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City leaders battle economic troubles

With the financial crisis affecting communities across the country, Bowling Green city leaders took the next step in preparing for the future by talking about their upcoming plans to battle the economy during the annual State of the City address.

Held in the Wood County Public Library, the address was presented by Mayor John Quinn, Utilities Director Kevin Maynard, Public Works Director Brian Craft, Finance Director Brian Bushong and Municipal Administrator John Fawcett.

‘The thing we’re all worried about today, the thing we go to bed with every night and wake up with every morning is the financial crisis,’ Quinn said as he began the address. ‘We’re going to be talking a lot about financial problems today.’

Although many different topics were proposed in reference to the crisis, Bowling Green’s budget became the focus for this year.

Fawcett said he became concerned with the budget after realizing there was a $1.6 million gap between what the city was receiving and what expenses were.

As a result, Fawcett said a number of expenditures will be reduced this year, including limiting part-time and seasonal employees, funding for expenditure training and funding for overtime.

And though nothing is finalized yet, Fawcett said the city may also have to consider redistributing income taxes or seeking a tax rate increase if the budget does not get balanced.

‘We have to keep an eye out for reducing expenditures,’ Fawcett said. ‘We will continue to study how it will impact citizens.’

Also taking center stage during the address was the upcoming renovation of North Main Street, which is scheduled to begin in 2011.

Craft said the construction was planned after the Ohio Department of Transportation named the city street as one of the top 200 hot spots in the state for accidents.

‘If you go out there on a Friday afternoon, you’re going to see a long line of cars,’ Craft said. ‘That’s one of the reasons there are so many side and rear angle collisions there.’

Renovation plans for North Main include a widened center road, new traffic signals, improved street lighting, new sidewalks and curbs and a new water and sewer line.

‘When the project is over, the flow of traffic will be greatly improved,’ Craft said.

For Bowling Green resident Steve Smith, 50, the expected improvements to North Main Street was one of the most pivotal issues discussed at the address.

Because of the number of accidents on the street, Smith said it is necessary to make changes for the betterment of the community.

‘The appearance of the city is important and the flow of traffic is important,’ he said. ‘I have problems with North Main the way it is now.’

And along with the improvements to the city streets, city administrators also focused on the new curbside recycling program during the address as a way to clean up the community.

With over 5,100 containers having been handed out to city residents since the start of the program on Jan. 20, citizens were interested in whether or not Bowling Green businesses could be included in the recycling program as well.

‘What comes to mind here is the bars,’ Quinn said. ‘There are probably things we could do that we haven’t done.’

Kelli Kling, from the Wood County Historical Society, said the administrator’s ability to recognize recycling as a major issue is something she personally feels is a step in the right direction.

By taking advantage of the renewable resources available to Bowling Green, including the infamous wind turbines, Kling said she thinks Bowling Green is on its way to becoming an eco-friendly city.

‘Recycling is something I personally support and its nice to hear the city talk about changes they’ve done and plans for the future,’ Kling said. ‘It’s nice to know they are filling in all the gaps.’

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