Archive for Friday, January 10, 2003

Mayor gives State of the City Address

January 10, 2003

State of the City Speech

Baldwin City Kansas

January 6th, 2003

By Mayor Ken Hayes

In the course of 2002 the city of Baldwin has faced many challenges, and recorded a number of successes. Overall, it is my hope that the people of this city look back at 2002 as a turning point for our community in the areas of revitalization of commerce and reconstruction of the cities interior. Although 2002 was in my opinion a very successful year, 2003 will prove to be the harvest of the labors put forth in 2002. The-coming year will be fraught with challenges and have considerable opportunities for self improvement city wide.

In the arena of infrastructure, we have in the past 12 months set upon the course to build long term solutions to the utility supply issues we face today, as well as the challenges of supplying our customers of the future. Electrically, the new power plant scheduled for completion in August of 2003 will answer our supply questions for power. This publicly owned facility will also help maintain our independence of being totally reliant on corporate power sources which we have seen over the last year ca» be both fiscally and operatively unreliable. This community built asset will serve the people well into the 21st century.

Waste water facilities currently under construction will double thy cities capacity to process waste water. This will provide -greater environmental control of our discharge-and provide capacity for our growing city. This facility will be operational in-the spring of 2003.

The construction of two new 750,000 gallon water towers will have the dramatic effect of doubling our water pressure on average to every dwelling in our community. The first of these towers will be completed by August 1st to increase pressure throughout the city, facilitate the opening of the new school complex, and replace .the aged.components of the water supply system. The-second-tower which will replace the older tank north of town will round out the infrastructure improvements that will vastly increase our ability to serve the citizens with stable, adequately pressurized water.

In relation to water supply, this administration is eagerly awaiting the decision by the Army Corps of Engineers as to the route of the South Lawrence Trafficway. The choice of a 32nd street alignment will mean the relocation of our vital water supply line at state and federal expense, and most importantly remove our water line from .the Baker wetlands.

Parks-and Recreation in the community have .seen many increases both in area of park land and community participation in youth and adult recreation. With the addition of over 10 acres of Public Park donated by developer Jerry Donnelly to the community -increased by over 38% the areas in our city set aside for public use. The level of participation in the Baldwin Parks and Recreation organization "has been no less phenomenal, and has-shown that this area is of great interest to the community. The staff of Baldwin Parks and Recreation has done a great job with the limited resources to accomplish this feat.

The protection of our city through police and fire departments has undergone many changes in the past year. The reorganization of our police department and the addition of new leadership in the form of our new Chief Michael McKenna holds promise for a vigorous rebuilding of this department and hopefully many positive results for 2003. Our fire department which has received a significant boost financially at the tail end of 2002 via federal aid grants will soon benefit from new-equipment to help safeguard the lives and property of our community.

Administratively Baldwin City has-reorganized some internal functions to provide better service to the population with limited increases in staffing and expense. This has resulted in a do-more attitude, efficiently with the-same staffing to control costs and .increase customer service. These results are outgrowths of a higher degree of interaction on.a positive level between government and the populous. This has been .shown through code enforcement, restructuring of city charter ordinances increasing participation in governmental process. The use of committees to help our city study problems, and increased levels of elected officials participation in grappling with the issues that this city faces. 'Specifically the use of an increased quorum level for our meetings, and the concept of two readings for ordinances for our city has increased the public's .ability to participate in government.

Economically, Baldwin has gone against the-grain of most of the State of Kansas, during the economic down times of 2002. We have seen increases in our sales tax revenues generated in our city that are significant. The growth of businesses, in number and variety of services provided has made the commercial choices for citizens larger in a marked degree. This has helped stem the tide of monies flowing out of our city and to surrounding communities. Further the development taking place in our community has helped to broaden our tax base both residentially .and commercially which has enabled this administration to lower the tax mill levy over 14% in the last two years. These tax benefits, accomplished in tough economic times, benefit every business and citizen of Baldwin,

Since a State of the City speech should address the past year's accomplishments, it should also outline the plans for the future. n the- coming year, we will begin; to -week on a variety of projects to further enhance our community. These will take-the, following lines of investigative study and public actions.

1. Study the concept of revitalization of the downtown business district. The addition of new businesses in our-city's core, in conjunction with the rebuilding of the sidewalks, streets .and overall beautification of our downtown area will net many positive results. n enhanced beautification and rebuilding of our city's center will make this a destination for consumers and asset that our population will enjoy. As mayor I will be starting a group of people made -up of city staff, business and building owners, Baker University and elected official to come up with a plan to aid in the revitalization of downtown.

2. Parks and Recreational facilities in our city will need to be improved to handle the markedly increased use-by our citizens. In conjunction with the Parks and Recreation commission, our school board, and Baker University, we will inventory our -combined assets to see where we-can get-the highest and best use from these facilities and how to plan for new areas of interest. These will include-park development, walking and jogging paths, sidewalks, and facilities such as a skate board park, and senior activity facilities.

3. Maintenance and enhancement of the economic, engine that provides the dollars for increased services in Baldwin City. This includes the concept of a Business/Industrial park for our city. ith the assistance of the Douglas County Economic Development-personnel, our Chamber of Commerce, and city -government, we will seek to develop our commercial and industrial tax base. We have the benefit of being in one of the fastest growing counties) in the State of Kansas. By providing locations for acceptable employers to build facilities we can boost our employment of people in our city, and increase revenues. The completion of our utility upgrades will allow our city to provide adequate, stable infrastructure to supply these potential customers.

4. Public health and safety which-are always public concerns will also receive attention. The rebuilding of our police force is paramount to this policy. The location of traffic control facilities along Highway 56- also will be accomplished in 2003. The new, equipment for our fire department will also increase our level of protection.

5. Administratively we will strive to increase our public service without overburdening our staffing and increasing expenditures in our city government. We will attempt to do more, efficiently, with less cost,-in the coming year.

In the coming year many of the challenges our-city will face will be fiscal in nature due to the bad situation that exists in our State financial house. We- will be tasked to hold the line .on taxation of our citizens and trying to maintain the positive momentum that has been generated over the last two years. Although this is a daunting challenge, it is not insurmountable. We have to capitalize on the bright economic achievements here in our city and strive to maintain the ones accomplished; while .fostering new enterprises to employ and benefit our-population,

Overall 2002 was a positive and exciting year for the city. It is my belief that 2003 will far outstrip the previous year in-accomplishments and benefits for the people of Baldwin City.

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