David J. Berger
Mayor, City of Lima, 1989-Present
Updated November, 2016
The City of Lima, Ohio is a charter municipality (1932) with a strong mayor form of government. The Mayor is the City's chief executive officer responsible for over 375 employees and an annual budget in excess of $140 million. The Mayor is elected each four years in a non-partisan election.
Deep Buckeye Roots
Dave, a native of Mansfield, Ohio, moved to Lima in 1977 to become the Executive Director of Rehab Project. The non-profit community development agency renovated several hundred houses, and achieved national prominence for training programs for male and female prisoners who renovated single-family homes. He worked in that position until August 31, 1989 when he resigned to campaign in the City of Lima’s General Election for the position of Mayor.
A Solid Record of Leadership & Achievement: 1989 – Present
The Berger Administration has a highly successful track record of creating positive community change.
Seventh Term, 2014 - Present
November 5, 2013 witnessed Dave's re-election to an unprecedented 7th four year term as Mayor of Lima.
- Economic Development Success: The strength of the local economy was nationally highlighted in August 2016 via Area Development magazine's ranking of Lima as 33rd in the nation and BEST IN OHIO FOR 5 YEARS OF SUSTAINED GROWTH. The public-private partnership championed by Dave and others and led by the Allen Economic Development Group built job creation momentum and is now focused on workforce training to fill more than 1300 jobs available in the immediate Lima area.
- National Legislative Advocacy for Relief from Unfunded Mandates: On April 7, 2016, Dave testified before the U.S. Senate's Environment and Public Works Committee (EPW), co-chaired by Oklahoma Senator James Inhofe and California Senator Barbara Boxer. As the U.S. Conference of Mayor's Vice Chair for Water and member of the Mayors Water Council, Dave spotlighted the concerns the nation's mayors have regarding the unaffordable costs for poor and middle income households resulting from unfunded federal mandates. He recommended amendments to the Clean Water Act to help cities manage their environmental obligations. Several weeks later the EPW Committee by a vote of 19-1 passed legislation that incorporated many of the recommendations which Dave and the US Conference of Mayors had urged. And on September 15, 2016, the full Senate adopted the legislation by a vote of 95-3. It should be noted that Dave's Senate testimony followed on 2 prior testimonies given by Dave in 2012 and 2014 before the U.S. House of Representatives' Water and Infrastructure Subcommittee.
- Wise Fiscal & Organizational Management: Without resorting to layoffs or furloughs, Dave and his team successfully managed City finances through and following the Great Recession and increased its General Fund balance to over $9 million, 30% of its budget, a financial safety net nearly double the amount recommended by the Government Finance Officers Association. It should be noted that, despite the recession, the City actually increased services for ambulance transport, community policing, dilapidated and abandoned housing demolitions, and community and economic development.
- 1st in Nation for Integrated Planning: In November 2014, the City successfully completed a 10-year negotiation with USEPA on a consent decree for $150 million in sewer system improvements. Lima was the first city in the nation to complete these negotiations under the new Integrated Planning policy of the USEPA which Dave and the US Conference of Mayors had vigorously sought. Lima’s agreement is a model for other cities. Construction on the first $30 million in Early Action Projects is now underway, with the next $40 million phase anticipated to begin in 2018.
- Community Oriented Policing: Dave’s active support of collaborations among law enforcement agencies encouraged a new spirit of community engagement and targeting of crime and violence. Since 2008, Lima saw a 30% reduction in violent crime. The re-establishment of Community Oriented Policing in 2016 is prompting continuing progress with COP substations being opened in 3 priority neighborhoods.
- Lima Stadium Park: Through the generous engagement of the AR-HALE Family Foundation and efforts of former State Rep. Matt Huffman, more than $3 million in public and private resources were assembled for the creation of the Lima Stadium Park on the Bellefontaine Corridor. Construction is underway and should conclude in the late fall of 2016. Architectural renderings and construction photos are below.
