Positives outweighed negatives in 2015

By Scott Halasz

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XENIA — The City of Xenia saw highs and lows during 2015. But as City Manager Brent Merriman prepares to lead the city into 2016, he is optimistic the city will have more ups than downs in the future.

“We are doing some things that indicate we are on the right track,” Merriman said during a state of the city chat with the Gazette. “As you look at a lot of the programs and activity in our community you saw a more active year. We’ve been doing a lot more.”

In addition to the monthly First Fridays during the summer, the city had fireworks for the first time in years, bringing a sense of pride back to Xenia.

Xenia broke ground on the facilities project that, when completed, will result in a new city administration building. The current city hall will be renovated to allow the police department to expand its cramped operation out of the basement. The city is continuing its commitment to fixing the streets and has allocated money to upgrade its parks including the addition of a splash pad at Xenia Station and disc golf course at Sol Arnovitz Park.

“We’re seeing a lot of very positive momentum on a lot of fronts,” Merriman said.

There were a few negatives, or as Merriman said, “hurdles” in 2015. The proposed family entertainment center and movie theater project at Towne Square led to an inquiry of a pair of councilmen and some heated city council meetings. The entertainment center is still in the works.

“It was unfortunate,” Merriman said of the inquiry. “It was very troubling and trying. (But) as a community we’re stronger on the back side.”

Looking forward to 2016 Merriman knows balancing the budget will be the No. 1 priority. A $1 million cash flow deficit has been forecasted as cuts from the state in local government funding and estate tax and a decreasing tax base affect revenue.

“We have to deal with the budget situation,” Merriman said.

He said city expenditures are in line with prior years and stressed that the cash flow shortage is not because of poor decisions by city council or the city itself. The key will be reducing expenditures even more if possible, Merriman said.

However he said at previous council meetings that personnel cuts could be necessary as well.

“There are some challenges that we face,” Merriman said.

There are a couple of big projects on the horizon, he added, that could help the revenue situation.

It has been rumored but not confirmed that a new hotel could be coming to Xenia. And the aforementioned entertainment center could be operational as early as next fall, sparking more long-term development in Towne Square.

“We want quality, mixed retail use,” Merriman said. “We want it to be sustainable.”

Contact Scott Halasz at 937-502-4507.

Contact Scott Halasz at 937-502-4507.