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City Manager's Blog -- 2018 Preview

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MUSA Citizen
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    Posted: Dec 21 2017 at 11:15am

2018 Preview

So what can you expect from your city government in 2018?

During the first three years as your City Manager, I’ve attempted to start stabilizing our core services including Public Safety, Economic Development, and Water and Sewer Upgrades. We’ve added Police Officers, Firefighters and Economic Development staff to better execute in those departments on a daily basis.

As we move into 2018, the focus will broaden. The City will complete its first Master Plan since 2005. We have already completed Community Visioning, a new Downtown Master Plan, completely rewritten our Zoning Code and completed a housing study identifying opportunities and threats to our housing stock. In 2018, we’ll combine those individual parts and complete a new strategic Plan for the municipal Airport, update our Fire Department with a new study on staffing and fire station locations to best serve the public, identify housing policies that will improve our housing stock, and finally start a full review of how we move people in this city through pedestrian walking, bicycle, automobile and public transit services.

All of this will be framed with two underlying themes. First, we want to incorporate our community visioning into each piece. We know what we can do… how did you as a community want us to handle each piece of city services into the future? Second, we’ve always been good at building stuff, but we haven’t always done a great job of maintaining the nice things we add to the city.  As we talk about adding things like Recreation back to the budget, my goal is to do it responsibly and in a way that we believe is sustainable into the future.  If we can’t maintain it, then we can’t afford it yet.

There are two immediate changes coming in 2018 that we believe we can afford now.  First, 2018 will include an Animal Control Officer back in the budget for the first time in 10 years. We have relied on the county for this service for the last decade and now that revenues will support it, it’s time to start working on our feral cats and other animal issues.

Second, we’re adding staff to the Health Department. As of January 1, 2018, the Health Department will be open through lunch and all day on Friday.

To make the most of the valuable tax dollars that you give us, we are changing our payroll system. Any employees hired after January 1, 2018 will be on a new payroll system. In the current existing payroll system (which has been in place for over 30 years), employees get automatic increases each year for 7 years and then top out at the peak salary for whatever position they hold. Under the new system, those automatic increases are spread out over more years, meaning that city employees will start to get increases more in line with the private sector. As people leave and retire, any replacement employees will also be placed into the new program. We believe that this will save hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars after 5 years of implementation.

You’ll see further upgrades to the I-75 interchange area as we continue beautification efforts on the medians. As revenues allow, we’ll start moving down State Route 122 and upgrade the median landscaping throughout the city in future years.

We currently spend about $700,000 a year on street light electricity. One of the suggestions that I made to City Council back in 2014 was to look at charging the residents for that service. Most Ohio communities already have a monthly charge on the water bill for street light electricity. We’ve put that concept on hold, however, as we will be converting all of the city street lights to LED starting in 2018. This is expected to save us hundreds of thousands of dollars in electric costs each year. If I can pay less for electric, then that savings can be reinvested in roads and other infrastructure improvements without costing residents another penny.

In 2017, the Health Department completed a Community Health Assessment of Middletown.  As we move into 2018, I want to start exploring that report along with our EMS data and look at plans and programs that would improve the overall health of our residents.

Finally, to develop the best housing policies for the city moving forward, we not only have to do what is best for the city overall, but we have to understand the impacts of the best practices on the most disadvantaged in our community. What will any contemplated changes do to fixed income seniors, the poor and minority residents?

To be successful, we’ll need to hear their voices and understand their concerns. For me to be successful in changing our housing policies, we simply must address diversity and inclusion. Middletown, like many other cities, is often a very segregated city, between the haves and the have-nots, and at times between the white majority and our minority Latino and African American populations. Working together with ALL interested and impacted parties on housing issues gives everyone a chance to learn to trust each other a little more and to work towards common goals.

To my friends in the African American community, I will continue to put my hand out in friendship and will continue to truthfully tell you what I am trying to do and why I am trying to do it. That won’t change. We won’t always agree, but I hope that at some point you’ll believe that I’m sincere in my intention to improve your neighborhoods and that you will join me collectively to improve the city.

You want better, safe neighborhoods. I want a viable housing stock that attracts families to Middletown and improves property values throughout the city. It seems to me as though those goals are common and mutually inclusive. It should be a win/win situation. Let’s work together in 2018 to make sure that is what happens.

City Council gave me a goal three years ago of turning the City back towards prosperity without raising taxes. What that effectively means is that we have to design a profitable government that not only maintains existing services, but also generates enough revenue to start completing deferred maintenance on our roads, parks, neighborhoods and city buildings. It’s a tough job that most days I love.

I hope that you’re happy with the direction that the city is moving. Please always feel free to send us comments on things we could improve or good things you’ve seen in other cities that might benefit Middletown.

With Christmas coming next week, this will be my last blog post for the year.  I wish you all a Merry Christmas from my family to yours.  Enjoy the holidays and I’ll see you all in 2018!

