By Kevin Kelley
At her annual state of the city address to the Fairview Park Chamber of Commerce March 12, Mayor Eileen Patton paid tribute to two city leaders who will retire in the coming months.
Saying she believes that the fates of the schools and city are intertwined, Patton said she and Fairview Park City Schools Superintendent Brion Deitsch have supported each other’s efforts since Deitsch came to the district in 2005.
“Brion and I teamed up to make this the best city and best school district possible,” the mayor said.
“You will be missed, but you will always be remembered for your commitment to the students of this community,” Patton said to Deitsch, who will retire July 31. “You gave them opportunity, you gave them technology and you shared your love of education with them. And that is a gift that will last a lifetime.”
The school district’s Board of Education is in the midst of a process to select a new superintendent.
The mayor also saluted the outgoing fire chief, Bud Williams, who will retire this spring.
“It has been an honor to work side by side with the chief, and he will truly be missed by all,” Patton said. “After 31 years of service to the residents of our fine city, we are all very sad to see him go and we all wish him good times ahead.”
Capt. Tony Raffin scored highest on the civil service exam for fire chief and will succeed Williams.
Patton also noted that the fire department had its busiest year ever in terms of call volume. The total of 1,917 calls in 2013 were 220 more than the previous year. These included more than 1,500 medical-related calls and 126 fire-related calls, including five for significant fires.
The city’s recreation center, opened six years ago, collected $86,000 more in revenue last year than in 2012, Patton reported.
Patton said her administration’s philosophy consists of investing conservatively, improving municipal finances and creating reserves for future projects and unexpected expenditures.
“We recognize as the economy is slowly recovering, we must still continue to weigh each and every expenditure carefully,” the mayor said. “I personally believe in creating reserves as these actions will keep us on the positive side if an unexpected expenditure arrives.”
The Patton administration has long pursued grants to supplement tax revenue, and the mayor recounted several grants the city’s departments successfully applied for recently.
Patton also said the city has been working with the city of Cleveland to obtain easement so electric lines can be connected to the former NASA buildings on Brookpark Road. Securing a permanent tenant – and a source of property and income tax revenue – in those two now-vacant buildings has long been a goal of city officials.
“Realizing the importance of these buildings, we will continue to be ‘hands-on’ involved in this project, and we remain optimistic new tenants will be in one or both of these buildings this year,” Patton said.