MOUNT VERNON — As budgetary concerns are being raised on all levels of government, Mount Vernon Mayor Richard Mavis said the city is in pretty good fiscal shape heading into the second half of 2009.
The city has been able to use money saved from previous budgets, as well as federal and state grants and loans, to accomplish some of the projects being worked on recently. Plus, he said, a conservative approach by department heads has helped keep the city afloat in this time of economic downturn.
“We’ve met with our people, and as we get into the second half of the year, with things we don’t really need as much, we’re taking a conservative approach,” Mavis said. “Overall in the budget, everybody’s doing very well. Fortunately, we’re not in the same predicament the state is.”
Mavis is hoping that conservative approach continues to serve the city well as 2010 approaches.
“We’re looking hard at next year. Clearly, a downturn in the economy affects next year’s projects. Fortunately, we were able to get money last year to do the projects, but it looks like next year our approach will have to be different,” Mavis said.
Despite the downturn in the economy, Mavis said they would still attempt to get some projects completed next year, including the wastewater treatment project.
“In the next six months, we’ve got to figure out how to fund those projects — what’s the best way to utilize our funds,” he said.
Projects that are currently going on in the city are mostly on schedule, Mavis reported. He recently had his monthly meeting with Safety-Service Director Dave Glass, City Engineer Cameron Keaton and City Auditor Terry Scott to discuss the ongoing projects.
The Gay Street and Wooster Road/Vernonview Drive projects appear to be ahead of schedule at the moment. Workers are pouring curbing and sidewalks along the east side of Gay Street, and will soon be working on the road base in preparation for laying the asphalt. Individual houses have been connected to the new water line on Wooster Road and the lines are almost complete on the Vernonview section. The state required the city bore under the roadway on Vernonview Drive when moving from one side of the road to the other with the line, adding some extra cost to the project.
The Plaza Building project is the only one that is a little bit behind schedule. The resurfacing of the parking garage floors is going well, with the top floor expected to be finished in early July, but the parapet walls are a bit behind schedule. Mavis said the parking garage will have a black surface and new lines painted on it.
The city will be looking at alternatives for this year’s brick street construction project, as the Oak Street project added a second block and its cost would far surpass the $170,000 City Council appropriated for it. Mavis said they are looking at putting in new curbs on sections of McArthur and McKenzie streets instead. The new curbs would keep the bricks from sliding and creating problems for drivers.
Mavis said the contracts have been signed and the contractor has the proper permits to demolish the old Connell’s building on South Sandusky Street. Because the street will need to be closed for a day or two when the front of the building is torn down, Mavis said the city is attempting to coordinate the demolition with the Gay Street project.
In other news:
•The city is selling old parking meters for $10 and the old, red ticket boxes for $5 for anyone wanting a piece of Mount Vernon history. The meters and boxes, which have no keys but are unlocked, are available at City Hall.
•Mavis said the city will meet with representatives of ODOT the first of August to discuss when public meetings will be held on the Coshocton Avenue widening project.
•Lowe’s is reviewing the city’s plans on the proposed connector road between Coshocton Avenue and Yauger Road. The road would go through a corner of Lowe’s property.
•The bid has been awarded for the construction of the Foundation Park restroom. The city received a contribution of $12,000 from Kiwanis Club for the pavilion, which will be a part of the $162,000 project.
•Mavis said he has received some questions about adding a second lane of traffic around the square. After discussing it with Keaton, they have determined that it would be difficult to make it work properly as long as traffic was allowed to park on the inside of the square.
•The city will be restriping the crosswalk on West High Street in the next few weeks.