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Welcome to 2017

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Vivian Moon View Drop Down
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Joined: May 16 2008
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Vivian Moon Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Topic: Welcome to 2017
    Posted: Jan 10 2017 at 10:17am

Middletown City Manager Douglas Adkins

www.cityofmiddletown.org

 

Welcome to 2017

JANUARY 10, 20171

 

I hope everyone had a great holiday season and New Year and now we all get back to the daily workday and 2017 projects.

I spent a lot of my first year in 2015 assessing where we were as a city and assembling my staff.  In 2016, we started with a concept of rebuilding Middletown to sustainable revenue levels where every year we have the funding available to pave our streets, fix our parks and offer a great quality of life.  We mapped out how many additional families and jobs it might take to reach that sustainable revenue level.

Now it’s time to turn the concept into an action plan.  2017 will see the creation of a new Master Plan for the city.  The last Master Plan was completed in 2005.  It was a very thorough document that listed a lot of great concepts and ideas.   The document also had several fatal problems.

First, City Council and staff never really adopted the 2005 Master Plan as the vision for the city.  We didn’t budget and plan using that document.  It often sat on the shelf in all of our offices as something aspirational but not practical and real.

Second, the recession made the Master Plan almost completely obsolete.  As we got into 2008-2009, budget revenues dried up, the city went into lay-off mode, capital projects stalled, and any aspirational goals were abandoned in an attempt to minimize disruption to core public safety and other services.  Even if it was a good plan, the recession took away so much of our revenues that there was nothing left to implement good new ideas for the city.

The recession is over.  Income tax revenues were at the highest level in a couple decades in 2016.  So now is the time to move us forward again.

This Master Plan is going to be different from the previous  plan.  The 2005 plan was aspirational.  Pie in the sky ideas.   This plan is designed to be much more practical and operational in nature.

We know about what revenue levels we need to take care of city operations in a sustainable way.  We know about how many jobs and/or new families it will take to reach that level.  This plan is first and foremost, the plan to gain those jobs and families to reach our required revenue levels.

I’m going to challenge the city in a way that hasn’t been done in recent memory.  I’m going to not only ask the hard questions, but offer possible solutions to decade old problems.  You’ll like some of it.  You won’t like other parts of it.  My only request is that if you hate some piece of what I’m doing, tell me why, but also offer an alternative.  Part of our problems in the past have stemmed from seeing hard problems and just giving up instead of pushing through them.  I’d rather fight over how to fix it than ignore it and watch it continue. It’s easy to just bash and complain, but that doesn’t keep us moving forward.  And it’s well past time for all of us to move forward together and finish fixing this city.

We’ll start the new master  plan with the sustainable revenue framework I’ve been talking about for over a year now.  On top of that, we’ll add in the Community Visioning project completed by the Community Building Institute and Middletown Moving Forward.  The sustainable framework is what we need.  The community visioning is what we want as a community.

As the visioning document is completed,  CBI, MMF and I will be rolling out the concepts captured in that document to ask the question, “Did we get it right?”   “What, if anything, is still missing?”  As we discuss the results, I’ll take this document to City Council and ask, “Do you believe in the concepts brought forward in the Community Visioning process and are you ready to adopt them in full or in part as part of the policy of the city?”

If the answer is yes, then the famework and the visioning will flavor the rest of the planning process.  As we look at economic development, housing, etc., we’ll want to make sure that each piece is consistent with the sustainable framework and the community’s vision of what Middletown should be.  Ideally, we’ll create a document that is consistent throughout with the needs and wants of our residents.   Housing choices will be consistent with adding families and jobs.  Transportation choices will be consistent with the community’s vision for pedestrian, bicycle, automobile and mass transit opportunities throughout the city.  And so on.

As we look at each piece of the puzzle, we’ll be rolling them out to the public, discussing them, and eventually seeking Council support that they are ready to adopt each piece as the policy of the city.  Future budgets and capital projects should reflect those goals.

If you follow this blog, you’re going to hear from me a lot this year.  Welcome to 2017!

 

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What A City View Drop Down
MUSA Resident
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Joined: Nov 06 2009
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote What A City Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Jan 10 2017 at 1:02pm
Ok Mr. Adkins. You wrote it and here is the first of what I hope is a large amount of feedback on your article.

Mr. Adkins:
"we have the funding available to pave our streets, fix our parks and offer a great quality of life"

If you read back through this forum, you will notice a great deal of discussion related to this statement. We mentioned these things before it was on your radar, but, as usual, the previous administrations ignored our comments. Hard to participate if it is a one way street with no response from your city government. We have been labeled as malcontents for going against the city doctrine and not believing all that is shoveled. Contrary to popular belief from the kool-aid drinkers, not all agree with all that happens in this city.

Mr. Adkins:
"It often sat on the shelf in all of our offices as something aspirational but not practical and real."

So, it was an exercise in futility from day one and only more lip service to the people. Why waste the time and taxpayer money paying government workers to write this? More gov. waste.

Mr. Adkins:
"We know about what revenue levels we need to take care of city operations in a sustainable way. We know about how many jobs and/or new families it will take to reach that level. This plan is first and foremost, the plan to gain those jobs and families to reach our required revenue levels"

If you know this, then why, three paragraphs above, were you not prepared for any recessionary situations that occurred in 2008? Know how much you need to budget the household and plan on a certain percentage above that for any shortfalls. A well thought out budget always accounts for lean times/emergencies. Ask most families how they prepare for emergency situations. Do you borrow the money and pay on it for years to replace that heat pump or do you save and pay in full in anticipation of it being replaced?

Mr. Adkins:
"The community visioning is what we want as a community."

