Council lists top 5 for 2005

Jessica Rothschuh

Hiring a new city manager was one of the top events for the city of Kent this year, according to several Kent City Council members, local government officials and area residents.

When asked to discuss this year’s top issues and events, many sources identified five main topics. They include:

  1. Hiring Dave Ruller as the new city manager
  2. Kent’s fiscal concerns and budgetary problems
  3. The Right Dimensions downtown development project
  4. The Kent Dam project
  5. The paving of state Route 43 and state Route 59

1. “Certainly, I think the most noteworthy thing was the city’s hiring a new city manager,” said Bill Lillich, director of Kent’s Public Safety Department.

The new city manager, Dave Ruller, will bring fresh ideas and a new perspective to Kent, Lillich said.

Councilman Ed Bargerstock echoed Lillich’s thoughts.

“(Ruller) is the CEO of the city,” Bargerstock said. “The most important thing we could have done is pick a good one.”

Kent City Council appointed Ruller by a majority vote for an indefinite term to administer the policy the council sets, according to the Kent City Charter.

City Manager Dave Ruller could not be reached in time to contribute to this article.


2. Kent’s budget and other financial concerns have constituted much of the talk at recent council meetings. In his 2005 financial report, Ruller stressed the need for Kent to deal with its deficit.

“Over the last five years, the city’s revenues have failed to keep pace with expense growth and, despite expense management efforts, the gap between revenues and expenses has increased each year,” Ruller wrote.

In the last half-decade, the city has delayed the impact of an unbalanced budget by improving efficiency and deferring projects, he wrote.

“But without an infusion of new revenue, or a cut in services, the structural deficit will force the city to dip into its reserve fund balance for the third straight year in order to balance the books,” Ruller wrote.

Bargerstock said he voted against the Council’s budget proposal again this year because it didn’t match the tax revenue the city would take in.

“You live with the revenues that tax payers give you,” Bargerstock said. “It’s that simple.”

When asked what services should be cut in order to deliver a balanced budget, however, he had no suggestions.

“I don’t propose to cut anything,” Bargerstock said. “That’s the city manager’s job.”

Bill Anderson, Kent resident for over a decade and a past Council candidate, said the city is hurt by having no one on Council who is a finance expert.

“You don’t fix (fiscal problems) by opening mom-and-pop shops downtown,” Anderson said. “You have to have industry; you have to have jobs.”


3. Right Dimensions, a Southern California-based real estate acquisition company, has proposed a development project for downtown Kent that would create a block of retail stores, condominiums and parking called Kent Village.

Several city officials expressed excitement over this proposal, which may be the revitalization Kent needs to draw new revenue sources to the city.


4. The Kent and Monroe Falls dams were modified as part of the Cuyahoga River Restoration Project, finished in May 2005. The project modified the two dams to increase water flow and fish passage, thereby creating a cleaner Cuyahoga River and eliminating the need for multimillion-dollar improvements to municipal wastewater treatment plants.

In addition to restructuring the Kent Dam, the project also created Heritage Park.

“It give us a clean bill of health on the water and the river,” said Councilman Wayne Wilson.


5. Paving and repair work was conducted during the summer on state routes 43 and 59.

The Ohio Department of Transportation and the city spent $1 million on the project.


City officials mentioned several other issues impacting Kent this year. Resulting from budget constraints, vacant positions in the police department have not been filled, and plans to create three new firefighter/EMS positions have been put off, Lillich said.

“It makes it even more difficult for us to meet the needs of the community,” Lillich said. “That causes some consternation for us in providing the level of service we would like to afford for the community.”

The feasibility of a multimodal facility with a 500-car parking garage at the intersection of Lincoln and Summit streets was also mentioned.

Councilwoman Beth Oswitch said President Carol Cartwright’s retirement announcement and the rebuilding of the Kent Free Library were also important issues this year.

Contact public affairs reporter Jessica Rothschuh at [email protected].