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote VietVet Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Dec 21 2017 at 1:06pm
1st/2nd paragraphs- all good news

"We know what we can do… how did you as a community want us to handle each piece of city services into the future?"

You're actually asking the people what they want here?.....but will you listen and comply with those wants?

"....my goal is to do it responsibly and in a way that we believe is sustainable into the future."

First time for everything I guess.

"Second, we’re adding staff to the Health Department. As of January 1, 2018, the Health Department will be open through lunch and all day on Friday."

Current staff doesn't support these hours? All go to lunch at the same time and no one shows on Fridays? Why?

"....employees get automatic increases each year for 7 years and then top out at the peak salary for whatever position they hold"

Why do public employees get "automatic raises" for 7 years"? Where is the merit raise system that rewards performers? What is the stimulus to perform under your current system? If the employee knows they are getting an automatic raise, why would they try any harder? Private sector jobs do not work this way.

"We believe that this will save hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars after 5 years of implementation."

Good!!! Then you can reduce the dam water and sewer rates you have gouged us with since you will, in your own words, show some savings as you state.

"You’ll see further upgrades to the I-75 interchange area as we continue beautification efforts on the medians. As revenues allow, we’ll start moving down State Route 122 and upgrade the median landscaping throughout the city in future years.'

Looks decent so far Mr. Adkins. The entrance to Middletown is looking more respectable than in the past. Still needs some work across the ramp from the new Kettering site. Like the info boards by Bobby Evans and across from the Kettering site.

"One of the suggestions that I made to City Council back in 2014 was to look at charging the residents for that service."

Ok, then back off the water and sewer rates if you want to do this. We can only afford so much in a low income community. How about asking industry and businesses to pay more while you're at it. Retirees income only goes so far.

"As we move into 2018, I want to start exploring that report along with our EMS data and look at plans and programs that would improve the overall health of our residents.'

VERY welcomed by us in our situation. The medical services in this town are top notch here. One of the few positives that remain from the better times.

".....we not only have to do what is best for the city overall"

Exactly....then why the overwhelming focus on the downtown if you realize the idea of dealing with the city OVERALL? The city OVERALL has been neglected while the downtown is given full effort. Why?

"To be successful, we’ll need to hear their voices and understand their concerns."

But will you?

"Middletown, like many other cities, is often a very segregated city, between the haves and the have-nots, and at times between the white majority and our minority Latino and African American populations'

Nothing new here. Been that way since the 50's as I remember the city. Areas of the city have always been defined by race but that is slowly changing as minorities are branching out into once white only neighborhoods. Minority migration is moving east and north from the west and south ends. Middletown is becoming racially diversified through natural progression. It is happening without government intrusion nor special programs set up by government that would only be screwed up as a result. Just let it happen as it is now.

"I want a viable housing stock that attracts families to Middletown and improves property values throughout the city"

Reword this to say....."I want a viable housing stock that attracts QUALITY families to Middletown and, because of past practices of current and past administrators, who have lowered the bar inviting lower quality residents to the city, which caused a poor image and an unappealing housing market, we need to improve property values throughout the city"

"City Council gave me a goal three years ago of turning the City back towards prosperity without raising taxes"

But you have in the form of higher sewer and water rates and raised the income tax from 1.5% to 1.75% with occasional discussion of 2.00%. You also, in a statement made above, are thinking of asking the people to pay for street lights which is a form of taxation. These are things that contradict this statement. Mr.Adkins, you have already, in essence, raised taxes on the people.

"I hope that you’re happy with the direction that the city is moving"

In some areas....yes. In other areas....no.

"Please always feel free to send us comments on things we could improve or good things you’ve seen in other cities that might benefit Middletown."

Will you actually read them? Will you take them under advisement or trash them upon receipt? Are you open minded enough to accept the criticism?






I'm so proud of my hometown and what it has become. Recall 'em all. Let's start over.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote wannaknow Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Feb 13 2018 at 5:49am
I read an article that the State of Ohio filed charges against the City of Middletown on 2/9/2018  for polluting our waterways by dumping sewage into the Miami River since 2009 The fines are levied for each day since then at a cost of thousands per day. Yes this could have been started by those previously in charge but it is an annual thing so we have nine years of neglect. The suit also said Middletown had failed to do annual reports. Who is responsible for this? We depend on those in power to take care of what's necessary. How safe is our drinking water? This cost should not be passed to the taxpayers, we paid for the sewage treatment. No rewards for a job done less than perfect.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote middletownscouter Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Feb 13 2018 at 7:36am
Looks like there was a lawsuit and almost immediately a settlement for $50k.  By no means thousands per day over the better part of ten years, but still unacceptable to have the situation in the first place.

https://www.courthousenews.com/deal-with-feds-requires-ohio-city-to-fix-sewer-system/

Deal With Feds Requires Ohio City to Fix Sewer System
February 12, 2018 KEVIN KOENINGER
CINCINNATI (CN) – A southwestern Ohio city reached a settlement with the state and federal government on Friday over claims that it has illegally discharged untreated sewage into the Great Miami River for a decade.

