Fix for Middletown roads may mean tax levy

One of the major challenges facing Middletown will be improving the condition of city streets, Middletown Mayor Larry Mulligan said during the annual state of the city speech. And a fix to satisy residents may mean a levy.

Mulligan proposed that council should consider placing a streets levy on the November 2019 ballot during his speech last week. He proposed a streets levy because it will take the city years to fix every street in Middletown with the costs now estimated at $160 million. About 40 percent of the city’s streets and roads are rated poor/very poor/failed, he said.

“While I respect the differences of opinions, the fact remains, our streets, overall, are not at a level that concerned citizens expect,” he said. “Comments I receive regularly center around the conditions of streets, potholes, sidewalks and other improvements.”

Mulligan said if enough voters are interested, there is the possibility of a citizen led ballot initiative for a dedicated road levy.

“That would require some work and effort, but given the state of Middletown’s roads, it would send a message to the community of its importance,” he said.

During his nearly 38-minute speech, Mulligan touched upon the opening of the $650 million NTE Middletown Energy Center, the $36 million Kettering Health Network Middletown facility and at the MADE Industrial Park where a 600,000 square-foot office and warehouse distribution center is already under construction.

He also spoke about continuing efforts to revitalize downtown Middletown; the new businesses that have opened and the upcoming renovation of the Goetz Tower; the ongoing development of the city’s new master plan that includes a updated downtown, airport, housing, transportation plans and the new land use/zoning code that was approved earlier this year; quality of life improvements such as the new River Center, parks, and July 4th celebration; workforce development and educational opportunities; and the settlement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency concerning the city’s sanitary sewers.

Mulligan praised the work of city staff and said City Manager Doug Adkins has stabilized the city’s core services including public safety, economic development, water and sewer upgrades.

“We’ve added police officers, firefighters and economic development staff to better execute in those departments on a daily basis,” he said. “These are still challenging times yet we’re doing the work of a much larger staff compared to decades ago.”

MORE: Middletown plans slight increase in public safety budget

Mulligan said the city has made strong efforts combating the opioid epidemic and praised the work of the quick response team to help overdose victims and families to focus them on recovery options and education.

“What doesn’t get as much attention, however, is the progress we’re making on the overdose front,” he said. “Responses, fatalities, and calls for police service are all down significantly, by more than 40 percent, over the past 12-18 months.”

While there many factors and partners contributing to the effort, Mulligan believes “a lot of the credit should go to the city, for stepping up to address this hard and difficult issue, grabbing ahold of it, and dealing with it straight on.”

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