Cleveland taxpayers may see a bump in their tax bill next year, but the increase would be smaller than last year’s levy growth.
On Sept. 7, the Cleveland City Council began discussion on a proposed preliminary budget to be approved later this month. The proposal would allocate $509,555 in the city budget for 2022, an increase over last year’s $468,025 budget.
A 3.7% bump in the tax levy in 2022 would support the expanded budget; this is a smaller increase compared to the 4.5% hike between 2020 and 2021.
A significant $45,000 portion of the preliminary budget is included to expedite street repairs in the city. The large sum for chip sealing and mill and road surfacing is a continuation of the $45,000 allocated in the 2021 budget, a near $20,000 jump in street spending over 2020 and $40,000 more than in 2019.
“Half of our city owned streets should be sealed this year, and the idea is to do the second half next year,” said City Administrator Dan Evans.
The city budget also expanded due to cost of living adjustments for staff. In a typical year, city wages would rise between 2.5-3% each year, but an above average uptick in living expenses led to a 4% wage increase for staff in the preliminary budget.
On top of those expenses, $18,000 was reserved in the budget to remodel the city hall bathroom. The budget proposal also reallocated $20,000 in pension funds away from the Fire Department and used the city’s general fund to finance firefighter pensions instead.
“It cleaned up the Fire Department budget as far as what a workable budget is,” said Evans. “So when we present to townships what the budget numbers are, it’s more realistic than having that 2% money within the Fire Department fund.”
The preliminary budget isn’t up for a vote until the City Council’s next meeting. After a preliminary budget is approved, a finalized budget will be up for a vote in December. The budget and levy increase may shrink between preliminary and final approval, but the city can’t raise those sums after passing a preliminary budget.
Mayor Don McCabe was content with the budget proposal and didn’t predict it would change significantly.
“I don’t anticipate any major changes,” said McCabe. “We had a good look at the line items and most of the council was pretty comfortable with where the numbers are and I’m pretty comfortable with it.”
Cherry Creek Days
Cleveland’s annual summer celebration may make a return next year. Over the past two years, Cherry Creek Days was cancelled amid uncertainty surrounding the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. The event’s two year hiatus may finally come to an end as the Cleveland City Council made plans to bring the festival back in 2022.
On Sept. 7, the council kicked off preparations with a plan to reconvene the Cherry Creek Day Committee from last year. Event planning is expected to start in the next few weeks.
One question still lingering on the council’s mind is when to hold the celebration. The festival is typically held in June, much earlier than community celebrations in neighboring cities. That early date prompted the council to cancel this year’s Cherry Creek Days back in February while other communities could wait until spring before cementing plans.
Due to the widespread availability of vaccines, McCabe was optimistic that Cherry Creek Days would make its return next year.
“I’m pretty confident now that vaccines are out pretty widely and being distributed,” said McCabe.