~ State of the City Address ~
In the last four years we have established Johnstown City government as an efficient, thoughtful and productive entity. This is primarily because of the wealth of experience and expertise found in our city workforce, recognition of common goals and the willingness to preserve the values and history of our city. I would like the Johnstown City employees to know that the council and I truly appreciate their dedication and skill when performing their jobs well despite daily obstacles.
Our exceptional ability to respond to the needs of the community is also because of council members who are committed to public service, always maintain a high level of respect for diverse thought and opinions and who have repeatedly displayed the courage to make tough decisions. They have represented their constituents well and have clearly established themselves as effective and productive legislators in an era where governmental challenges are of greater magnitude and complexity.
The many, many volunteers who serve on our city boards and committees must also be recognized and commended. These volunteers freely give countless hours of their personal time to ensure that our city continues to be a comfortable and welcoming environment for individuals, families and businesses.
We are the caretakers of one of the most valued commodities in America today. The City of Johnstown provides a quality of life that retains a clear set of fundamental values and lifestyle that our modern day culture in many ways clashes with on a daily basis. We aren’t always able to satisfy all of the requests made by individuals but most of the time we reflect exactly what our citizens appreciate and value. At a very fundamental level, we are successfully maintaining the health and safety of the community and this will continue to be our number one priority.
Although we are solvent today, we must be mindful of very likely prolonged economic challenges. A budget for any given year must be viewed as just one in a continuum of many years. Please be assured that we are continually asking ourselves what we can do today to continue to maintain a high level of service at an affordable tax rate for 2010 but also for several years in the future. Much of the fiscal planning and implementation is managed by our city treasurer Mike Gifford who works tirelessly to meet the needs of our citizens but also for each employee. I offer my sincere thanks to Mike for his dedication and skill.
In order to continue to stabilize our tax rate for the future, we must find ways to become even more efficient and encourage economic growth. However, the growth should never be random or compete against already established areas of success. Every city department already works in a variety of ways with numerous other municipalities, but we will continue to search for additional shared services without jeopardizing Johnstown’s fiscal stability.
Specific goals for this year include finalization of the new zoning laws, significant revision of city ordinances, establishment of a new plumbing and electrical board, encouraging smart growth and sustaining a regular purchase plan for equipment. We will continue to do foreclosures in a systematic and timely fashion in order to place the various properties back on the tax role and continue to attack blight and general city cleanup.
We are now in the final phases of implementing the goals of several grants amounting to over three million dollars. Grant funding will help us replace a bridge, pave streets, fund repairs to several owner occupied houses and of course purchase the much anticipated fire truck. We will also continue to apply grant monies to the rail trail, Brownfields cleanup and hopefully make use of the Restore New York award for housing on a reclaimed manufacturing site.
I would like to offer special thanks and commend the City Water Board for their work on the Maylender tank project and the Sewer Board for their plant upgrades. We all use these pieces of our infrastructure each day and are generally not aware of the immense amount of work that goes into maintaining these import aspects of our community.
I look forward to joining this year’s movement to celebrate the spirit of women’s history and its influence on Johnstown’s history. In March, banners funded by citizen donations will be hung in our downtown area to celebrate Women’s Equality, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and the right to vote. We also look forward to the city’s inclusion in the National Park’s recognition of the trail of women’s suffrage and history.
As stated in the last election cycle, I will continue to facilitate government efficiency, professionalism in office, beautification efforts, and to instill community pride.
It continues to be an honor to serve as Johnstown’s Mayor and my family and I wish all of you the very best for the coming year.
Sarah J Slingerland