Last Updated on September 1, 2016 by cassnetwork
We’ve invited Logansport Mayor Dave Kitchell to share updates from the city in a monthly column.
Regardless of the economy, one thing city, county, state and federal officials always have to think about is the condition of their infrastructure.
Roads, streets, sidewalks, the utility grid and similar examples are the backbone of what makes transportation possible, what makes businesses profitable and what makes neighborhoods livable.
When you think of all of those things in that context, August was an exceptional month for our community. Between intermittent rains and scorching hot days, crews paved sections of Ind. 25 through the city. Then came word that we were successful in securing $1 million for the paving of Broadway, Market, High, North, 17th and 18th streets as well as Riverside Drive and Eberts Road. That money will complement what we already had in our city paving budget. Through the efforts of Deputy Mayor Mercedes Brugh, Street Commissioner Tony Shanks and our consulting engineer Jodi Coblentz, we were awarded the maximum amount possible through the state’s Community Crossroads program.
As good as that news is to report, our human infrastructure had a phenomenal month, too. It was a month when the first Baldini Trophy established by Peru Mayor Gabriel Greer and myself was won by the Logansport Berries, who are now off to a 2-0 start as the North Central Conference season begins. It was a month when people from throughout the community joined together for a collaborative discussion on planning for the future needs of the community. It was a month when a plan for the re-use of Logan Square began to come into focus with the projection of at least 30 one- and two-bedroom market rate apartments and retail area downtown. It was a month when all the $20,000 allocated by the city council for façade improvements to downtown buildings was awarded, and all the economic development funds committed to our new internship program for local industries was exhausted.
It also was a time when Logansport quenched its thirst for its largest summer festival since the Brass Ring Festival more than a decade ago. The Dentzel Carousel Festival attracted thousands to Riverside Park. William Dentzel, the fifth generation descendant of the carousel’s creator, Gustav Dentzel, came to Logansport and was impressed by the commitment volunteers made not only to the carousel and its preservation but Riverside Park. The efforts of Barry and Linda Baldwin and the dozens of volunteers they recruited this year to pull the event off could not be diminished by a Saturday morning rain. Children of all ages filled the booth areas, paddled canoes and rode the carousel by the dozens.
Meanwhile at the City Building, we’ve been working on the final drafts of an agreement for the new city/county Memorial Center and what has to be done to make it more user friendly. We’ve been working through the proposals and issues involved with a new power agreement for the Logansport Municipal Utilities when the existing one expires in 2018. And perhaps most importantly, in the short term, we’ve been working on the 2017 city budget.
While cities will always have challenges in some budget areas, Logansport’s challenge in 2017 will be to tighten its belt, streamline its budget and find new revenue sources to compensate for the loss of 30 percent of our general fund due to property tax caps. That said, Clerk-Treasurer Stacy Cox and our department heads have diligently been finding ways to reduce balances and restore the working reserve the city had at the beginning of 2011, even though are general fund balance at the start of our term this year was lower than it was even two years previously.
Raising taxes, at least for me, is a last resort. I will do whatever I can to live within the budgets we’ve inherited and the ones we will approve for next year. Stacy and I have agreed to “shop” our health insurance, working together for a possible city/LMU bid that could even involve county government for the first time ever. We are pursuing energy efficiency initiatives that will reduce our overhead in street lighting and utility consumption budgeted this year at more than $400,000. And we are exploring ways to reduce our technology costs and overhead, including the cost of Internet access and phones.
Through it all, we will remain committed to public safety and the people like the police and firefighters who have been involved in drug investigations and the Closson Lumber Fire. We will keep supporting school initiatives such as the new Spanish/English K-5 Immersion Program at Landis Elementary. We will continue to celebrate the milestones such as the 70th anniversary of Harris Glass Company, a family-owned local firm that reached that mark last month. We will work to improve stormwater service, particularly in areas such as downtown and Washington Street that were hit hard by sudden, heavy late summer storms. And we will continue to work on a handful of economic development projects as the Cass County labor force, as reported in the Pharos-Tribune, continues to grow.
It’s been said that the road to the place opposite of heaven is paved with good intentions. It can be said of Logansport in 2016 than our roads to “well” are being paved with great expectations, because we can do better. And we will.
On behalf of our department heads and employees, thank you for all the encouragement you have given us through the first two-thirds of 2016. It helps keep us going and it reminds us that as much as the Berries played for a trophy they won in Peru last month, we’re playing for more trophies on Logansport’s mantel every day.
If we can be of any help, don’t hesitate to call 753-2551 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.