Monday, November 30, 2015


Transition. It means “the process or a period of changing from one state or condition to another”, and if you hadn’t noticed there is a whole lot of “transitioning” going on around us at every level.

Nearly every department in our city is in the midst of a large scale transition designed to improve the way we do business and increase our capability to provide better service. At public safety many of these transitions are visible in the new uniforms, logo, badge, police car graphics, updated vehicles, and a new state of the art fire engine. What you might not notice at first glance is the new in-car and body cameras our officers are equipped with and the new crime mapping software that is being used to better protect you from crime. We hope you never have to see the new bunker gear designed to protect our fire fighters while they search for you in a burning building or the new “jaws of life” that work twice as fast as the old set to get you and your loved ones out of an entrapment situation minutes faster, and those minutes could mean your life, then we have been able to before. 

Administrative Services is in the midst of a utility billing computer system conversion that will make the bill easier to understand, and provide you with the opportunity to review your bill on line. It’s 2015, not 1985, and you expect and deserve to be able to have the opportunity to see your utility bill online, be able to understand it, be able to ask questions about it and be able to pay it without having to come up to city hall. But don’t worry; if you want to come up and talk to us we are here for you too.

Community & Economic Development is managing in a significant impact in construction in our city, with twelve new houses planned for our city and a major renovation of an existing apartment complex beginning soon. Dozens of derelict structures have been removed to improve the safety of our neighborhoods and the appearance of our city. A long range strategic plan for economic development for our community, developed by a group of citizens and community leaders over a period of six months, has been rolled out and is being implemented.

We are also making a big change to how we support businesses and events by transitioning towards a main street approach for our business districts and providing training for our small businesses. Several small businesses just completed a free training program provided by the city and the Kauffman Foundation to help them grow their business in our challenging economic environment. While the main street approach may not be the end all and be all of injecting vibrancy into our downtown and other business districts, we feel we must try a new tactic to support retail development in our city.

Public Works is in the middle of the largest sidewalk replacement effort in over a decade, and while the resources are not there to fix all of the problems, we are addressing the most significant ones. We are also developing a plan to get a good handle on our sewer issues and to fix them so that future generations will not have to deal with the problem of an underground sewer system that is failing. Making our sewer system better for our children is going to be a challenging and difficult effort that will require sacrifices from all of us, but in the end we have created a strategy to address these issues that is fair, equitable, and designed meet the challenges ahead.

None of the transitions we are going through as an organization happen out of the blue. They take planning and they build on each other just like a child’s set of building blocks can be put together, piece by piece, to create something new. Many of these projects have been years in the making, and have been designed to build upon each other to create a better local government that is in a better position to provide you with the service you deserve and expect.