Mayor to form oversight committee
By ADAM COATES
Funding for the city of Greencastle may be in short supply these days, but it was evident from a special meeting Monday night that there is no shortage of ideas for making the best out of a bad situation.
Mayor Sue Murray chaired the meeting that brought together members of the City Council, Board of Public Works, Citizens Advisory Commission for Economic Development (CACFED), Redevelopment Commission and other similar groups.
Board members heard from the mayor that the city is spending the bulk of its money on "just keeping the lights on."
This, she said, includes paying salaries for city employees and funding for public safety and services. She warned that services will have to be cut if the city sees a decrease in assessed value of between 15 and 25 percent next year, as the state has warned could happen.
So far, the city has not received any property tax revenues for the year.
"We're not going to be able to maintain things the way we used to," Murray said. "I think the challenge is to do things that don't cost a lot of money but still make us feel better about where we live."
That was the reason the mayor called Monday night's meeting: to bring together city officials to discuss ways to improve the quality of life in Greencastle while working with limited funding. The Redevelopment Commission and CACFED have pools of funding not relying on property taxes and have partnered many times with the city on projects.
Redevelopment dollars have gone toward the new Ivy Tech campus, runway expansion at the Putnam County Airport, development of the city's spec building and many other projects.
CACFED dollars have helped pay for extensions of the city's sewage system, work along Fillmore Road, the Southern Highway, Warren Drive and Capital Drive, to name a few.
It was apparent from the discussions that the mayor is hoping to continue to tap into those resources to pay for future projects in the city due to the lack of property tax dollars.
On Monday, the mayor asked each of the boards that were present at the meeting to designate a representative to serve on what the mayor is calling an "oversight committee." The new board will meet periodically to discuss important issues and come up with solutions.
The mayor provided the group with a list of projects currently on the city's radar. Many of them lack the funding, or only have a portion of the funding, necessary to make them happen.
* a stoplight at the intersection on Veterans' Highway at the middle school
* People Pathways Phase III
* Downtown improvements and upgrades
* Road resurfacing
* Sidewalk repairs
* Expansion of the city's water supply
* Community Center, Second Fire Station
* Albin Pond dam maintenance
* Jackson Street Blvd. construction
The mayor's list also included a list of initiatives, such as:
* Improving campus/community relations
* Exploring possible incubator/entrepreneur models
* Economic fitness
* Development and implementation of "the marketing plan."
The mayor noted that many of these initiatives were included in the Hometown Alliance discussions and the recent community summit.
Mayor Murray came away from the meeting saying she "felt good" about the results and hoped it would lead to planning and eventually to implementation.
"I just think this is really special for a group of people like this to come together and share their perspectives," Murray said. "There are not a lot of communities that can do this."