Aurora's mayor touts fiscal health, schools, police levy need

by Mike Lesko | reporter Published:

by MIKE LESKO | REPORTER

Aurora -- Mayor James Fisher, giving his first "State of the City" address, told the audience at last week's Chamber of Commerce luncheon that the schools and city's financial health are strong.

Aurora has a topnotch school district, is financially strong and has a growing population, Fisher said, adding, "The fiscal health of the city is strong."

Fisher said the city has about $7.5 million in reserve for emergency situations, and has a top financial rating, which "gives us the kudos we need when we want to initiate bonds for big projects."

Fisher mentioned the city's new website is in operation at www.auroraoh.com, adding "It will add significant value to a wide range of users. This site will get better with each passing month."

Fisher also stressed the importance of the city recently hiring Jack Burge as its first economic development director, a part-time position.

"Aurora is a place to be -- a destination for new businesses," Fisher said. "We'll get the message out that we're business friendly. Economic development is another great resource for the business community. We have structured a program that is well-defined.

"The planning-zoning-building department is one of the best resources for the business community," he added.

Fisher also stressed the importance of voters approving a 1.2-mill police levy on the May primary election ballot.

"It's critical that we get the levy passed," Fisher told 87 attendees at the Bertram Inn. "Satisfying the safety needs of the residents is key. We need more police officers, obviously. Law enforcement officers' needs are being outpaced [by the growth of the city.] This will ensure that safety will not be compromised."

FISHER SAID the fire department has a levy in place that allows it to operate without any disruption, and the passage of the police levy on May 7 would do the same thing for the police department.

Fisher has said the police levy would generate $650,000 to $700,000 annually, and would cost the owner of a $100,000 home an additional $33 to $36 a year.

The levy, which would be for five years, would support the hiring of two additional patrol officers, one detective and an additional school resource officer, Fisher said, as well as "the technology support that improves the effectiveness of our officers."

The city currently has 26 full-time police officers, Fisher said.

Meanwhile, Superintendent Russ Bennett, the other main speaker at the "State of the City" event, said the school district is in the top 2 percent among 613 districts in the state, while the high school is ranked in the top 1 percent nationally. He said that is "a tribute to the community and its families. We appreciate the community putting the schools in the forefront."

Bennett said the school system is "one of the reasons families come to Aurora."

"The schools are on top of the heap," Bennett said. "We want them to stay there. A collaborative effort [between the city and schools] is why this works. The students' success is due to the efforts of the school staff and community.

"We want the students to become productive citizens," Bennett added. "That is the mission of the schools. The community has always stepped up. We have great leadership by the Board of Education."

The luncheon sponsor for the event was Aurora Manor Skilled Nursing and Rehabilitation.

Email: mlesko@recordpub.com

Phone: 330-541-9400 ext. 4187

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