"As the visioning document is completed, CBI, MMF and I will be rolling out the concepts captured in that document to ask the question"

Let's see, you've asked the MMF, CBI, you and your government people to roll out some concepts, but I don't see where you have announced that the RESIDENTS were invited to participate. When will that happen? When will the city leaders actually acknowledge the existence of the people and give them a sayso in the direction of THEIR city? You do the same thing downtown. Has anyone asked the PEOPLE what they want for the downtown? NOPE. Never have. You have put millions of the people's money into the downtown at the bequest of a small faction of arts people and have not once asked the other 99% of the people what they wanted as you spent their money on resurrecting your little downtown area. Why have the people been excluded? Where is our representation on the spending of our money? Big mistake Mr. Adkins.

Mr. Adkins:
"As we look at economic development, housing, etc., we’ll want to make sure that each piece is consistent with the sustainable framework and the community’s vision of what Middletown should be."

This will be a difficult task for the city to overcome. Housing, economic development. image and reputation have all been severely hurt by the city government decisions in the last decade or two. When the city decided to HUD saturate the housing scene vouchers and along with that attracted some "undesirables" to town, creating more crime (and made no attempt to replace the AK Steel and paper mill jobs lost by the way), it brought to an end, any remaining positive reputation this city ever had. Because of this action, we are now considered a lower class "ghetto---ish" non-desirable place and certainly not to be considered a place to reside. The low performing schools just add to the tarnished reputation too. No one wants to educate their kids in this school system anymore. It has been a collaborative effort between the city and the schools in bringing the city to it's knees the last four decades.

Mr. Adkins:
"Ideally, we’ll create a document that is consistent throughout with the needs and wants of our residents"

Gotta include us first.

Mr. Adkins:
"My only request is that if you hate some piece of what I’m doing, tell me why, but also offer an alternative"

Ok, you asked for alternatives....

1. Stop forcing the downtown down our throats by insisting it will succeed and plowing millions into a black hole. Take the money and divert it to the streets and the basics. You will serve more people that way rather than plowing the money into a downtown most don't care about.
2. Clean up the city and rid it of the HUD housing, the low income welcoming program and work on the PR to reinstate the hard working blue collar theme of respectability the city once had. We have gone from middle class to lower class in image, demographics and in the attraction of decent people to this town. Gotta change that first to have a prayer of rebuilding a respectable resident base. Let the undesirables filter back to the ghettos or wherever they came from.
3. Put the econ. dev. dept to work and get some decent paying jobs in here. Good job on AK Research opportunities. Need many more like that. (How many potential employees will live in and pay taxes in Middletown by the way?) You have MUM, Butler Tech and CS in place to train a workforce now. That was the complaint earlier......IE, the city didn't have an educated workforce.
Mr. Adkins:
"As we look at each piece of the puzzle, we’ll be rolling them out to the public, discussing them, and eventually seeking Council support"

Will there actually be a time when the public will be able to have their sayso? Or, will it be decided by those who always decide and rushed to council for that rubber stamp approval as in the past or will you give us a chance to participate? If not, you're wasting our time by reading your article.      

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Analytical View Drop Down
MUSA Resident
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Joined: Nov 19 2015
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Points: 206
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Analytical Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Jan 10 2017 at 4:04pm
Senior City Staff:  You might consider examining Youngstown and how they are now utilizing seventeen AmeriCorps participants to (remove trash/mow vacant lots), (board-up/enhance vacant building exteriors), etc.  As noted previously, there are additional funding sources available to MINIMIZE THE HIT ON "GENERAL FUND" EXPENDITURES, ETC.

Here's hoping that One Donham Plaza staff with City Council support can be more creative in adopting/implementing relevant, cost-effective policies and plans for vulnerable lower-income areas and to better leverage other public/private capital.  Your actions and the "impact" of the past seven years have been well documented on this blog.
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Analytical View Drop Down
MUSA Resident
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Analytical Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Jan 10 2017 at 10:45pm
Today's issue of the MJ contains a noteworthy read about land banking in Butler County plus the City of Middletown's plans for expanded demolition of (presumably) obsolete housing stock.  Said dwellings are (presumably) beyond the economic feasibility of rehabilitation (as per city staff).

Mr. Atkins notes many residential demolitions would be occurring over the next five to ten years.  The questions for him are simple:  1) what productive/market realistic reuse plans and new funding (if any) are available for construction on these lots; and,  2) how many additional dollars are necessary to mow these properties/keep them free of dumped trash?  Will more GENERAL FUND capital be required annually maintain the growing inventory of these properties?
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Douglas Adkins View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Douglas Adkins Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Jan 11 2017 at 9:39am
Nelson,

We've worked with AmeriCorp for the past several years in Middletown, assisting lower income families with maintenance, trash removal and home repairs. Been doing it for several years, along with many other programs that cost the General Fund nothing....

Berachah Church, Earth Day with Keep Middletown Beautiful, SELF and Group Work Camps are just some of the free efforts provided with our non-profit partners.
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Douglas Adkins View Drop Down
MUSA Resident
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Douglas Adkins Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Jan 11 2017 at 9:40am
What a City,

You've hit on about 10 different areas. I'll try to start responding as I have time to each one individually. It gets confusing (at least to me) when we try to handle too many issues in one post.

Doug
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spiderjohn View Drop Down
Prominent MUSA Citizen
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote spiderjohn Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Jan 11 2017 at 11:51am
Just make it work for all of us, mr.A
And without tax /fee increases
We will all be incredibly grateful
Be firm, and thick-skinned and please continue to listen
I am confident that u can do all the above
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