So we come to the end of my fourth year as your City Manager. I’d call 2018 a transition year. A year where we talked less about where we were and more about where we want to go.
We finished a number of large projects and started new ones. The new schools are finished and in operation. NTE is producing electricity. Kettering Health Network is open for business. OPUS is under construction in MADE industrial park.
Beyond that, however, there are a couple of notable changes in the city during 2018. The first is with public safety.
Heroin overdoses are down almost 50% from last year, at a time when other communities are still showing increases. This is due to a community wide effort. With our partners at Atrium Medical Center, we have changed the message and actions regarding addiction in the city. The Heroin Response Team visits with every overdose victim possible. Our public safety forces have increased enforcement. Our needle exchange is keeping disease down while other Butler County areas are showing large spikes in hepatitis and other diseases. What was taboo and unspeakable just a few years ago has become a community effort and open discussion as to how specifically to treat addiction in this city. I applaud our friends at Atrium for their forethought and their participation with me on making this a priority for the area.
Crime is significantly down in the city. Middletown Division of Police responded to 10,000 fewer calls for service in 2018 than they did in 2017. Part one serious crimes showed significant decreases. Thefts are down. Drug enforcement is up. As is always the case, Chief Muterspaw has been everywhere in the community (and on Twitter, lol). MPD celebrated multiple community events in 2018 including National Night Out, Coffee with a Cop (quarterly), meeting with Middletown area pastors (quarterly), continued work with the Citizens Advisory Board, Candy with a Cop (distributing candy to children too sick or disabled to trick or treat), Shop with a Cop (to provide Christmas gifts to underprivileged children), and ongoing work with Middletown landlords.
The Division of Fire is completing new manpower and station location studies. With the changing landscape of the city and more east end development, we know that some of our old stations are nearing the end of their useful life and also are not ideally positioned to best respond to the future of Middletown. This new information helps us understand what the ideal layout would look like so we can start designing a future Division of Fire that best serves the community.
The new city Master Plan is almost done. We worked on land use and other areas of the plan this year, our first new plan since 2005. We are now working on transportation and housing to be included into the overall plan.
Housing was a large priority in 2018. I am happy to see housing values rebounding finally after the recession. I’d like to take this time to thank my housing committee. They’ve put in long hours working with me to discuss Middletown housing and to find the best policies moving forward for demolition, renovation of existing homes, dealing with tax delinquent property, vacant land, vacant housing, infill construction and full use of the Butler County land bank. As we move into 2019, we’ll take those concepts and create a comprehensive housing policy along with neighborhood plans for renovations.
2018 saw another year of record income tax levels.
I see Dayton and Cincinnati moving towards us and amazing possibilities in the next 3-5 years. I see record revenues two years in a row. I see new businesses and expanding businesses and open jobs all over the city. I see beautiful historic homes. I see further reduction in crime and better access to health care throughout the city. I see city neighborhoods that will be revitalized over the next several years. I see more and more places to go and things to do.
I still hear too often about how nothing good is happening in the city or even more often “yes, but…” or how we used to be an All America City. We are not prosperous, but I can see prosperity coming… soon. And prosperity needs to include all of our residents. You have a beautiful city on the cusp of becoming prominent again in the State of Ohio. My challenge to you in 2019 is for each of you to do something to move your city forward. Actively be part of the solution. Participate, volunteer, eat and shop locally, tell a friend about the good things happening, celebrate the good and work with me to continue the path forward. Help me work on our shortcomings to make the city as a whole a better place to live and work. And please stop talking badly about your city… It’s the best community I’ve ever lived in.
I wish all of you a Happy New Year and I look forward to a great 2019.