A federal lawsuit filed Friday in Cincinnati federal court alleges Middletown, Ohio, repeatedly violated its National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permits by discharging illegal amounts of chlorine, ammonia, and fecal bacteria from its wastewater treatment plant into the river since 2008.

The plant and its collection system serve approximately 52,000 people and consist of over 342 miles of pipe.

Ohio and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency also claim the city discharged sewage during “times that were not ‘wet weather periods,’” another violation of its permits, and that its discharge of chemicals from its eight sewer overflow locations endangered local residents and wildlife and exposed them to dangerous bacteria.

The parties filed a consent decree Friday, in which Middletown admitted no wrongdoing but agreed to replace or repair substantial portions of its sewer pipes to comply with the Clean Water Act.

Middletown also agreed to pay a civil penalty of $55,000, comprised of $27,500 each for the state and federal governments.

EPA Regional Administrator Cathy Stepp said the agency “is committed to keeping raw sewage out of our local waterways and communities.”

“Today’s settlement will result in significant infrastructure improvements that will protect water quality and human health,” she said in a statement.

Neither the Ohio attorney general’s office nor the city of Middletown immediately responded Monday to requests for comment.

EPA attorney Nicholas McDaniel filed the suit on behalf of the U.S. government and Ohio.


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Analytical Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Feb 13 2018 at 8:55am

Federal government gives final approval

on Middletown’s $269M sewer plan

 2:25 p.m Monday, Feb. 12, 2018  Local News


This is the aeration system where biological activity takes place at the Middletown Wastewater Treatment Plant on Oxford State Road Thursday, Oct. 6. Middletown City Manager Doug Adkins is recommending a 7.5 percent water-rate increase and a 15 percent sewer-rate increase in 2017, along with a 75-cent-per-month trash pickup increase next year. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF

MIDDLETOWN


The U.S. Department of Justice, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Ohio Environmental Protection Agency announced an agreement with the city of Middletown on a consent decree under the Clean Water Act to address discharges of untreated sewage into the Great Miami River and Hydraulic Canal.

The settlement was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio. Middletown City Council approved the agreement in late December.


City Manager Doug Adkins declined to comment on Monday’s announcement by the federal government.

According to the EPA, the city currently discharges millions of gallons of untreated sewage each year from its sewer system during and after rain events through its eight “combined sewer overflow” outfalls. Untreated sewage can contain disease-causing bacteria, viruses and parasites, as well as pollutants that can harm aquatic life.

Under the new agreement, the city will construct storage basins and other improvements to its sewer system and sewage treatment plant over the next 25 years that will substantially reduce the frequency and volume of its untreated sewer overflows. The city estimates this work will cost about $269 million. Additionally, the city will pay a penalty of $55,000 and spend $200,000 on a project in the canal to protect aquatic life from contaminated sediments.

MORE: Middletown raising sewer rates in advance of mandatory improvements

“EPA is committed to keeping raw sewage out of our local waterways and communities,” said EPA Regional Administrator Cathy Stepp. “Today’s settlement will result in significant infrastructure improvements that will protect water quality and human health.”

“Today’s agreement will lead to water quality improvements that will benefit local communities along this important river corridor,” Ohio EPA Director Craig W. Butler said. “Ohio EPA is ready to help Middletown finance these projects through our low-interest loan program.”

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote VietVet Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Feb 13 2018 at 9:42am
Naw, you have to think like the city does.......

Harmful bacteria

Releases of fecal matter into the river

Questionable water for Middletown residents

It's ok...More fines paid to the EPA of 55 grand to add to the 350 grand years ago for the release of silt into the river without permission from the Army Corps of Engineers during the "Lake Middletown" cluster attempt.

All, not important to the city

What is really important is the demolishing of buildings and leaving vacant lots as a result, and, of course, the primary focus for years......

Giving friends of city hall taxpayer money to redevelop, then ignore the contract stipulations and renege on paying the taxes on the buildings the city gave the clowns.

Downtown revitalization. Might be the most important focus to those in city hall. Everything else is a distant second.

And finally, the answer to all the problems the city leadership has created........MORE TAXES TO PAY FOR THEIR FINES. The story tells us that Adkins wants to tax us again on water, sewage and garbage pickup. He plays and we pay.

You gotta go Adkins and now. You are a liability for this city. Council only adds to the liability as well. Both make one bad decision after another racking up unneeded monetary fines for not following the rules. Incompetence at it's best.

There you go. Now, you're on the same line of thinking as the city leaders are.

I'm so proud of my hometown and what it has become. Recall 'em all. Let's start over.
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MattR View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote MattR Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Feb 15 2018 at 9:36am
Our city manager says this fine and black eye is a "win-win".  Time for another raise and sweetened benefits from council or you'll lose this gem.
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