About eighty people gathered at Carrie Cerino’s Ristorante on Wednesday, March 16, for the North Royalton annual State of the City Address, sponsored by the North Royalton Chamber of Commerce.
“I’d like to begin this year’s State of the City as I’ve done in years past, with the status of our cities overall financial picture,” began Mayor Bob Stefanik. He indicated that city income tax receipts have rebounded from 2009/2010 levels, but the deep cuts initiated by the state have not been restored. “ In Columbus and on the campaign trail throughout the United States we hear about the economic rebound in the State of Ohio since the great recession. What is left out of that discussion is the fact that the massive cuts in the local government funding were one of the primary reasons Columbus was able to balance their budget and end up with record surplus dollars. Cuyahoga County Mayors and Managers Association, along with the Northeast Ohio Mayors and Managers Association, continue to try to educate our State Representatives and Senators the need to restore at least a partial amount of the cutbacks. In local newspapers throughout Ohio you will read the disturbing news that many municipalities have had to go back to the voters to increase taxes or adjust the local income tax credit due to the severe cuts in the local government funding. State Senators and Representatives are busy patting themselves on the back for solving the State’s budget crisis, but in reality they are breaking the financial backs of every City, Township, Village and School District in the State of Ohio.”
Stefanik said that since 2008, over $10.5 million in grants and funding has been procured to fix the city’s infrastructure, as well as municipal buildings, purchase equipment and tackle storm water issues. “ We have leveraged the road grant monies to help us complete over 18 million dollars worth of road projects.” In addition, over $522,000 in interest has been saved when millions of dollars of debt were refinanced. “I am also proud to say that North Royalton property taxes are now the fifth lowest property taxes in all of Cuyahoga County.”
Last year, the city saw 25 new housing starts and that number is expected to be met or exceeded this year. Although down compared to previous years, North Royalton continues to be one of the fastest growing communities in the county. He noted that with a changing demographic, the housing that is sought after is not the same as in the past. “Gross Builders continues to make progress on the development of their age restricted, upscale rental facility on Route 82 and York Road. We receive many requests about mixed use housing and senior housing. In order for our community to remain vibrant, we need to have housing that meets every need from young families to aging adults.”
Three new structures have been completed in the Town Center District recently. Two are office buildings and the third is a retail building on Rt. 82 where a Sherwin Williams store will be located. “We anticipate in 2016 that more of the former residential area will be redeveloped in the TCD,” said Stefanik. Three industrial buildings were also constructed last year, as well as an office warehouse. “This year, we anticipate that at least three more industrial/commercial buildings will be built.
“In the coming year we hope to re-market the city in a few specific ways. One is an effort to differentiate North Royalton from other cities. North Royalton is the third largest city by area in Cuyahoga County, with the southern half retaining a significant amount of agricultural and farm land. It retains a rural feel for our residents. These farms are part of a growing trend of bringing organic farming methods to urban areas,” said Stefanik. “Secondly, we do not believe the city’s growth and size has been recognized by retailers and we are stepping up our efforts to have retailers respond to our growing population.” To that end, an Available Property Listings section has been added to the city’s website.
Stefanik then outlined the composition of the city’s Safety Forces, including the Police Department, Fire Department and the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT).
“ Over the past few years we have seen an increase in the number of properties that have fallen into disrepair due to the lack of maintenance,” said Stefanik. Every neighborhood will be aggressively canvassed to immediately address property violations, and safety issues. “While our goal is to have the deficiency corrected in a timely manner, we will, if necessary, immediately cite the property owner into court.” A Rental Registry for those who rent homes or condominiums will also be established. “Every property owner in North Royalton needs to understand that they own their property all the way to the curb or street, and it is their responsibility to maintain that area at all times. Neighborhood blight will grow like a cancer unless it is confronted quickly and decisively, and that’s what we intend to do.” He added that it is understood that not all homeowners have the financial ability to afford some maintenance issues. For those individuals, the city’s Aging and Human Services Department can assist by guiding them to organizations that can provide assistance.
Stefanik talked about the recent acquisition of a new senior bus, funded 80% by the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT). The Service Department received the last of four single axle dump trucks that will replace an aging fleet, as well as a pick-up/dump truck for the city’s Recreation and Cemetery Department. “In the past five years we have systematically replaced our old, aging fleet of service vehicles with new, more efficient models.”
“The final phase of our major storm water projects should begin later this year, provided the Army Corps of Engineers grant our permit in a timely manner,” said Stefanik. “The Cedarwood retention basin in the northwestern section of North Royalton is the last of our major storm water projects to take place. Moving forward, the City of North Royalton will be working closely with the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District as they roll out their storm water utility program. Our goal in North Royalton is to apply for projects in cooperation with our surrounding communities to address the larger regional storm water issues that affect our cities. We have seen diminished capacity in the larger rivers and streams that run through North Royalton due to erosion and sediment build-up. The Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District Storm water Utility’s goal is to tackle those larger projects that are spread across several of our communities that include over 20 miles of rivers and streams in North Royalton alone,” said Stefanik.
As the Storm Water and Sanitary Department already work closely together, this year the two departments will merge into one division. “Our goal is to streamline this operation and make it more efficient, while we continue to provide storm water and sanitary sewer service at the high levels our citizens have come to expect,” said Stefanik.
“We cannot and we will not become complacent,” Stefanik concluded. “We will continue to streamline our operations when possible and explore additional cost saving measures when the opportunities arise. We will also continue to work closely with our neighboring cities and regional partners in an effort to provide our residents with the most cost-effective services as possible. You can count on that!”

Contributing Writer