BY KAREN GERHARDINGER | MIRROR REPORTER — Citizens are happy with the excellent service, the budget is balanced and employees are doing more with less, Mayor Don Atkinson told Whitehouse Village Council during his annual State of the Village address on January 3.
Atkinson read a list of compliments from residents about the holiday decorations, the well-cared-for public spaces and the helpful, hardworking employees.
“Everyone has stepped up to the plate and gotten the job done. I am proud and humbled to serve alongside these employees,” he said, noting that both the fire and police departments achieved statewide recognition, the administration earned excellent state audits and the excellence of the Public Works Department speaks for itself.
When he became mayor, Atkinson said his first three goals were to increase the yearly carryover balance, improve state audits and reduce spending. The carryover balance grew from $250,000 to $1.2 million and the state biennial audits were rated excellent, but by the end of 2023, that $1.2 million carryover will be reduced by $400,000 and will continue to decline in the years ahead unless new revenue streams are introduced.
“As mayor, I can attest that doing more with less is no longer an option,” he said, asking council to begin discussions about a ballot issue. This follows a year in which council voted to eliminate a .75-percent income tax credit to bring in $585,000 a year but a citizen’s referendum overturned that decision.
“We have not had a voted increase on our (1.5-percent) income tax going to our general fund in 50 years. The need for additional revenue is abundantly clear,” Atkinson said. “Let’s encourage each other by addressing our challenges in a positive, innovative way so we can protect the ambience that our village enjoys so much.”
Atkinson pointed out that interest in the village as a place to do business continues to be strong, noting that DEWESoft, owned by Anthony Wayne graduate Andrew Nowicki, has chosen to remain in White-house and triple its size with a building addition on Logan Street.
“Now is the time for us to come together and support a bright future for our village,” the mayor said.
Reports from department leaders showed some of the achievements of 2022:
• The fire department responded to 951 calls for service and Life Squad 9 responded to 728 calls. Five part-time employees were hired and one full-time employee was replaced. The employees dedicated 3,260 hours to continuing education.
• The fire department’s Nick Wismer, Dustin Richardson, Kyle Yaeger and Derek Francis received Safety Council Awards.
• Waterville Fire Chief Doug Meyer and White-house Fire Chief Josh Hartbarger received the Ohio Fire Chiefs’ Assoc-iation Innovation Award for the successful fire co-op between the three communities of Waterville, White-house and Waterville Township.
• All police officers completed Ohio Peace Officers Training Academy training and all requirements for the Ohio Collaborative Com-munity-Police Advisory Board, as well as department- and village-specific training.
• Cpl. Charles Kessinger completed the Ohio Association of Chiefs of Police supervisor training and education program, and three officers completed a First Line Supervisor Preparatory Course. Two officers were certified as Ohio crime prevention specialists and two completed the Lucas County Crisis Intervention Training.
• Whitehouse police and fire joined with other area safety services to complete several Rescue Task Force trainings.
• The police offered community engagement courses on firearms safety, Keeping Our Girls Safe and Hidden in Plain Sight.
• Chief Mark Mc-Donough received the OACP Michael J. Kelley Excellence and Innovation in Law Enforcement Award while officer Ken Scheuer-man and Sgt. Brad Baker received a commendation from the National Chiefs of Police Association for their actions at a fire scene in 2021.
The Public Works Department completed several projects in 2022, including the Wabash Cannonball interceptor sewer replacement, resurfacing Industrial Parkway and Weckerly Road, a storm water drainage system at Sandra Park and the final phase of downtown streetscaping.
Crews also refurbished the Cherry Fest building, began work on the park shelter house, planted 50 new trees, installed a sidewalk extension on Texas Street and installed a new sound system in the pavilion. Staff also assisted in the construction of the arbor, pavers and outdoor fireplace in the downtown park.
Administrative staff hosted several events in 2022, including summer concerts, Founder’s Day fireworks, a Halloween event, a tree-lighting and a holiday decorating contest.