The Terre Haute Chamber of Commerce welcomes guest blogger Mayor Duke Bennett. Mayor Bennett gives his City Update recap below:
I recently had the opportunity to update the TH Chamber of Commerce with a recap of 2015 and some things we are focused on for 2016. Here are the highlights:
We will end the 2015 year with an overall budget surplus. We will continue to have deficit in about 7 or 8 funds (out of our 80 total funds) with positive progress made on several. The city continues to have very little debt outside the Sanitary District (mandated by the federal government) and the Department of Redevelopment (TIF Bonds). We completed a Comprehensive Financial Plan and now are evaluating several revenue options such as a trash fee, PS LOIT, PTax Relief LOIT, Food and Beverage Tax, sewer rates and a storm water fee. We will need 2-3 of these options in the next year or so. We do have a balanced General Fund Budget for 2016 and are planning for one in 2017 also.
The crime rate continues to be trending down as we have seen 40% drop in property crimes since 2008 and we have one of the lowest violent crime rates among similar sized Indiana cities. The local fire Insurance Services (ISO) rating dropped to a 3 last year. This is due to the fire department exceeding expectations on training, equipment and performance over the last couple of years. The Waste Water Treatment Plant major upgrade was completed along with several large sewer re-linings. The Dog Park and River Trail at Fairbanks Park were opened to the public in 2015 and many condemned homes were demolished using EDIT and BEP Funds. We also experienced increased construction investments and I was able to perform 37 ribbon cuttings last year.
2016 Projects and Focus Areas
Margaret Ave. from 7th to Canal Road will be completed and construction will start on the next section between 25th Street and Canal with an overpass at 19th Street. The 1St Blvd. project and intersection improvements at 1st and Hulman will be done. Work is scheduled to begin on the new Police Station and a large amount of paving and sidewalks work will occur. Strategic local focus areas will include the Regional Cities Program, Launch Terre Haute, riverfront projects, the Hulman Center Project and other quality of life initiatives that will attract talent and business to Terre Haute.
Mayor Duke A Bennett