- Saved JSMC: As co-chair of Task Force LIMA, Dave leads a highly effective collaborative advocacy effort to preserve and sustain the Joint Systems Manufacturing Center, the nation's only remaining battle tank factory. This decade –long work reversed the Army's decision to temporarily shutter the facility and led recently to decisions to reinvest $40 million at the JSMC. Further, employment at the JSMC is scheduled to significantly increase in late 2017 from 400 to perhaps as many as 1000 for production of the next generation Abrams tank.
- Pivot to Workforce Development: Through the efforts of Task Force LIMA, Lima and Allen County secured more than $3 million from the DOD’s Office of Economic Adjustment for workforce improvement initiatives, economic development planning and manufacturing innovation, like the Makerfest and Hometown Advantage outreach.
- Economic Development through Applied Research & Development (R&D): With support from the state and federal governments, the Ohio Energy and Advanced Manufacturing Center—which Dave helped to initiate--has established the nation's largest and most capable High Velocity Metal Forming lab. Work is underway with many other regional industries to integrate this technology into their manufacturing systems, making them more globally competitive.
- Rhodes State College in Downtown Lima: In mid 2016, Dave announced an agreement with Rhodes State College to provide $3 million for their Center for Health Science Education & Innovation to be built in the SE quadrant of Town. The city is also working to secure needed real estate and provide engineering services to the project.
- Historic Renovation of 1st National Bank Building: Via a uniquely designed RFP process in late 2015, the City secured a development proposal for the long abandoned and historic 12-story 1st National Bank building on Town Square. The total financing package for this $17 million project should be in place by early 2017.
- New Dominion Gas Campus in Downtown Lima: Working with Dominion Gas over a 3 year period, the City has committed to a development proposal for the company to construct a new $11 million campus on the east side of the downtown. Construction should be underway in 2017.
- Removal of Blight & Planning for Reuse: Over the past 5 years, the City competitively secured federal funds to be able to demolish over 600 dilapidated houses. Now in partnership with Ohio State University, the City is developing a plan for re-use of this abandoned real estate. In addition, the City has worked with Allen County for the creation of a county land bank through which additional funding is being sought for the removal of additional dilapidated homes throughout the county.
- Drinking Water System Expansion: Over the past 4 years, the City cooperated with the Allen Water District and others for the construction of over 15 miles of water lines to serve the village of Cairo and its neighboring industries and the village of Westminster, the Allen County airport and Rudolph Foods.
- Simmons Field Improvements: In partnership with the Lima Locos, the City invested $330,000 in the Simmons baseball field. More than $125,000 was raised in private funds for improvements to lighting, fencing, dugouts and seating areas, thereby anchoring collegiate league baseball in Lima. In addition to being a wonderful family recreation option (complete with fireworks!), it is estimated that the annual economic impact of Lima Locos baseball is more than $2.5 million per year.
Sixth Term, 2010 – 2013
Dave was re-elected in the November 3, 2009 general election to a 6th four year term as Lima’s Mayor.
- Having secured nearly $20 million in federal stimulus money for a dozen projects, the City successfully executed those projects. The largest—the Vine Street underpass—was dedicated for public use in November, 2011.
- The City broke ground on the new Williams reservoir--its largest capital project ever--in September, 2009. Construction was completed in the fall of 2011, adding over 5 billion gallons of storage capacity to the city’s water system. A new $14 million granular activated carbon filter project was completed in June, 2012 for the drinking water treatment plant, along with the addition of a 1.5 million gallon water tower.
- The Berger administration’s support of active collaborations among law enforcement agencies has encouraged a new spirit of community engagement and, through pinpoint policing, the successful targeting of crime and violence. This collaborative approach among the 13 local law enforcement agencies has resulted in a lower crime rate.
- During the recent long national recession, the City managed its finances in effective ways to maintain high quality services despite reduced resources. For the 2012 fiscal year, the City cut its general fund budget by $2 million dollars, a historically high reduction in expenditures on a year-to-year basis. And as the city developed its budget for 2013, it forecast that continuing spending constraints will increase the cash carry over balance to historic highs.
- Significant energy conservation projects involving the replacement of florescent lighting fixtures throughout city facilities and the rebulbing of street lamps and traffic lights with LED fixtures have been accomplished. Saving energy. Saving tax dollars.
