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Streetscape, Highway 1 turn lanes in new city budget

SOLON– Obscured by the smoldering of a looming expanded burn ban, the city of Solon has adopted its budget for the upcoming year.
Two long-awaited projects– a Main Street streetscape project and the reconfiguration of Highway 1’s intersection with 5th Street– are included in the $4.1 million fiscal blueprint for 2012-2013.
The Solon City Council held its public hearing and adopted the budget at its March 7 meeting.
The tax impact of the new budget will be minimal, with the city’s overall levy decreasing slightly from the current $10.71202 per $1,000 assessed valuation to $10.71190.
But property owners may see their tax bills increase slightly because of an adjustment to the residential rollback.
The residential rollback, a property tax limitation measure established by the state, will increase from 48.5299 percent for 2011-12 to 50.7518 percent for 2012-2013.
The rollback is applied to the assessed value of a property for taxing purposes. While 48.53 percent of a property’s assessed value would have been levied against during the current fiscal year, 50.75 percent of the value will be taxed in the year beginning July 1.
The total value of property inside the Solon city limits has also increased by 9.85 percent, and the city’s population grew substantially with the 2010 census, bringing larger than anticipated gains from some outside funding sources.
According to city administrator Cassandra Lippincott, census figures helped increased Solon’s allocation of road use tax funds from around $120,000 to $190,000, and the city’s share of local option sales tax revenue is expected to jump from about $140,000 to $214,000 for 2012-2013.
Which all adds up to additional revenue for the city budget.
The budget adopted March 7 lists $4.378 million in revenues against $4.168 million in expenditures. Property taxes will account for an estimated $791,820 of the overall budget, up from a re-estimated $707,289 for the current year.
But there was still a lot of trimming to be done to balance the budget over the course of the last several months.
Cut from the budget were a $60,000 sewer line project from Green Acres Drive to Highway 1, and several capital requests from the Solon Parks & Recreation Commission. The commission sought funding for a picnic shelter at the Solon Recreation and Nature Area (SRNA), additional storage space and a $10,000 set-aside for playground surface material.
Those items were not included in the budget, although Lippincott said $20,000 for additional trail work at the SRNA stayed in. The city started on the project last year, using millings to set the groundwork for a hard-surface path that would bisect the existing trail, providing handicapped access to recreational fields.
The largest capital improvement in the budget is expected to be the Main Street streetscape project. Four blocks of Main, from West Street to Cedar Street will undergo a facelift which includes widened sidewalks, an asphalt overlay, handicapped accessibility for business entrances and new street lighting. In addition, on-street parking will be reconfigured for diagonal parking.
Lippincott said she expected plans and specifications for the $945,000 project to be completed by late March or early April, with a bid award in spring and construction in summer.
The city will finance both the streetscape and the Highway 1 turn lane project through the issuance of bonds.
The Highway 1 turn lane project has been on the table for about five years. Council members began discussing the highway’s intersection with 5th Street as a result of the proposed construction of Bridge Community Bank back in 2008.
Early design work indicated an additional lane of traffic on the east side of the highway would be the least disruptive for construction. The intersection did not qualify for signalization at the time.
The turn lane project is expected to cost about $518,000.