“Residents and business people are always evaluating a wide range of factors when considering where to locate and invest their limited capital resources, including the condition of the surrounding area,” he said of Butler County’s third-largest city.
Fairfield is home to nearly 43,000 residents and more than 1,800 business establishments and nearly 28,000 employees.
“If they see the appearance of an area starting to decline or public infrastructure not being maintained, it could lead to a decision by potential new residents not to move there or for existing owners to not invest in their property,” Kathman said.
Most small public works projects and services are done by in-house crews as maintenance is needed year-round, said Mann. It’s also difficult to find contractors, he said.
“We’re just like everyone else in trying to find help, trying to hire people,” he said. “Everyone’s got more work than they do people. You have to wait in line just like everyone else.”
The minor projects and services Fairfield performs are similar to projects performed by many communities, Mann said. “And we’re like anybody, we like to think we’re doing it as well as most people, and we take pride in how we’re doing it,” he said.
“No one really notices when the grass is mowed, but people notice it when it’s not mowed. No one really notices when we’ve covered graffiti, but they notice when we haven’t covered graffiti,” he said. “All those things that we do, people notice when it doesn’t work, they don’t notice as much when it does work.”
The city could contract some of these services out, like crack sealing asphalt, but Mann said having in-house crews perform them helps save money. When Fairfield does the work, it costs the city a few thousand to rent the hot asphalt emulsion machine while contracting a crew ― which would be done for high-traffic roads ― could cost upwards of $25,000.
Crack sealing roads in the city of Fairfield is a practice that can make a road last longer. A few years after repaving, a road can develop cracks, which city officials say is important to fill with hot asphalt before debris and moister can collect causing problems for the road. Pictured is city employee Scott Ceplach filling in the cracks on Redwood Drive. MICHAEL D. PITMAN/STAFF
Credit: Michael D. Pitman
Credit: Michael D. Pitman
“After you’ve paved a road, the cracks will come back in a few years,” Mann said. “When they first come back you want to seal those up so they don’t get anything down in them that keeps them open permanently.”
Timeliness is important for these small projects and services, Mann said.
“We don’t get a lot of calls from people telling us what we need to do, or something hasn’t been done for weeks on end. You can never get to everything right away, ever, or please everyone all the time, but we do take service pretty seriously and try to stay on top of these things and it gives you an overall feel of ‘things are generally taken care of pretty well,’ ” he said.