State budget cuts are forcing cities to put more emphasis on economic development, Hillcrest area city officials told members of the Mayfield Area Chamber Commerce at a luncheon meeting.
"State of Our Cities … Present & Future" featured speakers from , , and providing updates on their city and village administrations.
Mayfield Heights Mayor Gregory Costabile said his city has seen about a $1 million to $1.2 million drop in revenues due to state cuts and tax policy changes.
"Economic development becomes a top priority," Costabile said, citing 100 new jobs being brought into the city by Ferro Corporation. He also said his city has been more aggressive about seeking grants.
Costabile also devoted much of his talk to improved city communications, including a quarterly publication, new website, Code Red emergency notification system and the city radio station at 1700 AM.
"The more information you get out, the more vibrant your business or community will be," he said.
Development Director Ted Esborn, filling in because Mayor Bruce Rinker was busy in his role as a Cleveland Metroparks commissioner, talked about the need to address the vacancy creep going on through steps such as sustainable improvement grants.
He added that the village lessened setback requirements to allow more parking for a Beta Drive business that was expanding.
Esborn said that village officials saw what happened in Highland Heights with the Shoppes at Alpha Place and that some retail development may help retain businesses on Beta Drive.
"It looks like it works. Maybe we can do that," Esborn said. "It's a retention tool when employees don't have to go long distances to get lunch."
He also said people might be wondering about the big mound of dirt that is near Parkview Pool.
"It's our amphitheater and soon it will look like one," Esborn said.
Finance Director Anthony Ianiro represented Mayor Scott Coleman and said his city has had to make up for about $500,000 to $700,000 annually in state budget cuts.
"That's just something that was pushed on to us that we had to deal with," he said.
Nevertheless, he said Highland Heights has scheduled road work this year and is looking at a future water line replacement on Highland Road.
He also said city residents can look forward to a new gazebo on green space near City Hall.
"It'll be a gathering place for the community," Ianiro said.
He wrapped up by noting that Highland Heights was ranked 30th in CNN/Money's Best Places 2011 list of top small towns.
Mayor Connie White talked about the deck replacement taking place on the Old Mill Road bridge, which is scheduled to be closed until December.
"We hope we don't have a lot of snow in October and November," she added.
She added that the village has no intention of replacing the dam that washed away earlier this year.
"That made the fishermen happy. The river has a national reputation for good steelhead fishing," White said.
She wrapped up her talk by noting that she is not seeking re-election and this will be her final year as mayor.
"It's been a good eight years," she said. "I've enjoyed the people I have worked with."