Toronto mayor outlines future

TORONTO -City Mayor John Geddis was the guest speaker for Thursday’s luncheon meeting of the city chamber of commerce at the North River Avenue Christian Church.

Geddis told members the city had a bright future, was financially solvent and thinking about the future.

“We’re in a positive mode,” said Geddis. “We ended the year in the black.”

The mayor also said the city’s business community was becoming more diverse, with several developments in the city tied to oil and gas development. The city reaped $2.5 million in tax revenue for 2012, which Geddis said was only $500 off from the auditor’s estimated, projected revenue for the year.

“Our projection for last year – we were only only $500 off,” Geddis said. “To hit that mark by $500 is pretty good.”

Geddis said he’d been fortunate to work with good auditors during his career, and city Auditor Bob Owen had retired at the end of 2012.

“(Councilman at Large) Joe Motto’s will be coming back (as auditor),” said Geddis.

Motto previously served as city auditor.

“The Dollar General store is (moving) to where the (former) Save-A-Lot (grocery store) was,” said the mayor, adding the current building on Fourth Street will be torn down and another constructed. “The (Toronto High School) Stadium has been completed.”

Geddis also cited the sale by FirstEnergy of property at the city’s north end to Houston-based Plains Marketing LP, which he said would lead to future development tied to oil and gas drilling. He added the former Kaul Clay property might also be developed. The future of Toronto also rests on the city’s having stable sources of revenue as well, he added.

Geddis said capital improvements for this year will include the demolition of more derelict housing with funds from the state attorney general’s office.

“The Kwik King stores have been sold to Coen Oil from Washington, Pa.,” said Geddis, adding former owner John Riley still is keeping his petroleum company based in Toronto.

The city still owes about $10 million on its water treatment plant, said the mayor, who also said the city soon will undertake a $1.9 million waterline replacement project to replace older waterlines, “mainly in the city’s south end,” he said. “We’re trying to line up all the revenue (sources) we can.”

Geddis said revenue will come from a variety of sources, including low-interest loans, grants and other sources. He added the Titanium Way bridge also need replaced, but “We have to get that bridge done,” he said, adding more than 80 trucks per day use the bridge. “It may be one lane for a while. It will be a bit of an inconvenience.”

The mayor also said the City Police have stepped up their game, and the city reaped more than $70,000 in fines last year. He added officers also have been working to deter drug activity in the city.

“I think the ($70,000 in fines) is a record,” he said. “We’ve got a great police department. We have a lot of new, younger guys, and they are more aggressive.”

Geddis also noted the city’s two seniors clubs have been growing with members joining from outside Toronto.

“The city also gives funds to the two seniors’ groups,” said the mayor. “It’s a great community to live in. The people of Toronto are what make it special.”