Despite Recession, Avon's Income on the Rise
Mayor: city in the right place at the right time
Driving around Avon, the question begs to be asked: What recession?
Income tax collections have boomed since 1996. City officials expect the increase to continue into the future, albeit at a slower rate.
“In 2008, I thought we were going to have a big slow down as far as our income tax (collection),” Mayor Jim Smith said. “If we’d have just broken even I’d been dancing around, but we went up 5 percent.”
The city has a 1 percent general income tax paid by people who work in Avon. In addition, residents — whether or not they work within city limits — also pay a 0.5 percent safety forces and a 0.25 percent parks and recreation income tax.
Total revenues from all three income taxes for the past four years were:
- $8.8 million in 2008,
- $9.3 million in 2009,
- $9.6 million in 2010 and
- $10.2 million in 2011.
Through June 2012, the city has collected $5.9 million, about 4 percent more than budgeted. City officials are predicting the city will collect around $11 million by year’s end.
Much of the increase in the past four years can be attributed to construction for large projects, including the Cleveland Clinic Richard E. Jacobs Health Center, All Pro Freight Stadium, French Creek YMCA and new Interstate-90 exit — not to mention the new U.S. Post Office and police and fire stations.
“Our income tax has grown each year I think primarily because it’s such a diversified commercial base,” Finance Director Bill Logan said. “We’re not dependent on one or two large companies. Some companies will have down years, up years and so forth but we’ve been pretty fortunate. And really, on top of that, most of the companies in Avon aren’t reliant on any particular industry.”
Planning coordinator Jim Piazza is seeing more building permits come through the office from existing business expansion (Walmart Supercenter conversion and Two Bucks enclosed patio) and new business construction (Firment Chevrolet, Joyce Buick, Salvation Army and the Avon Crossing strip mall). Home construction has also picked up again after a slight halt in 2009 and 2010.
Right time, right place
All this has happened while the population has increased 87 percent to 21,193 in 2010 from 11,353 in 2000, according to the census.
That’s critical, Smith said, because businesses follow people. Businesses move for new development, open spaces and conveniences such as an excellent rated school district and conveniences, like not having to drive to Crocker Park to get a caramel macchiato fix.
Logan is forecasting a 3 percent increase in income tax revenue next year, good news for the city as income taxes make up the majority of the general operating fund.
The more money the city collects, the more officials have to invest in city infrastructure and services such as road repairs, new traffic lights, 18 acres of adjoining land to expand Schwartz Road Park and possibly an outdoor water park and new city hall.
That’s a sharp contrast for longtime residents like Smith and Piazza. They talk about when Avon used to be farmland, how the city once shut down a road because there was no money, and how the city once jerry-rigged sewer lines so a business could move into town.
“We just happened to be at the right place at the right time in history,” Smith said. “We’re the first place out of Cuyahoga County. Westlake is pretty full up except for a few businesses there, and Avon has attractive land, an attractive location.
“You were hoping for more industrial, more commercial, office. All you could do is hope it all came. Nobody had any idea that it would be this much, but here it is. You look at Westlake and say ‘This is what we’re going to be.’ We thought we were 25 years behind in as far as commercial / industrial development, and we’re closer to 10 to 15.”
“We’re ready for whatever comes,” Piazza said, adding the city now has all the utilities in place.
Editor’s Note: In this series, Patch gauges the recovery of 18 Ohio communities based on income tax receipts since the Great Recession. Read about those communities here.