~State of the
I am pleased to report today, this first day of 2008, that the City of Johnstown is operating efficiently and effectively and is now nicely positioning itself for managed future growth.
We are fiscally sound and with careful and thoughtful planning, I anticipate continued stabilization of our tax rate. The 2008 budget will meet the needs of each department and will maintain, and in many cases, enhance the level of service our taxpayers have come to enjoy and certainly deserve. A single year budget must be viewed as one piece in a long continuum of fiscal management and I believe the 2008 Johnstown budget meets this criterion. It should also be noted that our 1.7 % decrease in the tax rate for 2008 brings us to a level we have not experienced since the year 2000.
My sincere thanks to Treasurer Mike Gifford and the Council for this year’s budget development.
Furthermore, we have a fully operational workforce headed by competent and skilled department heads. I am confident that no matter what the challenges are for the coming year, our departments have well established lines of communication and are working with a sincere and genuine team effort. Our present management organization will enable us to solve the toughest of problems.
With our emerging new Comprehensive Plan soon to be followed by a revised set of zoning laws, we will ensure viable and efficient growth for the City for many decades. These two foundation documents will come to fruition as a result of council person Chris Foss’ leadership and a very dedicated committee of volunteers.
In 2008 we will continue to work aggressively with the demolition of several unsightly buildings, particularly old industrial structures. This activity, although cumbersome and costly, will add immensely to our continued beautification efforts.
Another ongoing challenge for the City will be sustaining a vibrant downtown. By maintaining a business friendly environment and working in coordination with the Johnstown Downtown Business Association, I am hopeful we can create an even better atmosphere conducive to living, working and shopping in the Main Street area.
I believe a critical issue for the future will concern regional growth and defining Johnstown’s role in this movement. It is of utmost importance that we recognize the need for expansion, but be continually vigilant to protect our assets and the fiscal underpinning of the city so as not to jeopardize our financial stability. Necessary, major infrastructure capital projects will be very costly and we cannot be irresponsible about ensuring our ability to finance these initiatives as needed.
As Mayor of the City of Johnstown, I am more than willing to engage in discussion with any and all public officials to work toward the end goal of providing the best possible service levels for the most number of people.
I believe, however, carved out of the future we must find creative ways to sustain the elements of Johnstown that people like best. People gravitate toward Johnstown because of its great sense of community and “small town” feel. They like our downtown ambience, the welcoming atmosphere at our public library and senior center, feeling safe and knowing that there is a responsive government. They feel a sense of comfort when they contact our City Assessor, City Clerk, the Treasure’s office, the City Engineer or Police and Fire Departments without standing in line or dealing with endless and often meaningless bureaucracy. Personalized responses and immediate answers are highly valued by our citizens and a small city like Johnstown can allow each and every citizen easy government access..
I would especially like to thank the 2007 Council for their encouraging words, sound advice and patience with the process of government. Johnstown is so very lucky to have such dedicated elected officials who are willing to often make tough and sometimes unpopular decisions.
As many of you already know, Johnstown will be celebrating its 250th birthday this year. 1758 marks the time when Sir William Johnson began clearing the land for his baronial home. How could he not have been attracted to this area’s natural beauty and abundance of natural resources?
Highlights for the year include a kickoff reception on January 20, tours of historical homes and buildings, recognition of the Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Knox family contributions to Johnstown and of course one of Ruth White’s famous parades on September 13.
Please join us in celebrating our rich heritage and traditions throughout our 250th anniversary year.