A lot happened in Fairfield this past year, but it will probably be most remembered as when the city’s fire department began its transition into an all-full-time unit.
The passage of a new 9.25-mill fire levy that replaced the two on the books and the receipt of a $3.41 million federal SAFER staffing grant, enabled the city to begin the department’s conversion into an all-full-time staff. There is a little more work to do before Fairfield has a truly career department, but they were able to hire 15 full-time firefighters in 2022.
“The biggest item citywide for 2022 was definitely the fire levy, and fixing the staffing,” said City Manager Scott Timmer, who was also one of four major hires in 2022.
Because of the inability to fill part-time firefighter positions ― a regional and national issue that wasn’t exclusive to Fairfield ― the city began the process to convert the Fairfield Fire Department from a combination to a career department. It was also aided by the state of Ohio, providing a $735,136 American Rescue Plan Act grant to pay for three full-time firefighters.
Though the fire service’s transition was arguably the most prominent change in 2022, the physical landscape changed a lot, which was led by the $200 million in investment around Fairfield, which “is above and beyond a record for us,” Timmer said.
The investment by the business community was led by the Koch Food expansion project, a $200 million-plus investment that will create at least 400 new jobs in 2023.
The investment was also due to the number of speculative warehouses, spurred by the Fairfield Commerce Center project that will bring hundreds of new jobs to the city.
“We were very happy with a lot of the things we got done,” Timmer said.
In the public utilities arena, the city worked on two major projects.
As of mid-December, Fairfield had nearly finished the installation of the smart water meter installation, a $6 million project that will transform how the city reads meters, and prior to the program, had a person go door-to-door reading water meters. Additionally, due to the age of some of the mechanical meters, it’s believed water usage was underreported.
The new smart meters could capture an addition $500,000 a year in revenue for the city.
The Koch Foods project is also a driver of the construction of Fairfield’s first new water tower in more than three decades. The project is on pause for the winter, but the Public Utilities Department started construction on the city’s sixth water tower, a 1.25-million-gallon water tower.
“Those are two huge projects for the city that will have lasting effects,” Timmer said.
Other notable accomplishments in 2022 include continued work on the city’s Street Sustainability Plan. The plan, which was initiated by former Public Works Director Dave Butsch in order to maintain the city’s streets, has been achieved over the past few years. Timmer said they continue to strive “to make sure our streets are at a level that our residents come to expect in Fairfield.”
Two notable honors went to the Fairfield Police Department and the city’s finance department.
The Fairfield Police Department received its seventh Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA) accreditation, and this year they received the agency’s excellence award. The assessment team, in its report to CALEA, wrote: “The Fairfield Police Department embraces being a professional organization and living up to law enforcement’s best practices.”
The Finance Department received the Government Finance Officers Association (GOFA) Distinguished Budget Presentation Award for the first time ever. This report details the City’s Annual Budget and reflects both guidelines established by the National Advisory Council on State and Local Budgeting and the Government Finance Officers Association’s best practices on budgeting.
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