Whitehall News

First State of the City address

Maggard: Success requires sound financial management, togetherness

By ThisWeek Community News  • 

Whitehall Mayor Kim Maggard's eight-minute State of the City address to City Council on March 19 highlighted accomplishments during her first year as mayor and challenges the city faces.

Maggard delivered her first address since being elected mayor in 2011. She said she believes she is the first Whitehall mayor to do so.

Only two other mayors -- John Wolfe and Lynn Ochsendorf -- have served the city since 1993, and neither had a practice of delivering prepared State of the City addresses.

Maggard said she wanted to give an address to provide residents an opportunity to learn about the city's accomplishments and goals. She plans to continue the practice, she said.

"As I reflect back on my first year as mayor, it struck me that it has been a year of great progress and momentum created not only by the city but (also) by several of our community partners," Maggard said, pledging that the administration would continue to cooperate with such partners "to achieve the mission of delivering high-quality, cost-effective services to the community."

Maggard spoke about a strategic planning retreat that members of council and the administration attended in April 2012, from which 20 goals were identified.

"I am proud to inform you that we have made significant progress towards or accomplished 17 of the 20 goals," she said.

Among those was a rebranding campaign in which the city unveiled a new logo and tagline, "Opportunity is Here," as well as a redesigned website for the city.

"The new website allows residents to view an event calendar, make payments online, submit requests and find information about our (city)," Maggard said.

She also described the success of the My Home Program, designed to boost the number of owner-occupied residences in the city.

To date, closings have been completed on 16 residences through the My Home Program in which the city provides financial assistance to qualifying homebuyers who satisfy the requirements of the program.

"Even more spectacularly, in addition to more homeowners, 48 new businesses opened up in Whitehall in 2012," Maggard said.

The new businesses, paired with the addition of new jobs at such existing businesses as Data Alliance, contributed to an income-tax revenue increase of 2.1 percent last year, she said. The additional revenue resulted from a payroll increase of $17 million in the city.

"The increased revenue, combined with sound financial management, allowed the city's general fund to end the year $407,752 in the black," Maggard said.

She alluded to the effects sequestration would have on the city's budget. Announced furloughs at Defense Supply Center Columbus, where about 9,000 civilian and military personnel are employed, are expected to reduce the city's income-tax revenues by about $1.5 million, city officials estimate.

"While 2013 is already presenting new financial challenges, I am confident that through improving efficiency, we will be able to increase the effectiveness of the services to our residents," she said.

Maggard outlined examples of such effectiveness, citing Coplogic, a new online reporting system for residents and businesses to report misdemeanor crimes.

Maggard recognized the philanthropic and volunteer efforts of numerous organizations in the city.

"Building upon the city's successes and momentum in 2012, I look forward to another successful year," said Maggard, who added that to do so, the city "must place an even greater role on stable and conservative financial management."

Maggard said goals in 2013 include prioritizing city entrances for streetscape and gateway improvements, redefining park uses to better meet the needs of residents and identifying the fiber-optic needs of area businesses.

"Helen Keller once said, 'Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much,'" she said. "While we accomplished a lot in 2012, let's together accomplish so much more in 2013."

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