Middletown mayor’s State of the City highlights 7 areas of focus for 2018

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Caption
Mayor Larry Mulligan gives annual Middletown city update

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Middletown Mayor Larry Mulligan gave his 2017 State of the City address Tuesday to an audience of about 100 residents and community leaders at the Middletown City Building.

“Our future looks brighter — we have a plan in place to start addressing our road conditions, we are working on a plan for housing,” Mulligan said. “We will resolve the sewer issues and the opioid crisis. Working together we will improve school performance. We have the benefit of many great assets in our community. We will build upon those to achieve our greatest potential as a city.”

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Those challenges, according to Mulligan, include:

CITY FINANCES

Middletown is on better standing than in previous years and making good progress toward sustainable financial results, Mulligan said. He said the city is coming off years of cuts and service reductions and it is important that strategic investments are made in the city and its services.

HOUSING

After the release this year of a detailed analysis of Middletown’s housing conditions, Mulligan said the next step is to focus on vacant and abandoned properties that bring down property values as well as increasing and diversifying its housing stock.

“This marks the start of important policy discussions and decisions as we move forward,” he said. “I believe everyone can agree that quality housing, with safe neighborhoods, and increasing property values are all worthwhile goals.”

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ROADS

Mulligan said he city made repaving a priority, with over $1 million per year spent on road repair. In 2017, 95 percent of city capital improvement funds are dedicated to streets.

“We have made some progress in addressing some major streets, but much work remains,” he said.

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT AND JOBS

“We have achieved measureable results illustrated in the investment made in the city and the efforts expended to bring benefits to the city—increased property values and job creation activity —major projects with over $700 million in new investment—and the more than 200 new jobs that were created…many communities would be envious of that level of investment and opportunities. We’ve also experienced growth throughout the city. Today, there are over 1,000 open positions for jobs at our major employers,” Mulligan said.

SEWERS

Mulligan said the other major infrastructure issue to address is our combined storm and waste water sewer system. He said council made the difficult decision to raise sewer rates in advance of a future settlement.

“Setting aside these funds, and addressing current maintenance issues with our sewer infrastructure, will help once we reach a settlement,” he said. “While we have not yet reached a settlement with the EPA, the city continues to work towards a reasonable solution.”

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OPIOID EPIDEMIC

Mulligan said opioid and addiction issues continue to affect the city, as they do much of the region and nation.

“We were front and center of the attention this past summer, when Councilman (Dan) Picard’s question on the escalating cost for Narcan was twisted into a national and international debate on overdose responses. In 2016, the city was also in the spotlight from the national attention that Middletown native J.D. Vance received for his memoir of his family’s struggle and challenges he overcame,” Mulligan said.

Positive from the attention, he said, was that it created an opportunity for dialogues and debates, which helped raise awareness and attention on the issues and focused on city focused on a number of solutions.

“…We made significant progress, though like many things, work remains to be done,” he said.

The city is currently spending over $1 million to address the impact from opioids in direct police and EMS expenses that could certainly be better directed and used, Mulligan said.

PUBLIC SAFETY

Serious crimes are down 3 percent, according to Mulligan, and drug-related and felony drug arrests are up more than 40 percent.

Theft-related crime is down 7 percent, he said, and the city has increased the number of firefighters on duty.

Overdose calls have also declined, he said, but did not give specific numbers.

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