By Zach Gase
Tiffin City Administrator Deb Reamer at her desk Friday.
Upon receiving the election results Tuesday night for the city income tax increase levy, few people took the news of its failure harder than Tiffin City Administrator Deb Reamer.
She said she felt "depleted" when the levy had failed, which was to replace the funds the state had cut from local governments to balance an $8 billion budget gap.
"I felt like, wow, this didn't just happen to my city," Reamer said. "I felt like I just didn't know what was going to happen next. In my position, I'm the one who has to lay them off. So I think about the families, I think about their children, I think about their future. It's a part of my job, but I don't take it lightly. I'm a very deep person, and family is very important to me."
She said she feels bad for the people that voted for the income tax to pass, and she said she appreciates their support. She also said she understands people who voted against the tax have their budgets, and they had the right to make the choice.
"No one's threatening you," she said. "We're taking it harder than anybody. We have to provide for this city, and we know the goals we set. The goal is to be the best. We want to bring the business here. We want everybody to want to come to Tiffin, Ohio."
Findlay also had a quarter of a percent tax levy fail, and as a result they had 44 layoffs, Reamer said, 22 of whom were firefighters.
"Think what they're facing," she said. "They're a close community to us, we're all suffering. It's not just Tiffin, Ohio. I don't know how they're going to deal with it. So I can't keep sitting here each day and go, 'poor me.' I have to fight even harder."
The city is working hard at finding new ways to save money, she said. It is accepting bids for copier machines, Eagle Rock farming property, as well as smaller things like phone contracts, envelopes and copy paper, she said.
The city is to save about $15,000 a year by accepting a bid for the copier machine contract, she said.
"I'm very proud to be in my position, I feel very fortunate everyday," she said. "That's why I put 'everyday's a gift' (on my wall). I look at it as, they could've put anybody in this role, you chose me, so I'm not going to fail you. I'm trying not to fail the city."
She said even though the city is understaffed, they have still been able to work together and help each other get work done.
"That walk needs shoveled, I'm going to shovel that walk, I guarantee you," she said. "Something needs to be done, I'm going to do it. And I know we all would do it. I know no matter what we all would do it because that's what city service is about. That's why I'm proud to work for our team, I'm proud to work for our people. Even those who didn't vote for it, I'm not going to fight any less for them."
One of the biggest cuts the city had to issue out was $303,003 to the fire department.
In July, 2011, Reamer said she had the opportunity to do a fire training session with the fire department, and that's when she gained a further appreciation for the work they do.
"I got to be in a fire with them, it was incredible," she said. "I was in there with them, I was in full gear. I carried a 100 pound hose up the steps, and the fire was this close to my head. I got to start the fire, and I got to put out the fire. And it was real. I couldn't see. It was the scariest thing I've done in my life. But it made me respect them so much more."
She said she dressed in a firefighter uniform for trick-or-treat, and gave out fliers with information on the tax levy.
A lot has changed around city administration since Remember came into office Feb. 3, 2011, but she has left an impression on some of the people she has worked with.
"Deb Reamer has been a godsend to the city of Tiffin," Tiffin Mayor Aaron Montz said. "I have never seen anyone work as hard or as diligently as she does. It's night and day, she's always available. I have never seen anyone that committed and that passionate about her job, and the job they do. She's an asset to the community, and I would hope we never lose her."
Reamer said she is definitely more comfortable in her second year as city administrator, than she was when she first took the job, after spending 17 years working at St. Francis Nursing Home.
"When I first walked in the door, on the first day, I was never scared, I looked at it as a new adventure," she said. "I was so excited, I was ready to bust. I remember on my first day, I was here really late, thinking, wow, I can't believe I'm here."
Years ago, she said people used to tell her that she would make a great city administrator.
"When I thought about my city, I never want to leave here," Reamer said. "It was a no brainer for me because I felt like, yeah, this is me. I am in the community. I love people. I'm not afraid of a challenge, I never have been. I came from a single mom; we had nothing. I didn't care because I always had fun."