WOODMERE — Treasurer Tom Cornhoff plans to retire at the end of May after 22 years as the village treasurer. Mr. Cornhoff, 66, oversaw significant changes in the village, including the renovation of Eton Chagrin Boulevard, the increased income tax and the new service department.
Mr. Cornhoff said that when he started in Woodmere in 1997, Chagrin Boulevard was a two-lane highway. Eton, the high-end retail shopping district in the village, had yet to be renovated to become a “destination” shopping plaza as it is now, Mr. Cornhoff said.
In the early 2000s, he said that property manager Bob Stark of Stark Enterprises came to the village with a plan to renovate Eton, which led to its current appearance with bold storefronts and stunning summer gardens. In 2004, according to Mr. Cornhoff, Chagrin Boulevard was widened to allow for the increased traffic flow. Woodmere already had popular businesses before the Eton renovation, Mr. Cornhoff said, but improvements by Stark Enterprises brought law firms and financial firms to the offices above the shopping mall.
“It has become a very good economic tax base with the businesses and retail shops that we have,” he said.
According to Mr. Cornhoff, Woodmere collects $3.2 million annually in income taxes, and nearly 65 percent comes from Eton. In the late 2000s, the village increased the income tax from 2 percent to 2.5 percent, which brought Woodmere an additional $300,000 in annual revenue, Mr. Cornhoff said.
His goal when hired was to achieve and maintain financial sustainability. At the time of his appointment, he recalled, Woodmere had less than $50,000 in the general fund. Over the next four years, Mr. Cornhoff worked with former Finance Committee Chairman Bill Franklin and former Mayor Robert Rice to increase the balance to $900,000. Now, the village boasts nearly $9 million in the general fund, and it has topped $10 million several times in the last few years, Mr. Cornhoff said.
The treasurer served under four administrations over 22 years, including former Mayors Robert Rice, Yolanda Brody and Charles Smith and current Mayor Ben Holbert. Prior to coming to Woodmere, Mr. Cornhoff worked in the state auditor’s office for 19 years and worked in Solon for 15 years. He is also currently the fiscal officer for Bratenahl.
“I consider Woodmere my second home,” Mr. Cornhoff said. “The residents are a great group of people. They truly care about each other and the community as does the council and the mayor. The department heads challenge each other to provide the best possible services to the village.”
He also wanted to thank his fellow employees in the finance department for their hard work and dedication to the village.
“I think the world of Tom,” Mayor Holbert said. “He has a nice demeanor and he’s an efficient and effective treasurer. He is well-regarded throughout the finance community.”
Mayor Holbert listed various projects that Mr. Cornhoff has been involved with, including securing the master planning grant and completing the East Brainard Road widening and the Village Hall renovation.
The treasurer is appointed by council, and Mayor Holbert said that the village will begin interviewing candidates. He said that he would prefer to find a permanent replacement rather than an interim treasurer so the new treasurer can learn about Woodmere’s finances as quickly as possible.
According to Mayor Holbert, municipal treasurers are difficult to find because people with the necessary training are working in the private sector. The mayor said that Mr. Cornhoff is helping the village find candidates. A job description also is posted on the Ohio Municipal League website.
Mr. Cornhoff is working for Woodmere until the end of May, then he said that he plans to move to Texas to be closer to his grandchildren. He plans to spend time with his family and do charity work.