Twinsburg -- Touting the 245 new jobs created in 2012 and the back-to-back championships of the Lady Tigers, Mayor Katherine Procop walked through the current affairs of Twinsburg Feb. 14 during an optimistic 2013 State of the City Address.
Hosted by the Twinsburg Chamber of Commerce at the Hilton Garden Inn at 8971 Wilcox Dr., the address was sponsored by the Edward Jones investment firm and highlighted the high and low points the city experienced in the past year, from the more than $5 million in grant money received to assist with cleanup of the former Chrysler Stamping Plant site (now Cornerstone Business Park) to the white-nose fungus that is threatening the bat population in Liberty Park.
"We are steadily progressing toward recovery," Procop said Feb. 19 of the city's progress following the loss of the Chrysler Stamping Plant in 2009.
One strong point of 2012, Procop said Feb. 14 during her roughly hour-long remarks, was the influx of new businesses, including the Lianda Corp., GO2 Marketing, Cleveland Metal Exchange and several others. Procop said 245 jobs were created in Twinsburg in 2012.
Procop also acknowledged the addition of Panera Bread, Panini's and other newly established restaurants in the area.
"I am excited to welcome several new restaurants here in town," Procop said. "One of the area's great independent restaurants is Blue Canyon Kitchen and Tavern. Last year, they were a 2012 Silver Spoon award winner."
One low point the city faced in 2012 was overpayment during the year's income tax collections, Procop said Feb. 19. Several businesses collectively overpaid more than a $2 million during collections.
"Our revenue was $23 million, but due to overpayment in net profits from several different companies, we will have to, this year, refund over $2 million," Procop said. "So although it looked like we had a big income tax revenue increase, we really did not because we will have to refund the overpayments."
Procop recapped the city's financial situation in 2012, saying the 2.25 percent income tax rate produced $23.1 million in collections and provided 86 percent of the city's general fund operating budget. This marked a 16 percent increase over collections in 2011. Without the quarter-percent increase passed in 2009, the collections for 2012 would have totaled around $19.9 million, Procop said.
Procop said Feb. 19 that the city "can manage at this point" if the .25 percent income tax increase is repealed in November.
"The city could at this point repeal the income tax [increase]," Procop said. "It will take us back to a level where we were at before the loss of Chrysler. We will lose the opportunity for further growth in our reserves, but we can certainly continue providing services. We can manage at this point."
Procop highlighted the work of the Twinsburg Fire Department in 2012, pointing out the 2,203 calls for service answered by the department and the 1,392 fire inspections carried out by the Fire Prevention Bureau.
The retirements of three Twinsburg police officers in 2012 were also recognized during the approximately 90 minute speech, including Officer Chuck Clapper, Sgt. Marc Eleo and Sgt. Jim Tobak.
Procop also welcomed two new officers, Dan Celis and Jim Swope, and congratulated two recently promoted sergeants on their advancements.
"[Sgt.] Tom Mason was sworn in on Jan. 10 and [Sgt.] Tom Austin was sworn in a few months ago on Dec. 12," Procop said. "Congratulations to both 'Toms' on their promotions. I know that both of them have great leadership abilities ... I've worked with them, and I know that their teams are really enjoying working with them also."
The presentation wasn't all business, however, as Procop spoke of the successes of the 2012 Rock the Park concert series, which included renowned Cleveland folk/rock artists Michael Stanley and his band, The Resonators.
"The Rock The Park concert series brought seven amazing concerts to the Perici Amphitheater," Procop said. "The season ended in September with a great performance by the Michael Stanley Band. We were just delighted to have Michael Stanley here in our city last year. More than 4,500 concert-goers rocked the park last summer."
Gains made by young Twinsburg athletes were also among the mayor's praises for the city.
"The Lady Tigers basketball team became state champs for the second time [in 2012]," Procop said. "I was able to see their last game of the season [Feb. 13] and they have a record, I believe, of 25-0. So they're going to be tough to beat down at state and we're hoping again that they bring home the championship."
Procop thanked many of her cabinet officials for their hard work, as well, as city engineer Amy Mohr oversaw several capital improvement projects totaling more than $1.5 million in 2012, including the Interstate 480 underpass improvement and Chamberlin Road resurfacing. Human Resources Director Clayton Morris was also recognized for his efforts.
"Clay was nominated for the Crain's [Cleveland Business] Archer Award for Human Resource Executive of the year," Procop said. "That's quite a prestigious nomination."
"Great people and great organizations add to a great city," Procop said in closing her speech.
Before the speech, Chamber members mingled and speculated on the upcoming report from the mayor. Judy Lanier, retail store manager for Goodwill Industries of Akron, said she hoped for good news regarding economic growth in Twinsburg.
"We're hoping for good news because the store next to us is empty," Lanier said of a neighboring Ravenna Road location in the city. "We're hoping to hear of more growth in the area."
Following the presentation, Councilman Ted Yates said the rhetoric painted an appropriately positive view of the city in the past year.
"The city has been doing well throughout the end of 2011 and 2012," Yates said. "There's dedication to the job, we've got a lot of great employees in our administration. There wasn't much bad to report ... it was more of a highlight of what a fantastic place this is to live in. Twinsburg's a lot about quality of life."
Twinsburg City Schools Superintendent Kathryn Powers said she appreciated the broad scope of the speech.
"She's very inclusive and it's so nice that she pays such care and attention to the town, that's really what it's all about," Powers said. "We have a great partnership with the city and they're very interested in the schools and they do what they can to support us and we appreciate that. So, with an event like this, we want to come out and support the mayor too."
Editor's note: For video coverage of the State of the City Address, visit www.twinsburgbulletin.com