revenue would be allocated toward wages and benefits.
Back then, this concern had more validity than today. Now, many of our capital improvement projects and expenditures are funded from other sources today (i.e., grants, federal and state programs, bequests, low-interest loans).
The renewal of the initiative ordinance would continue the scaling of the 21.5 percent allocation for capital improvements back to 10 percent for six years, beginning with calendar year 2011. All this initiative ordinance does is set the floor on the income tax allocation to capital expenditures. City Council can use its discretion in increasing that amount as needed.
One argument against renewing the initiative is that maintenance of infrastructure and construction projects will suffer from reduced revenues. This is definitely not the case and certainly has not happened since the original enactment of the allocation reduction in 2004.
When I first got involved with city government back in 2000, we had a few million dollars worth of capital improvements. This year alone, we have in excess of $12 million worth of improvements and capital expenses. Furthermore, city council always has supplemented the capital allocations since voter approval of that measure. In 2005, an additional $172,000 of general fund revenue was added to capital expenditures over and above the mandated 10 percent. Similarly, in 2006 there was an additional $340,000 added, and likewise $200,000 in 2007 and $250,000 in 2008.
Surely, there always will be a street that needs repair work or a vehicle that needs replacing, but by and large, the administration successfully has maintained the appropriate schedules for repairs and maintenance. For those who do not believe the city has been diligent in pursuing improvements and maintenance, consider the following, and please note this is only a partial list of current projects and acquisitions in addition to normal street repaving, tree planting and other needed maintenance of the infrastructure:
n Purchase of a new ambulance.
n Replacement of two police cruisers.
n Construction of the Clive-Lupton Bridge at Hedges-Boyer Park.
n Creation of the Schekelhoff Park walkway.
n River wall reconstruction and addition of the walkway.
n Glasshouse remediation.
n Phase III sewer separation.
n Beginning of the Lincoln Road area sewer rebuild.
n Oakley Park walkway.
n Ella Street Bridge repairs/rebuild.
n Completion of the Phase II traffic light program.
n West Market Street repaving.
n Miami Street reconstruction.
n Scrap ard remediation in conjunction with Tiffin University.
n Commissioning of the Tiffin Tomorrow downtown study.
n Purchase of the former Salvation Army building for municipal court future use.
Voter support of the initiative ordinance will allow City Council to more effectively manage city finances and provide our citizens the most effective services possible. I urge you to vote "yes" on this issue. It is not a tax, nor will the outcome affect your taxes. Your city government always has and will continue to meet the needs and concerns of the citizens.
Sewer project street restoration. There have been a few questions raised about the quality of the street restoration in some of the areas affected by the Phase III sewer project. Neighbors in Main Street area can rest assured the streets have been temporarily patched for the winter. The contractor was concerned proper paving could not be achieved during the cool weather. As soon as possible next year, overlay asphalt will be applied to those streets.
Traffic lights. Every once in a while, we receive suggestions and/or questions about the timing and operation about the various traffic lights throughout the city. Most of those on the main arteries, including Market, Perry, Sandusky and Washington streets, are computer controlled and adjusted to current traffic conditions. Others still are operated on standard timing mechanisms.
In all cases, we make every effort to meet the traffic demands. However, we do appreciate the public's input as we try to operate the systems as efficiently as possible.
If you have any questions about any issues facing the city, please feel free to write to me in care of 51 E. Market St., Tiffin, or at email@example.com. I am happy to speak with anyone who has concerns, suggestions or questions about the city. You may call my office at (419) 448-5401 or stop by without an appointment. To ensure I am available, please call ahead.