I look forward to starting a new term with the new ward boundaries and serving a brand new group of residents and families! It is nice to have a chance to sit back, take a break and think about the year behind us and the times ahead while enjoying some time with family and friends in the spirit of the season!
We have many challenges coming in 2014, including the loss of the Estate Tax, another decrease in the Local Government Fund, the continuing job loss from the City, loss of the COPS Grant and the SAFER Grant. The new stormwater program will be finalized, leading to a new set of fees for each household. Water distribution and sewer line improvements continue, as we deal with the cost overruns and litigation from the Water Distribution facility improvements.
The 2014 budget must be finalized by March 31 and it must account for all of these challenges, in addition to maintaining the fine level of service and activities we enjoy from our Street Department, Parks and Recreation, Police, Fire, Health Department and so on. Council will soon hear the Mayor's recommendations and possible request for a tax increase for the May ballot. We will move forward to finalize the new LifeCare contract as well.
There are many things to look forward to as well. We have a beautiful park system, two waterfalls, lights at Finwood, a wonderful town square, concerts in the park, recreation programs, senior activities, a revitalized transportation center, the best community college in the state, access to the county offices, courts and services in our own downtown, excellent drama and music programs at our brand new high school's performing arts center, new construction coming downtown, investment in State Route 57 in the Midway Mall area, the Memorial Day parade, the Apple Festival, various church and community events and festivals, community involvement in Pride Day, swimming pools, soccer, softball, baseball, football, ice skating, tournaments, and many, many more things throughout the year!
We live in a great little city, the County seat, and we are fortunate to have relatively low income tax rates, property tax rates and comparatively high levels of service. There is a great deal of support available for those in need and our sense of community is increasing with our pride in our town.
God Bless you all and the Craig family wishes everyone health, wealth and good fortune for the holiday season and the year to come!