2022 Annual Report
2022 was a very good year for our Village. The Village remains financially sound and a very desirable place to visit and live. In recognition of the Village’s unique character, Chagrin Falls was selected by Scenic Ohio, along with four other communities in the state, for an award honoring our scenic beauty and historical nature of the Village. Almost all the commercial space in our business district is filled and thriving. For the Village government the year was one of much planning, personnel change, and some frustration in obtaining necessary regulatory approvals and contractor availability for major capital projects. Further complicating major project execution, construction cost inflation has been severe generally and particularly in Ohio due to the effects state-wide effects of massive Intel project in Columbus. Despite these challenges, much was accomplished.
Our year-end cash balances are up from the prior year, reflecting the tax collections, conservative spending practices and postponed capital projects - primarily due to slower than expected regulatory approvals required to start construction. The largest deferrals were Phase II Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP) expansion and modernization and the replacement of the water line and the related relining of the sanitary sewer on Maple St. Fully engineered plans for these projects were submitted early in the 2022 year for required Ohio EPA review and approval. We are awaiting state action on Phase II WWTP plans, which we believe is only a delayed formality. In January 2023, we finally received approval for the Maple St. project, for which we plan to use Federally restricted COVID recovery funds of just over $400,000 which are included in the year end cash balances.
The administration implemented a new and improved Village website in 2022 ( www.chagrin-falls.org ). The modern design and enhanced tools serve as a key resource for the community to learn about and interface with our Village government. It is also a tool used to conduct day-to-day business and communicate a variety of information to the community. By subscribing to the website, residents are in control of the information they personally want to receive by selecting their categories of interest. The site is 100% mobile-friendly with enhanced functionality to communicate important notices, report concerns, contact staff, find facilities and parks, search functionality, custom calendar views by department and boasts other helpful features. Progress with this technology has increased efficiency and productivity for our employees and is a valuable resource for residents.
The Village was successful in obtaining major grants that will assist in the financing of several of our other planned capital projects. I would like to highlight major funding achievements:
1. We received an Ohio EPA 319 grant to open-air a stream in Evergreen Cemetery, currently enclosed in a failing culvert pipe. This project will significantly expand the number of in ground burial sites and more than pay for itself from sale of grave sites.
2. We were also successful obtaining Cuyahoga County’s commitment to expand their share of the Chagrin River wing wall rehabilitation adjacent to Main Street and Riverside Park to 25% of the total cost up from a fixed dollar amount that had previously been committed.
We do not know the cost of the wing wall repair as it will be bid as a part of the County Main Street bridge replacement. The last estimate of the wing wall cost we obtained is from 2017 at $1.2M. The County currently has this project out for bids with bid openings scheduled for early March.
3. We were awarded a FEMA grant that will pay 90% of the cost of stabilizing the Vincent Street hillside. The hillside has been sliding gradually over the years as can be seen from near the Bell Street and American intersections. This will be a major project with preliminary cost estimates more than $2,000,000. The Village’s share of the cost will be $200,000.
4. While not formally approved yet, we are confident that we will receive additional financial support from the Ohio Public Works Commission (OPWC) to assist in financing our Phase II WWTP program. This is expected to be $1,000,000 - half in the form of an interest free loan and half as an outright grant. We very recently received a grant from Cuyahoga County for $250,000 for the WWTP modernization.
5. Also related to the WWTP program, the Village received a federal grant of $3,500,000, working with our congressional representative, Dave Joyce. As previously discussed, we must wait on the Ohio EPA approval of our plans before we can bid this project. The exact cost of this project requires formal bidding of all components, but we have secured well over 50% of the anticipated cost of the project in outside financing.
In June of 2023, our current electrical power purchase agreement (PPA) expires and we anticipate a significant increase in our electrical costs to operate the WWTP. Currently we are buying power at $0.0389 per kilowatt hour (kWh). Electrical power is one of the largest costs of operating the treatment plant. Electrical power supply is currently costing over $12,000 per month. Estimates suggest this could increase to $0.085 per kilowatt hour – a 119% base cost increase. In 2022, we started to investigate ways to control our power costs, identifying two options. The Phase II WWTP plant upgrade will repower the plant with energy efficient variable speed motors and pumps. The second option under active analysis and consideration is to generate some of the WWTP’s power needs with photoelectric solar cells. We estimate we can derive upwards of 40% of the plants electrical power needs from a Village-owned solar installation at levelized cost per kWh of around $0.05. Grant funding that we believe would cover over 50% of the capital cost of a solar installation is available should we elect to proceed. The administration will be submitting a solar power proposal to the Village Council for consideration in March.
I look forward to 2023. Our goal is to complete the wide range of projects in our plan to improve the quality of life for all Village residents and assure the Village infrastructure is positioned to serve our needs through the decades ahead.
Mayor of Chagrin Falls