Our view: Kent development still a worthwhile investment

DKS Editors

With a proposed budget described by City Manager Dave Ruller as “pretty much more of less than ever before,” it’s clear the troubled economy’s umbrella has extended far over Kent.

For 2013, city council projects a $1 million budget deficit — bringing the total deficit to $4.38 million. Kent Patch reports the city will likely have to dip into its undesignated funds to compensate for the deficit, shrinking the city’s already depleted reserve money, which dwindled from $12.7 million to $7.3 million in just four years.

Kent is running out of money, and Ruller is right to call 2013’s budget “frustrating.”

But even under such grim circumstances, Kent continues to be a rare case of developmental prosperity in the wake of what was the worst economic recession since the Great Depression.

A little more than one week ago, the Ohio Economic Development Association awarded Kent downtown developers for the best project in the state in 2012, calling the $100 million project a “catalyst” for change.

And a catalyst it has been: More than 900 construction jobs and an eventual 700 permanent jobs originated with the project, and, after years of stagnant numbers, income tax figures are up almost 6 percent from May. In addition, the city is projecting $11.4 million in revenue for 2013 — about $500,000 more than originally expected.

The downtown development is more than just new restaurants and buildings to modernize Kent — the city’s growth in an economic collapse has proved to be a lifeline. Although we’re not out of the water yet, the deficit is less than expected, and our city has almost become synonymous with growth.

As Ruller put it, “The financial plan is working, but the hole got deeper.” That may be true, but it’s evident that Kent is on the right path to success.

The above editorial is the consensus opinion of the Daily Kent Stater editorial board.