In order for any community to prosper, it must have growth. To have growth the community must have good infrastructure, such as roads, water, sewer and other utilities. It must have a good school system and room to grow with the community. It must have a safe and healthy environment for its residents. It must be able to attract business to the community by having the previously mentioned requirements. It is my philosophy if the community grows then the tax base grows without raising taxes; I am opposed to increasing taxes, contrary to the rumors that were spread during the last election.
Beverly is fortunate to have a good school system thanks to the hard work of the administrators, teachers and involvement of the parents. The students that graduate from Fort Frye and Waterford need job opportunities after graduation. AEP announced they will be closing the power plants in 2014 and 15; this can be viewed as a problem or an opportunity. This is an opportunity for the community leaders to come together and work with AEP and the state of Ohio to develop the land that AEP vacates to create an Industrial Park. This would create many quality jobs that would allow our children and grandchildren to find good employment in the area.
The village of Beverly is now addressing its neglected infrastructure needs. The Board of Public affairs has worked hard the last four years to update some of the 76-year-old water lines, (the useful life of the lines is 50 years). The hard work was finished this year with the installation of about 2.5 miles of water lines the original project cost estimate was $1.8 million and final construction cost of about $1.41 million and came in under the awarded bid by $61,000. The hard work starts again with planning for the next phase of the project.
We were able to get a grant to acquire two generators for the water system so that if we have an extended outage we will be able to pump water for the residents and have adequate pressure for fires should the need arise. We are currently working on a grant to update the sewer treatment plant to meet EPA requirements.
We were able to get a Safe Route to School (SRTS) grant for Ullman St. last year and were installed this year. We got another SRTS grant for Park Street, Cemetery Street, and Fifth Street to be installed this year.
We were able to obtain two grants for replacement of sidewalks on Fifth street this year. Those grants replaced some of the sidewalks that were in need of repair. This will help the residents that like to walk have safer sidewalks and the handicapped better access to the post office and shopping area.
There have been several new businesses that have moved into Beverly in the last couple of years that have provided employment opportunities. There are others that are looking to move to Beverly this year. We need to continue to improve our infrastructure to support the growth.
We were able to get the Spring Hills addition upgraded so that it could be accepted into the village and quality homes could be built in the subdivision. There were new lift stations and pump station installed according to EPA and capacity requirements for future growth of the subdivision and many other minor improvements made. This provides Beverly with a desirable area to grow its population and its tax base in a positive way. As the oil exploration and production grows it will provide a desirable place for homes.
The village explores ways to save money for the residents and one way we have saved money was on the electric bill. We installed more energy efficient lights and took advantage of the AEP rebate program. We went with an alternate electric supplier and as a result we save $10,000 to $12,000 a year in electric cost.
The village finances are in good shape and the general fund had an increase of the carryover balance this year of $82,353. The previous administration had three years that had an ever increasing deficit spending in the general fund starting in 2008 of a negative $33,000 and progressed to a deficit of $70,000 in 2010. In 2013, we able to eliminate the deficit spending and increase the working capital of the village general fund.
The cash on hand on Jan. 1, 2012 when I took office was $999,737.98 and we closed 2013 with a balance of $1,271,865 an increase of $272,128. This was accomplished in addition to the many projects that were completed plus equipping and rebuilding the police force.
It is important for the village residents that we have a strong police force. We saw the results of having an under staffed police force in the beginning of 2012 with break-ins at many of the businesses in the village. Those have all been solved by the Beverly police department and other law enforcement agencies. There continues to be a need for constant vigilance as drugs and thefts to support the drug habit continues to be present.
It is the responsibility as defined by the Ohio Revised Code that village officials enforce the laws of the state. This means all laws are to be obeyed by all residents and businesses. It is not acceptable for residents or businesses to allow unlawful activities to occur in the residence or business.
The next few years will be a challenge to accommodate the growth that may occur due to the oil and gas exploration in the area. There will be transient workers that need accommodations and some permanent jobs for qualified local workers. This will generate revenue for the local businesses and some new businesses will move into town. These changes will affect all of us so the residents need to get involved in the village government as the village conducts the citizens business.
Rex O. Kenyon is mayor of Beverly.