A Positive, Forward-looking Vision
Important goals for our administration:
Positive, People Focused Government
- Each quarter a “Progress Report” is issued to let our citizens know about the efforts being made to focus on our Infrastructure, and provide great service to our community. My goal is regardless of status, all citizens and businesses will be treated fairly and consistently.
- The income statements have been posted on the Internet for all revenue generating departments (enterprise funds).
- A garbage hauler has confessed to fraud, and a settlement favorable to the City has been reached.
- The City reduced the residential garbage rates by eight percent, effective October 2012 and the city has built a new $4.23m “Landfill citizen campus” and paid for it in cash.
- Raffles are now administratively approved by the City Attorney’s office. For years, Raffles were approved by the Mayor and City Council. In 2014, 34 raffles were administratively approved, which provides much better customer service.
- Event Permits (for items such as minor street closures and parking space closures for special events) were once ALL approved by the Mayor and City Council. Last year, 71 of the 90 event permits were approved administratively by our Chief of Police. Only the big permits (such as Parade of Lights and Summer Nights) are now coming to the Mayor/Council.
Infrastructure and focusing on existing Streets and Utility needs
- In 2012, the City Council unanimously approved the issuance of a $22.9 Sales Tax bond to help fix some of our aging streets over the next few years.
- In 2013, nearly $33m was allocated on infrastructure needs, and that doesn’t even include the $40 Jackson Spring bond (for a Water Treatment plant and transmission lines
- In 2014, more than $36m is projected to be spent on infrastructure needs.
- In 2015, approx $32m will be spent on infrastructure needs, not including the large investment of State DOT in our infrastructure (IE Mt. Rushmore Rd)
- In 2015, the new Airport Water Line is projected to be completed, which will A) provide much needed fire-flow to our airport B) provide water to some neighborhoods in Rapid Valley which have water issues (Valley View, Mesa and Terra Cotta) C) Once completed, work will then begin on a new waterline to our Wastewater treatment plant. Hydrants were installed at our Wastewater treatment plant in the early 2000’s and there are bags on the fire hydrants.
Jobs, Jobs, Jobs — Focusing on the community by cutting red tape and encouraging progress
City Hall must facilitate growth and not stand in the way. I am working to bring a renewed focus on economic development to the Mayor’s office. Regulation is necessary, but should be consistent across city government.
- I am focused on finding ways to say yes to growth and new business, while also focus on encouraging and supporting our existing businesses
- We are slashing the red tape to encourage economic development, and to make the process easier for our citizens, businesses and employees. In 2011, we had more than 80 committees. We now have about half that. [See 1/11/13 RCJ article]
- We have rewritten many of our codes and procedures to streamline our processes while will ensuring public safety and accountability to our citizens.
- As of September 2011, 2nd Floor at City Hall is open until 5 PM, instead of 4 PM.
- Certified mailings were once used for all the planning and zoning notifications to citizens. This was maddening for people to have to wait in line for an hour at the post office for their mailing only to find out the hearing had passed them by because they didn’t have a chance to get to the post office a week earlier. We now use first class mailings, and the mailings are assembled by the applicant, and then mailed by city staff to ensure people are properly notified. This increases access to city government for our citizens, while reducing unnecessary costs for developers and business.
Reforming the Budget process
- I have never pledged never to raise taxes, but I have and continue to promise to examine every tax increase with great scrutiny. Whenever possible, economic growth should fuel property tax relief. I do recognize costs go up as the city grows, but there are times where the budget can still be balanced without increasing taxes. For the 2013 budget, the combination of 9 expiring Tax Increment Financing Districts, and good sales and property tax growth (due to redevelopment, economic development, annexations and rezoning) made it unnecessary to increase property taxes by taking the CPI (Consumer Price Index increase). Our exciting economic growth in Rapid City allowed us to increase the General Fund budget significantly to cover rising costs, while keeping your taxes from going up. In Sept 2012, I vetoed an attempt to take the CPI property tax increase for 2013.
City Budget 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 General Fund $ 50,040,884 $ 47,414,778 $ 47,804,275 $ 50,827,725 $ 53,563,938 $ 58,009,945 Enterprise Funds $ 98,817,205 $ 115,851,428 $ 90,738,021 $ 86,981,720 $ 99,952,627 $ 90,727,164 Total $ 148,858,089 $ 163,266,206 $ 138,542,296 $ 137,809,445 $ 153,516,565 $ 148,737,109
- Resolution 2012-004 was passed unanimously in 2012 and requires a separate “resolution to amend the budget” before increasing your property taxes (also known as taking the CPI). So instead of a tax increase being buried in the budget, a separate resolution to amend the budget to add in the tax increase is now required. The resolution to amend doesn’t go into effect until 20 days beyond the date of publication (items are published about 13 days after a council action). So in addition to this increasing transparency, it also means a property tax increase resolution can now be more easily referred to a public vote.
- The city budget used to be hundreds of pages long and was filled with meaningless numbers. It is now about 170 pages and includes data, trends and information to help the council and community understand the budget.
- We have implemented four ordinances to ensure financial accountability and transparency