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Column: Columbus making strides to be best of its size


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With the public’s direction and resources, the city of Columbus leadership and staff have made significant strides toward advancing our vision “to be the very best community of its size in the country.”

Annual reports for each city department are now available on our website, columbus.in.gov. A few highlights of the progress:

Roads

For years, Columbus has underinvested in maintaining its roads. Last year we reversed this trend and:

Invested $4 million in rebuilding and repaving existing roads, completing the most significant road repair and repaving project in the city’s history, amounting to more than the previous seven years combined.

Reconstructed Road 200S and began the reconstruction of Carr Hill Road, two old county roads that are now heavily traveled collector streets.

Public Safety

In the area of public safety we:

Unveiled the first Flood Risk Management Plan on the fifth anniversary of the 2008 flood. It is considered the best in the state and the model for other communities. We can now give you notice of flooding hours to days in advance and efficiently respond and evacuate accordingly to save lives and personal possessions. We’ve trained four times in mock exercises already. Never again will we be unprepared.

Put more police officers on the street and began concentrated community policing. Took a bite out of property crime and got tougher on drugs by increasing drug-related arrests by 37 percent.

In partnership with the school corporation, dedicated police officers in the schools to improve safety and develop healthy relationships with students.

Began a new partnership with Columbus Regional Health for ambulance service. Ambulances now arrive on scene in less than nine minutes 96 percent of the time, greatly exceeding our goal of 90 percent, without the nearly $1 million annual tax subsidy of the past.

Deployed an emergency notification system that sends alerts to city and county residents by voice mail, text messages and emails during emergencies.

The Snow Force battled more than twice the average snowfall this winter. Snowplow operators responded to 20 storms and did an outstanding job keeping our streets clear and safe.

Jobs

Employment in Columbus hit an all-time high last year.

Additionally, we, encouraged industrial expansions that will add up to 500 jobs at Cummins’ Columbus Engine Plant and more than 300 additional jobs at other local manufacturers.

Parks facilities

We invested more than $4 million to preserve and improve our existing parks facilities, including:

$2 million to update Hamilton Center, including replacing the 55-year-old roof and upgrading the interior facilities.

More than $600,000 to improve four neighborhood parks, transforming them into inviting, safe and accessible places for our kids to play.

Nearly $600,000 to preserve Donner Center, to be completed this year.

Neighborhood revitalization

During the past year, we:

Substantially improved conditions in our most distressed neighborhoods through regular neighborhood meetings, community policing, cleanup projects and code enforcement.

Completed a revitalization plan for State Street.

Arts district

For arts in Columbus, we completed a comprehensive feasibility study on the renovation and re-purposing of the Crump Theatre.

Quality animal care

In animal care, we achieved a 100 percent adoption rate for healthy dogs for the second year in a row.

Good government

In an attempt to improve the workings of our government, we:

Disbanded the private corporation, Columbus Downtown Inc., and stopped spending taxpayer money behind closed doors.

Dramatically improved our transparency, accessibility and accountability with live video streaming and recording of public meetings online.

Passed a comprehensive code of ethical conduct for all officials and employees, including strict limits on gifts and conflicts of interest, ensuring we operate in your best interest — not in our personal interests.

Best of all, we’re making these improvements without trash fees, without new taxes, without additional debt and while strengthening our financial position.

I hope you’ll join us at the State of the City address for more details and an update on the progress of “Advance Columbus,” the strategic plan to achieve our vision. It’s at 6 p.m. April 15 at YES Cinema.

We have many successes to celebrate as a community.

Kristen Brown is the mayor of Columbus. She can be reached at kbrown@columbus.in.gov or 376-2500.

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