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NEW KNOXVILLE — Two days after President Barack Obama gave his State of the Union address, mayors from the Golden Triangle met in New Knoxville on Thursday to give their summation of 2011 and outlook for 2012.
Minster Mayor Dennis Kitzmiller took to the podium first and gave a recap on his village’s activities in 2011. Spending and income tax revenue dominated his address.
“In Minster, local officials continue to hold a tight line on spending, while keeping a watchful eye on shifting income revenue,” Kitzmiller said, noting in 2011, the village saw a “favorable increase” in local income tax revenue, although this increase was somewhat offset by a reduction in general fund revenues “due to cuts in local government funds through the state.”
He said other funds, such as the water, wastewater and electric funds, remained relatively unchanged.
The village itself grew in 2011 as more than 23 acres of land were annexed, the majority of which will be used for future industrial development.
Kitzmiller mentioned several new programs for local electrical customers that developed in 2011, including the Efficiency Smart Program and the EcoSmart Choice green pricing program. Both of these programs enable customers to purchase more environmentally friendly forms of electricity.
Village project highlights for 2011 included the Miami and Erie Canal Restoration Project, the construction of the new wastewater treatment plant and the remediation of the former Minster Oil site.
As for this year, the village plans to witness the completion of the Fourth Street Reconstruction Project and the new wastewater treatment plant.
Also in 2012, Kitzmiller said Crown Equipment will be moving approximately 100 jobs into the former Safeway Packaging building in Minster.
“This is great news for our community and we would like to welcome Crown to Minster,” Kitzmiller said.
Kitzmiller concluded his speech by discussing the future economy.
“In 2012, we expect the village will continue to see economic trends similar to 2011,” Kitzmiller said, noting he expects income tax revenue to remain relatively constant and the general fund budget to remain relatively tight.
New Knoxville Mayor Keith Leffel addressed the village’s income tax receipts, which rebounded in recent years.
In 2008, New Knoxville’s income tax collected approximately $283,000, which dropped to $269,000 in 2009 and $249,000 in 2010. New Knoxville’s income tax collection jumped back up to $280,000 in 2011.
“So we’re about back to where we were in 2008, which is a good thing,” Leffel said. “I thank all the business leaders out there that do the good things they need to do to keep their businesses going.”
That money then translates into the general fund, which comes from income tax money and state funds.
“My caution to the state officials is don’t forget about us little guys,” Leffel said. “We’re very, very important. We have great communities here.”
The village’s general fund for 2011 was $378,000.
“We’ve asked all our departments to take a hard look at what we spend (and) what we do,” Leffel said. “They’ve done a great job.”
There were no major projects in New Knoxville in 2011, although there was a lot of upkeep.
“We were pretty aggressive for about 10 years, so we kind of took a deep breath, didn’t know what the budgets would be and we did a lot of things to catch up (such as) clean up things, fix little things, work on stuff,” Leffel said.
Leffel said he expects 2012 to be much of the same type of upkeep work, with no major projects on the horizon.
Leffel mentioned that 2012 is the 175th anniversary of the founding of New Knoxville.
A timeline from 1836 to the present has been assembled by the village and will eventually be able to be found online at NewKnoxville.com.
“We’ve probably done more in (the past) 25 years than what we’ve done in the previous 75 years, so that’s a positive thing,” Leffel said.
Like the national economy, New Bremen Mayor Jeff Pape said the village’s economy dipped during the heights of the recession. However, he noted it is appearing to bounce back.
Pape said New Bremen’s economy was down 19 percent two years ago and down 1 percent last year. This year, however, New Bremen’s economy is up 19 percent.
Next, Pape discussed jobs, noting that Crown Equipment, Minster Machine and Midmark have all been looking for skilled workers.
As a result, the West Central Workforce Initiative has been organized to gather people from Rhodes State, Wright State, Tri Star, New Bremen schools, Crown and other organizations in order to find skilled workers.
In 2011, the Teton housing development project was completed. A key ditch project, performing underground work on Walnut Street and moving outdoor items into a new electrical building were some other projects that took place during 2011.
“We’re constantly on the look for new water wells,” Pape said. “With anything with business and/or communities, you need a good water source.”
In 2012, Pape said he hopes the village will change some zoning regulations so that more home-based businesses may be set up along Washington Street. Law firm Keith D. Weiner and Associates will also begin helping the village collect some delinquent taxes this year.
“It’s a win-win situation,” Pape said. “They get a percentage of the money if they get back those taxes, and it really doesn’t cost us anything.”