October 2020

As we start the early months of fall, we are happy to report we are managing the financial impact of COVID-19 well.  The CARES Act funding, as well as excellent management of expenses, has helped soften our loss of about 1.2 million dollars of income tax revenue. We see an increase in revenue during the last quarter of this year, and we hope that we will end this year with a lower but healthy fund balance. We are slowly beginning to return our furloughed staff, and we have lifted our hiring freeze, which allows us to improve services to our residents. The work required to manage our finances through the difficult past months was accomplished by our Finance Director, Diane Bosley, along with our Deputy Finance Director, Cher Hoffman and their staff. This team worked incredibly hard to manage costs, monitor revenue and accurately report expenses associated with the CARES Act funding.

An excellent example of this is our purchase of a new squad for our fire department and three police cruisers for our police department. These purchases require encumbering funds by mid-October and receiving these vehicles before the end of December. Considering a squad may take over a year to order, build, and equip before entering service, and a police cruiser at least six months, the speed and care used in obtaining these vehicles is impressive. Without the CARES Act, it was doubtful if any capital purchases, beyond dispatch center improvements, could have been made this year.

As the pandemic lingers, it is important to note that Lake County has done a remarkable job in managing this health crisis. New cases in Lake County, which had brief spikes in April, May, July and September have otherwise been steady, and we have avoided a surge that may have overwhelmed our local hospitals. As of mid-September, and since reporting began, there have been slightly over 1,400 hundred positive cases in Lake County and about 250 positive cases in Willoughby. Overall, we have done a great job of working through this challenging pandemic.

Development activity in our City is witnessing a significant upswing with the proposal of some exciting projects. We hear that Willoughby is a highly desirable place to live, and over the next few months, several residential proposals will be advanced. The administration and City Council recognize that our residents would like to learn about these projects and have a voice in their reviews. The pandemic presents challenges to the traditional public participation process of large meetings, and we are evaluating how we can best communicate with constituents. We will announce these meetings on our website and Facebook page once confirmed.

Finally, thank you for your continued support of our professional services firms, merchants and bars and restaurants, all of which have faced incredible hardships during the pandemic. Compliance with State and Lake County Health District guidelines have been difficult, and some are struggling for survival. Many of these businesses are owned or operated by our neighbors or friends, and we encourage our residents to continue to support local enterprises whenever possible.