Mayor’s Report – published in the Willoughby Times:
As we begin our budget process for 2021, we are happy to report that 2020 ended with Willoughby in a sound financial position. Although we suffered approximately $1.2 million in lost income tax revenue, our CARES Act funding, advanced Bureau of Workers Compensation payments, and overall “belt-tightening” helped manage our balance sheet. With a very modest capital budget, we were able to purchase a needed replacement squad for our Fire Department and three new cruisers for our police department.
We are also happy to report that we received a total of $600,000 in State of Ohio Capital Grants to begin planning the Chagrin River Trail and amphitheater. If permitted this summer, we are hopeful to engage our residents in visioning sessions to re-imagine our Chagrin River corridor and Todd Field. We also intend to continue our public engagement meetings with residents to discuss issues and projects throughout our City.
The Lakefront SID has finally been created and includes all 13 Lake County cities, townships, villages, and the City Euclid in Cuyahoga County. This will create a much-needed funding source for erosion control improvements to our residents. The law firm working with us is expecting a term sheet from Lake Erie Bank, and we anticipate about $10 million in the first phase of funding. We are now reaching out to Lakefront property owners to assist them in the application process.
A long-awaited resolution to the EPA issues surrounding the Riverside Commons project located at State Route 2 and Lost Nation Road reached our office recently with the final signature by the Cleveland Federal Judge hearing the case. With his signature on the consent decree, our involvement in this case ends. We are hopeful the remaining lawsuit between the developers and the EPA will also be resolved quickly. These settlements will allow our Economic Development team to begin marketing this site.
Our Transportation for Livable Communities Initiative project for the Vine Street Corridor study has been delayed due to the impacts associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. This TLCI grant represents a $120,000 study of Vine Street from Lakeshore Boulevard to our historic downtown. Of critical importance to this study are the traffic counts along this corridor. The reduced traffic due to the pandemic may impact design solutions, and our funding agency has postponed obtaining this data. NOACA and the Ohio Department of Transportation are evaluating alternatives for this problem to get the project underway.
Lake County is encouraging residents to sign up for their reverse 911 system. This system allows the county Emergency Management Agency to communicate with our residents in situations such as flooding, extreme weather conditions and other emergencies. Residents can find important information about this service at www.lakecountyohio.gov/ema.
Finally, we encourage our residents to visit our website to find the latest information on our projects and initiatives to see meeting dates and agendas. While general information on the pandemic and vaccination is on our website, our local authority is the Lake County General Health District at www.lcghd.org.