Dec. 31—Highland Heights will be moving into 2023 seeking to maintain a conservative approach to spending without cutting programs.
Mayor Chuck Brunello has said that adjusting to the work-from-home status spurred on by the pandemic has not been easy, but they continue to manage.
"We are looking for a conservative way of spending in the midst of our COVID recovery," Brunello said. "Thankfully we have not had to cut any of our programs this year, something I hope to carry over into next year."
Brunello said that they are holding on to federal ARPA funds as a means of helping combat some of the lost revenue suffered from the pandemic as they move forward into 2023. Brunello believes that all of their programs are equally as important and that cutting any of them would be a disservice to the community they serve.
He said that the cement shortage was major issue they had to contend with in 2022 as it hindered the progress made to repair their roads. Brunello said that 15% to 20% of their road work will remain incomplete going forward into the new year because of the shortage as suppliers were unable to build their inventory normally for winter months.
"We will pick back up in spring of 2023 and finish the road work to the best of our ability," the mayor said. "We put a timeline on projects like this and hope that we can get them done within that timeline, but the cement shortage unfortunately slowed that process."
Brunello said that many of the city-held events helped to raise the morale of their community throughout 2022.
The Highland Heights Halloween party was attended by over 600 residents from around the community, and their Holiday Tree Lighting on Dec. 3 had just as many in attendance.
"We want to continue to provide our residents with these amenities because we have all endured a lot in the past few years," Brunello said. "Giving our residents a fun and enjoyable series of events to enjoy is much needed."
Additionally, Brunello hopes in 2023 to reinvigorate and reinvest in community businesses, stating that he is thankful for the businesses that have already invested in the community.
"We are continuously trying to bring business into the city," he said. "We were lucky to have Lake Business Products brought their headquarters here and Metropolitan Veterinarian Hospital. The first step in our minds is how we can bring new business into the city."
Additionally, Brunello said that a priority for the city going into 2023 will be a continued reinvestment in their parks system which received a large update in 2022.
Highland Heights Community Park was one of the first to be updated in 2022 with a major focus on the park's benches, and baseball fields. Brunello said that in addition to the Community Park's baseball field, Highland Heights took extra care to update the baseball fields throughout their city.
Seven total baseball fields received updates and resurfacing of the fields in 2022 including a brand-new digital marque sign installed to the baseball field at Wilson Mill Park.
Brunello wants to continue to renovate their parks going in the new year and is looking for additional grant funding from the Recreational Trails Program for a new trail in their Community Park. Additional investments to their parks will include upgrades to the fencing surrounding the parks and updates to the tennis courts.
Brunello said that 2023 will come with its own set of problems that he and his staff will take on as a team to better the community.
"I think this is one of the best cities to live in, and we want to continue to keep that up going into the next year," he said. "Nothing is more important to us than maintaining the programs that we have and improving upon the city that we love. We want to continue to make this place somewhere our residents can be proud to live."