Helping to ensure adequate funding for city government will be a top priority for Greencastle Mayor Nancy Michael as she moves through her last 10 months in office.
The three-term mayor, who announced recently that she will not seek a fourth term, talked about financial issues during her final State of the City address to members of the Greencastle Rotary Club Wednesday afternoon.
Michael has joined a group of mayors from around the state in a campaign called Hometown Matters. The goal of the group is to find sources of funding for local government in addition to property taxes.
The mayor and others fear that cities like Greencastle will struggle to operate when the 2 percent cap on residential property taxes, known as the Circuit Breaker, goes into effect this year.
To that end, she said she supports House Bill 1007, which passed the House last week, because it will provide additional money for cities.
According to the bill, it permits a county to impose an additional 1 percent County Adjusted Gross Income Tax (CAGIT) or a County Option Income Tax on individuals and corporations to provide property tax relief and additional revenue for the taxing units in the county.
Michael said she believes finances will pose the "biggest obstacle" to city government in the coming months.
But her speech to the Rotary Club wasn't all negative. She took time to praise her administration and the city and to set goals for the future.
She said she was pleased with the progress that was made on the Sgt. Cunningham property this year. She admitted that not everyone has supported the city's plan to have a speculation building constructed on the site but that she believes it is important to keeping the city competitive with other cities of its size.
Michael praised the efforts to help Ivy Tech as it plans the construction of a new campus in Greencastle.
Also she said she was pleased the city completed its renovations to Franklin Street last year, along with spending $25,000 on improving city sidewalks as well as repaving several streets in town. She vowed to complete more streets and sidewalks this year with $100,000 set aside for that purpose.
Streets on the list to be repaved this year include Washington Street (between Bloomington and Wood St.), West Seminary Street, Fawnview, along with portions of North College and South Locust.
Michael also praised the parks department's purchase of the former Clearwater's property, located on the southwest corner of Robe-Ann Park, as well as the Greencastle Fire Department for getting an improved ISO rating last year.
Goals for this year, Michael said, are to continue planning for a community center.
Michael said she believes a community center should include two gymnasiums, a fitness center, daycare center, lap pool and community meeting rooms. She said she and a group of local citizens have looked at several facilities in other communities, including Brazil, Plainfield and Franklin.
She said Brazil operates its community center with $7,000 in annual building expenses and the building was constructed for $2.1 million.
Additional goals, she said, are to continue with annexation issues, move forward with construction of the Albin Pond Trail of People Pathways, continue improving the city's infrastructure and encourage expansion of the city's industrial area.
"It's an exciting time for Greencastle," Michael said in concluding her speech. "But it's time to graduate to the next level. I believe it's time for me to pass the torch."