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Mayor's Corner

KEVIN HURST
Mayor, Safety & Economic Development Director 

Dear Neighbors and Friends,

What makes a community a great place? The people who make up the community.  The Village of Walton Hills has great people who not only live here, but work here too; and that makes our Village a great place to not only live, but work.  The location of any given community also adds to its overall success - for us - we're between two major cities - Cleveland and Akron.  The infrastructure of a community often times is what jumps out to potential investors.  A community's accessibility from the interstate also plays into an investor's decision on where to re-locate or to start a new business.  The Village of Walton Hills has been working on branding, signage, and safety - all areas that if improved or upgraded correctly can help to bring new business to our Village to sustain our economy now and in the future. 

Our elected officials have worked with planners, engineers and landscape architects to create a beautiful community that is appealing to investors.  Walton Hills is an example of a small town that has created an identity for itself - as a community with a sustainable plan - one that will benefit our current residents, and future residents too.

As we begin 2018. I want to take a moment to reflect on 2017.  Walton Hills has held ownership of our new Community Center building, located at 14660 Alexander Road, now for a little more than 10 months.  Several events were held at the new facility last year that was beneficial to a lot of people - and I hope that trend will continue this year.  Some of the events that were held at the Community Center include: the Halloween Party - which served close to 85 children, and our annual tree lighting ceremony which hosted around 170 people, 54 of which were kids that sat on Santa's lap!  Not only did the Village host events at the center, but several folks rented the multi-purpose room and banquet hall for their own family gatherings.  That trend will continue this year as well.  Folks have already signed up to rent the building in 2018!  We ended 2017 on a good note - with our annual Santa Delivery!  Residents greeted Santa as he rode around the Village on a fire truck delivering gifts to residents of all ages!

Despite some minor challenges in 2017 - we managed to end the year on a positive note.  We plan on continuing that positivity into 2018 with several projects being discussed that will boost our community!  We are planning on improving the Walton Hills' corridors and intersections this year, including the Northfield Road corridor improvement project that we've discussed for three years.  The first business to make an investment in the beautification of our community was Fuel Mart.  We hope to have other businesses along Northfield Road join in on the beautification effort to improve our business district in 2018, including our gateway by Ward's Bridge.  There are several plans being discussed that would improve our community for years to come.  We're also expecting at least three different companies to invest in Walton Hills for 2018. 

Now, I'd like to fill residents in on a program that we will be starting this year.  Beginning on January 8th, on the second Monday of the month, I'll host "Coffee with the Mayor."  It'll start at 7 pm either in the Community Room or the Council Chambers, whichever is available.  Residents will have the opportunity to come and share their concerns or ask questions about the goings-on of the Village of Walton Hills.  I'll host "Coffee with the Mayor" during the winter months - or the first quarter - to see how many residents attend - and if it's something that will continue after the first quarter.  We'll continue to have our "Morning Meetings with the Mayor."  One of our goals this year is to get as much input from our residents to improve our communication with each other when it comes to the operations of the Village of Walton Hills.  

Now to provide information related to the 2018 budget.  The Village Council will pass a quarterly budget to review during the next three months - this includes reviewing proposals that have been presented to help offset our operational costs for 2018.  We have proposed to enter into an agreement which will allow Cuyahoga County to manage all of our sewer system maintenance for the future. This will save approximately $125,000 from our operational budget.  A new three year police contract has been presented to us for 2018 at approximately $1.7 million in operational costs, which is a reduction from the last contract of $2.2 million (an all-time high).  We have increased our police/fire dispatching services by $35,000.  The new service contract is for two different communities, which will bring in $181,000 in 2018 and effectively reduces our fire contract to under $400,000 (the outgoing cost to our Village).  This is still the lowest contract for service for our community since the late 1990s.  We escalated to $880,000 in 2008 for fire protection with no service on site at the Village Hall.  We have offered a budget with a reduction of approximately $200,000 less in operations.

Finally, with great regret we have accepted the resignation of a zoning board member.  After seventeen years of service, Mike Cummins informed the Village of Walton Hills that he is retiring.  We would like to say thank you for the almost two decades of work you put in to serving on the Zoning Board of Appeals.  We hope you enjoy your retirement!  Because of Mr. Cummins retirement announcement, the Village has an opening on the Zoning Board of Appeals.  Any residents who are interested in the position should apply with a letter of interest and a resume that shows your interest in serving our Village.  You can drop off your application in the white mailbox outside the Village Hall. Please have all of your application materials submitted to the Village Hall by Friday, January 19th.

 
May God Bless you in the New Year!
Kevin Hurst Mayor/Safety Director, I.G.I.T.