Wednesday, August 27, 2008

End of Summer

On Labor Day we will be holding the 2nd annual City Wide Picnic in Fireman’s Park. Come on down and enjoy music, games and food. It is a good time to get together with friends and celebrate the end of summer and the beginning of the school year. Mark Croft will be performing, there will be burgers and brats for sale, games and a jump house for the children. I hope to see you there!

As summer comes to an end Public Works is working to complete the road projects scheduled for this year. The parking lot by City Hall will be regraded and surfaced. Last winter there were several mishaps on the ice in the parking lot. The new design is much safer and provides parking for Library patrons as well as folks visiting City Hall. A part of Dix Street near 16/60 has been resurfaced. There will be some paving work done on Charles Street and cured-in-place sewer piping is being constructed. These are all much needed repairs that are essential to keeping the infrastructure of the city in good repair. Next year will see the Williams Street project and Lewis Street sewer project. We have experienced many years of not maintaining our infrastructure, and without annual maintenance the costs to replace are extremely high. This is a wise use of our tax money.

The City Administrator has been working with the department heads to prepare the 2009 budget. We anticipate an overall city tax increase of 2% which actually represents a decrease in money available for city services. We have a commitment for over 3% salary increases for union employees and approxmately11% increase in health insurance. Gas, oil, asphalt and many supplies have gone up in cost dramatically. In addition we experience record snows last winter and used up the entire snow removal budget for 2008 before this winter season has even arrived. The 2% overall budget increase will need to cover these expenses. Our mill rate will decrease in 2009 as a result of the revaluation. The state mandates the revaluation whenever assessed property values fall below 90% of fair market value. That threshold was met two years ago, so we had to reassess.

The Fire Department met to discuss incorporating EMS into fire services. They voted, and overwhelmingly approved moving forward to propose a plan that will provide EMS services integrated into the Fire Department. The fire department will be putting together a proposal that is fiscally responsible while providing superior EMS services. The goal is to save money, provide better service, and preserve as many EMT jobs locally as possible. They believe that this can be accomplished without any increase in taxes. You will be hearing more about this as the proposal is developed.

Happy Labor Day and drive safely as the children return to schools. They are precious treasurers… our future.

Nancy Osterhaus