Kingston celebrates 100 days in office delivering first state-of-the-city

by Melissa Martin

It’s been a long time since a Brecksville mayor delivered his first state-of-the-city address – nearly four decades – but Daryl Kingston rose to the challenge April 18, just a few days after his 100th day at the helm of the city.

After replacing longtime Mayor Jerry Hruby, who served 36 years in office prior to retiring in December, Kingston made certain to tip his hat to the former mayor. As part of his speech, he acknowledged that it is because of his predecessor and the work of previous city administrations and councils, that he inherited a community that prides itself on maintaining a solid business community, a top-notch school district, one of the lowest tax rates in Northeast Ohio and a future that holds the promise of keeping Brecksville on the map for decades to come.

And that, he said, is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to what Brecksville has to offer.

Kingston served three years as a member of Brecksville City Council prior to being elected mayor last November. In his speech, he pointed to a recent report conducted by that ranked the 81 communities that make up Northeast Ohio according to property tax rates. In 2024, he said, the city ranked No. 67 in that list.

“That means there are only 12 cities [in Northeast Ohio] with a lower effective tax rate than Brecksville,” he said, noting that 20 years ago, in 2004, the city ranked 41st on that list. Thirty years ago, in 1994, Brecksville placed 38th on that list.

Adding to the financial feathers in the city’s cap, he said, is that the community has witnessed an 18% increase in property values since 2009.

Saying a leader is only as good as the people supporting him, Kingston paid tribute to all city departments, detailing the work of the administration and staff over the past year and the key projects moving the city forward.

Among those highlights, the city was awarded more than $9 million in 19 separate grants in 2023, a portion of which will be used to begin the Brecksville Road repaving project in 2024. The project, which will take place over a three-year span, will resurface the roadway from Richfield to the city’s northernmost corporation line at Sprague Road.  

The city’s fire department also had a banner year, Kingston said, responding to 1,787 emergency calls and 1,212 medical calls in 2023. Thanks to response times on those calls, as well as an increase in training for fire department employees, the city was able to boost its ISO rating, which plays a significant role in calculating homeowners’ insurance rates, to a 2.

“Fewer than 5% of communities [nationwide] have a rating of 1 or 2, so this is quite an accomplishment,” Kingston said. “Five years ago, we were a 4 and now we are a 2.”

Equally as noteworthy, Kingston said, are the capital purchases the fire department intends to make this year. Along with buying a new ambulance to replace a 12-year-old unit, he said the department plans to refurbish a ladder truck and purchase new safety equipment for putting out fires in electric vehicles, which burn hotter than other cars.

“Even better news is that all this equipment will be purchased with money generated by non-resident ambulance billing revenue,” he said. “All of this will be paid for by members of other communities who utilized our services.”

As for police, that department responded to 12,134 calls for service in 2023 and the city of Brecksville was again ranked among the top-10 safest cities in the state of Ohio.

“I’m honored to continue that tradition and to continue the vigilance,” Kingston said.  

The city also will open a new safety station to house both police and fire in the Valor Acres Development in 2025. He said the city has already received a $500,000 grant to put towards that project.

Speaking of Valor Acres, Kingston said, 2024 is shaping up to be a monumental year as far as that development is concerned. Not only have the improvements to the Interstate 77-Miller Road interchange been “a game changer” in terms of economic development, but it also has the potential to act as a magnet when it comes to attracting businesses to the city’s south end in the years to come.

Businesses already drawn to the convenience of the interchange and overall locale afforded by the Valor Acres development include Sherwin Williams, which intends to open its new research and development center with more than 900 employees this fall. The same goes for DiGeronimo Companies, which will open its new headquarters in Valor Acres by the end of the year.

On March 5, Kingston said, the city’s planning commission approved five mixed-use buildings that will be located near the northwest corner of Brecksville and Miller roads. While the names of the intended occupants of those buildings has yet to be released, Kingston said the developer “just got the green light to move full speed ahead.”

In the year ahead, Kingston said, he intends to make further economic development, along with retaining existing businesses, his top priority.

“It’s been an honor to [be elected to this position], and I’m definitely giving it all I’ve got,” he said. ∞

Mayor Daryl Kingston (right) meets with residents following his first state-of-the-city address. Photo by Melissa Martin.

Mayor Daryl Kingston says he plans to focus on economic development during his first year in office, focusing on attracting new business to the city and business retention. Photo submitted.

On our cover (photo): Brecksville Mayor Daryl Kingston hosted his first annual state-of-the-city address April 18, during which the city named its 2024 Citizen of the Year, Denise Gawlik, and its 2024 Business of the Year, 1811 Specialty Shop and Bar Room. Photo submitted by the city of Brecksville.