GIRARD - After more than 10 years, the city will be released from fiscal emergency at the oversight commission meeting on May 31.
Sharon Hanrahan of the Ohio Office of Budget and Management said Wednesday that the city's five-year forecast and termination review have been approved by the Auditor of State's Office.
"I'm very happy for our city and citizens. Obviously, this is a stigma that has been lifted," Mayor James Melfi said.
At the beginning of the month, the city raised water rates by 8 percent, at the urging of the fiscal commission, to balance that office's books and show a positive forecast in an area that has plagued Girard's finances for years.
Hanrahan said all requirements of the financial recovery plan were met, including implementation of new financial policies and use of purchase orders and balance verification methods.
Girard was placed into fiscal emergency on Aug. 8, 2001, with a certified debt of $2.5 million. They were close to emerging in 2007 before Indalex, the city's largest employer, went belly up. Melfi said annual revenues from Indalex were roughly $500,000.
Just as Girard began dealing with that, the 2008 recession hit, sending their fiscal ship further out to sea yet again.
"There was no magic to it. We just lived within our budget," Auditor Sam Zirafi said. "We looked to the future and got a good feel for our revenue streams and based our budget on continuous revenue streams rather than hoping money comes in."
Melfi said the city has still been able to mask improvements throughout their fiscal challenges, including demolitions and the additional of a $7.5 million senior apartment complex.
The city recently received three neighborhood revitalization grants totaling $1 million and Melfi said they are poised to obtain more state money for infrastructure improvements.
City Council also entered an agreement with Trumbull County for a money matching program that will help with demolition projects. Girard has already contributed $25,000 to that.
They've also applied for beautification dollars at Interstate 80 near the V&M Star site. The city is also conducting a study in partnership with Red Roof Inn to bring a hotel to the city.