- City and community partnerships in the form of the Lima Auto Task Force, Task Force LIMA, the Ohio Energy and Advanced Manufacturing Center and the Allen Economic Development Group are vigorously fostering economic development by supporting expansions at existing Lima and Allen County businesses and industries and providing assistance for workforce development and training.
- Successfully secured funding from both the federal Neighborhood Stabilization Program ($1.4 million) and from Ohio Attorney General's Moving Ohio Forward Grant ($288,000) for the demolition of roughly 300 abandoned and dilapidated houses in Lima's oldest neighborhoods.
- In collaboration with many community stakeholders, the Berger administration has teamed in the formation of Activate Allen County, in pursuit of healthy and active lifestyles and anti-obesity objectives for young and old. The team has secured $100,000 in grant resources from the US Conference of Mayors and more than $1.2 million from the Centers for Disease Control to implement a wide ranging set of changes in local policies, practices and programs.
Fifth Term, 2005 – 2009
The Berger administration and community partners worked energetically to complete several strategic economic development initiatives. These projects included the following:
- Secured federal and state resources of more than $3 million over a 4 year period, the City then developed an industrial park for agribusiness, creating good paying jobs and leveraging millions in investments. This project won the national award for enhancing regional economic competitiveness from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration.
- Awarded a $3.2 million Job Ready Site grant from the Ohio Department of Development, the City assembled a 14-acre site for the establishment of a research and development center. This initiative is leading to exciting opportunities in advanced manufacturing and technology.
- In partnership with American Trim and Rhodes State College, the Berger administration worked to qualify Lima for its first Ohio Third Frontier grants, thus moving the community into the ranks of those directly involved in expanding high-tech manufacturing. This initial success in 2006 has now led to other Third Frontier and related awards totaling nearly $20 million and leveraging an additional $15 million in R&D investments. These projects are focused on commercializing technology that has been in laboratories and is now able to create jobs and profitable manufacturing enterprises.
- Organized and chaired the Lima Auto Task Force, working with local public officials, auto company executives, labor and business leaders to market the Lima area for auto related investments. As a result, Lima has been commended by the Center for Automotive Research for having the best proactive community efforts.
- Orchestrated the formation of the Lima Regional IT Alliance (LRITA), bringing together data systems professionals for peer coaching, technical seminars and information technology planning for the Lima community.
- Continued to work with constrained resources during difficult financial times. Greater productivity made possible by investments in data systems and a focus on priority services allowed the city to become a lean and responsive organization, reducing its workforce from more than 530 to less than 400 personnel.
- Partnered with both St. Rita’s Medical Center and with Lima Memorial Hospital in their expansion projects, creating hundreds of jobs and investments approaching $175 million.
Fourth Term, 2001 - 2005
- Actively partnered with the Lima City Schools for the replacement and renovation of the district’s school facilities, a $110 million investment. These efforts included the relocation of the Lima Senior High School to a primary entrance corridor for the community, thus spectacularly showcasing the new facilities.
- Implemented the second phase of the Ottawa River Bikepath, which now traverses more than 9 miles of the community.
- Completed the development of the Liberty Commons Industrial Park.
- Appointed by Ohio Governor Bob Taft to serve on the All-Ohio Save Defense Jobs Task Force. In this capacity and through Task Force LIMA, Dave and a broad community coalition worked to save and expand military production at the Joint Systems Manufacturing Center, which expanded from employing 400 to more than 1100.
Third Term, 1997 - 2001
- Economic development, downtown revitalization, neighborhood renewal, and ongoing support of community oriented policing and Study Circles dialogues continued as priorities for the Berger Administration.
- During 1997-2000, more than 25 projects involving more than $50 million in investments occurred in the revitalization of Lima's downtown, including the development of a new $14 million YMCA.
- Served with 16 other Ohio Mayors on Ohio Governor Bob Taft’s Urban Revitalization Task Force, whose recommendations laid the foundation for the state’s Clean Ohio programs which have provided hundreds of thousands of dollars for Lima projects.
