This blog post represents my 240th entry. That’s a lot of words.
At this time last year, I published the post “Our Five Year Mission.” The purpose of that post was to lay out what I thought it would take to return us to sustainable revenues.
I talked about updating city planning in the following areas:
- a new Downtown Master Plan built on the Main Street concept;
- Community Visioning of What our Residents would like Middletown to become;
- A new Zoning Code incorporating the most modern concepts in zoning overlaid with Middletown’s objectives in land use and economic development;
- A housing study that helps us over time to create a vibrant housing stock with improving property values;
- An update to the Airport plan to open new development opportunities at the Airport;
- A pedestrian/bicycle/automobile/transit study that gives us better ways to move people throughout the city to shopping and jobs.
The new downtown plan is completed and being vetted by City Council.
The Community Visioning will be presented to City Council in February or March and again will be vetted by City Council and hopefully adopted as part of the new City Master Plan.
The new Zoning Code is complete and is being reviewed by the attorneys to make sure everything in the code is consistent with the current state of zoning law in Ohio. We should adopt the new code by the end of the year.
The Housing data has been received in draft form and we’ll be rolling that out in mid-2017 for discussion.
The Airport plan will be revised this year.
The final piece, after the housing study is completed and adopted by City Council, will be the transportation study to tie together transportation across these other plan parts.
I said a year ago:
It will be hard. It will be aggressive. It will take a little bit of good luck in the economy. It’s the right time for the right goal. Let’s get back to sustainable revenues and fixing our city. I’ve said it several times in public. “You can’t fix Middletown on Thursday.” I believe we can fix it in five years, however….
I firmly believe that it is possible to reach sustainable revenues and to be ready to continually fund all needed areas in the city by 2020.
Most comments I receive are supportive and kind. I still get several comments that things are not progressing fast enough. There are two reasons that I’m not moving us faster.
First, the revenues aren’t there to do it. We grew $700,000 in income tax receipts in 2016 over 2015 collections. Our water and sewer issues will cost around $400 million and repairing all of our streets will require over $160 million. $700,000 is a lot of money but it doesn’t touch these repairs in a meaningful way. This is a marathon, not a sprint. We only have so many residents and businesses in the city. If we want repairs faster, then I’ll need to tax you all more to pay for it. I’m trying not to do that, so we have to move at a slower pace.
Second, the changes we are making are designed to bring sustainable revenues year after year, not a flash in the pan. The changes aren’t sexy and easily visible. We are working daily to build up the business community, educate our residents, and do all of the little things that over time will build value in our real estate, provide a more educated work force, and build businesses and jobs throughout the city.
We are starting year 3 of my 5 year plan. That means we are only 40% into what I hope to accomplish with the plan.
We are only about 10% of where I believe this city can end up in the next few years. The early years will be spent planning and laying foundations. The more visible pieces should take shape in 2018-2020.
You can’t fix Middletown on Thursday. I believe that if we reach sustainable revenues to maintain and repair all of our roads, water and sewer, parks and quality of life aspirations by 2020, that would be an incredible resurgence from where we have been the past two decades. Try to be patient. These things are hard to fix and take a lot of time, effort and money. We will get it done….