- Facilitated the sale of the Lima Refinery to Clark Oil, and thus prevented the closure and destruction of the Lima refinery by British Petroleum. In July, 1998, the Berger Administration’s efforts saved hundreds of local jobs and a very large industrial base. The Lima Refinery sale was showcased in the nationally broadcast PBS documentary Lost In Middle America : And What Happened Next. The sale was also prominently featured in the recently published book entitled Spiral Up, and Other Management Secrets Behind Wildly Successful Initiatives by Jane C. Linder. Additionally, Rust Belt Resistance: How A Small Town Took on Big Oil and Won, written by Bluffton University's Perry Bush, was published by Kent State University Press in the summer of 2012. It should be noted that the Lima Refinery is now owned by Husky Energy, which has invested over $700 million in the facility in the last 5 years and has announced additional plans to continue to upgrading the facility to process sour crude.
Second Term, 1993 - 1997
- Expanded a city-wide strategic planning process
- Positioned the Lima Police Department to implement Community Oriented Policing, which dramatically reduced crime and violence in the city's neighborhoods.
- Continued proactive approaches to neighborhood support, code enforcement, and housing rehabilitation
- Began the Ottawa River Bikepath.
- Worked on economic development challenges facing the community, e.g., obtained federal resources to deal with defense downsizing, created the vision for the Liberty Commons Industrial Park , and secured federal and state brownfield redevelopment funding.
First Term, 1989 - 1993
- Successfully managed the City's financial difficulties created by the national recession,
- Brought the Lima Police Department to its highest level of staffing in over 2 decades
- Effectively challenged onerous OEPA and USEPA environmental regulations
- Launched a new Department of Community Development with a focus on neighborhood and housing revitalization,
- Created the Central Point Industrial Park .
- Facilitated positive community dialogues on race and diversity, entitled Study Circles.
Dave’s Awards and Recognitions
The Distinguished Citizen Award, from the National Association of Realtors
Ohio Humanitarian Award, through the Ohio Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday Commission and presented by Ohio's Governor Richard F. Celeste
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Drum Major Award, from the Catholic Diocese of Toledo's Office of Black Catholic Ministries
Official recognition by Ohio Governor George V. Voinovich for work to improve community race relations through Study Circle dialogues
Ohio Water Environment Association’s Water Environment Public Service Award
Visionary of the Year, from the Allen County Visionaries
Alumni Community Service Award, from the Catholic University of America, Washington, D.C.
Mercy Club Award, from the St. Rita’s Medical Center’s Mercy Club
Violet Meek Town and Gown Award, from The Ohio State University at Lima
Visionary of the Year, from the Allen County Visionaries
Northstar Award, from the Blackswamp Area Council, Boy Scouts of America
Dave is a member of the United States Conference of Mayors and currently serves on the USCM's Energy Committee and Water Council, and is a member of the Ohio Mayors Alliance.
Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.
Master of Arts and Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy
St. Meinrad College in St. Meinrad, Indiana.
Certification in Community Economic Development, from the Development Training Institute in Baltimore, Maryland.
Dave and his wife, Linda, have 4 children, Karmin, Jennifer, Monica, and Michael. Linda, a graduate of Lima Technical College and now Rhodes State College, is recently retired from a career in physical therapy. Karmin and her husband, Andrew, have two children, Nina and Jayden. Karmin, a graduate of Ohio University, is a 6th grade teacher in the Athens, Ohio area. Jennifer, a 2002 graduate of the US Air Force Academy, achieved the rank of Captain and served as a project engineer working on GPS satellites at the Los Angeles Air Force Base. Jennifer and her husband, Brian, and son, Nolan, live in Hermosa Beach, California, where they operate a solar engineering company. Monica, also a graduate of Ohio University, taught kindergarten and 1st grade at the Shawnee Elmwood Elementary School, and is recently deceased. And Michael, and his wife Diana, live in San Francisco. Michael is a graduate of the University of Cincinnati with degrees in electrical engineering and finance, and is employed as a developer with Recurrent Energy, a utility-scale solar energy development company.