Rushville Mayor Mike Pavey delivered the State of the City Address Tuesday to the Rushville Rotary Club during a noon luncheon, and again Tuesday evening for the public at the 201 Building on Main Street in Rushville.
This was Mayor Pavey’s second State of the City Address, the first having come after he had spent a mere 31 days in office. With a full 373 days experience behind him, Pavey said Tuesday’s comments offer a “more realistic view of where we are and our opportunities.”
Pavey has demonstrated a more listening, less talking approach to city governance early in his term and says he believes a mayor’s role is to promote passion and internal excellence, encourage creativity, maintain focus, enforce consistency, and to connect the dots and facilitate discussions and action within the community.
He spoke about the philosophical obstacle to change in Rushville and that small changes are adding up to larger changes that help Rushville, in spite of taking the community out of our comfort zone of ‘it’s always been done that way,’ to consider new solutions.
Pavey individually praised the Rushville Common Council; the Board of Works; city consultants such as Julie Newhouse, Grant Reeves and others; department heads, city employees and a growing pool of local volunteers for innovation and service as a team.
From the extreme drought of the summer months to the blizzard in December, Pavey said the city departments and employees had worked creatively and together to help Rushville weather those storms.
“I think the Rushville City Council is as good as any city council in the state,” Pavey said.
In a serious tone, Pavey said when the school shooting incident happened in Connecticut recently, “As a parent you pay attention to that. You’re very aware of an incident like that. And that night, the night of the event, of the shooting, they had the mayor of the town and they were interviewing him. Being in my position you quickly wonder, ‘What would happen if that happened here? Would I have the right people in the right places?’” Pavey said. “It was very reassuring to me to feel that we do, We have good people.”
The city is not without challenges that joint efforts among departments will be essential to overcoming including challenges to the bottom line. Clerk-Treasurer Ann Copley reported at the final council meeting of 2012 that, “The general fund tax draw for 2012 year was $181,000 less than was received in 2011.”
In spite of dwindling revenue, says Pavey, “We closed out the fiscal year 2012 with $171,605 more than we started 2011 with. A $350,000 financial swing.”
Pavey enumerated several obstacles facing Rushville, many of which we share with other communities in our state and country including revenues that are not growing, the growing percentage of the community that lives in poverty over decades past, the need to think beyond the needs of the current generation, getting better at telling Rushville’s story to state and federal legislators as well as among local constituents, how to tackle the unfunded mandates ahead such as an at least $125,000 levee recertification process, compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act requirements that will be close to $75,000 and bringing Rushville’s aging combined sewer overflow infrastructure into compliance, a major project demanding close to $8 million of local resources.
While some mandates set far future dates such as the CSO system compliance by 2022, it is a challenge that Pavey says he won’t “kick the can down the road,” on.
With funding at historically low interest rates available on a project like CSO’s, whose dollar signs go up the longer it is put off, Mayor Pavey says he believes the right time to take on these challenges is in our near future, not later when options may be fewer and the clock is running out. He says he plans to hold Town Hall meetings to gain input as the full CSO plan continues to develop.
“You hear people talk about the fiscal cliff and this critical point. This is our fiscal cliff. This is something that is significant. It is happening. How we handle it and how we address it is going to be critical to all of us,” Pavey said of the CSO treatment facility commitment that was agreed to under Mayor Mervyn Bostic’s term in office.
A rate increase is likely in this community’s future to address these substantial issues in the future. “At the end of the day, we are going to be burdened with some type of rate increase. Now what that’s going to be, we’re not sure yet,” the mayor said.
Pavey then turned to the good news ahead for what he termed the pillars of Rushville’s rebirth including economic development, a focus on improving quality of life for residents, being open and transparent in the way the city communicates and governs, and increasing community pride and confidence. “Yes, Rushville is open for business. We encourage business. We want business,” Pavey emphasized.
In comments on economic development, Pavey spoke at some length on the EDA Grant that will continue to develop Rushville’s North Industrial Park, the future INTAT expansion that will bring some 50 additional jobs, the active implementation of the strategic plan for economic development created last year, the 16th Street extension from Loma Apartments to Spencer Street that begins later this year and now includes water and sewer services to spur development, total reconstruction of U.S. 52 planned in coordination with INDOT for 2014, settlement of the Brackney lawsuit and Rushville’s intention to remain ahead of the curve on fiber optic services delivery and growth through a partnership with Nine Star.
Making Rushville a livable community that offers residents, businesses and visitors valuable quality of life amenities is also an area where Pavey believes the city is excelling and wants to continue to focus resources and effort such as walking trail extensions and Rushville’s Riverside Park Amphitheater, which has developed into a major attraction for our community.
The 2013 Summer Concert Series schedule will be announced at 7 p.m. Jan. 31 at the 201 Building, 201 N. Main Street, Rushville. The public is invited to this anticipated announcement.
Pavey also commended the creativity, self-initiative and cooperation among departments and community partners that has introduced activities like the haunted trail wagon rides during Halloween, ice skating that will be available when the weather cooperates at an outdoor rink set up at the amphitheater, wellness programs and a Mayor’s 5K on City Trails being planned to benefit autism April 27, 2013.
Pavey also talked about the recent rebirth of the Chamber of Commerce under the leadership of Sandy Fussner, grants to assist the elderly stay in their homes longer though improvements to structures and grant/loan programs that will fund $66,000 in needed improvements to the Senior Center. Additional quality of life initiatives Pavey outlined included a growing focus on philanthropy and giving in Rushville, removal of unsafe structures, and a long-sought improvement to drainage issues south of town that recently moved forward with a new city contract.
The mayor also highlighted the Veterans Memorial Grand Prix race-filled weekend planned for July 19 to 21 with midget races and more in the works.
In efforts to make local government more transparent, Pavey touched on activities like department head meetings held every two weeks, inter-departmental sharing of resources and equipment, leadership and budget training, Council meetings that will be streamed live online beginning with the Feb. 1 meeting as well as making the city’s website, social media and other communications programs more interactive and responsive to the needs, concerns and ideas in the community.
In keeping with the focus on the next and future generations, Pavey spoke about reaching out to the youth for their input and ideas as plans for the future are developed.
Two key initiatives are also now co-located, with offices of the Heart of Rushville and the new Partners for Progress now sharing space within the Chamber of Commerce’s offices. Pavey touched on upcoming information gathering from throughout the community that will begin soon by Partners for Progress.
The lions that have popped up all around town through the Lion Pride program also made an appearance during the State of the City and small versions of the lions, said Pavey, are available now though the Fraternal Order of Police in Rushville.
With an early goal of 24 to 30 lions to show our community pride, Rushville businesses and individuals have shown they are more than willing to help grow the roar and show community spirit with 123 lions gracing our streets to date.
Pavey gave a nod during his speech to Council member Brian Sheehan, whose Smile Fund is helping downtown businesses pay 1/3 of the cost, up to $1,000, to spruce up, fix up and brighten up the community.
Also mentioned were beautification efforts done in partnership like the planters along Main Street sidewalks in summer months and 1,000 tulip bulbs that will bloom with color this spring where SR 3 and U.S. 52 come together just south of downtown thanks to the Bill Herdrich family.
“You may not be for me, but I’m asking you to be with me,” summed up Pavey Tuesday, asking community members to join in the many efforts going on to make Rushville the kind of place this and also future generations will choose to call home.
“We did not get here overnight,” Mayor Pavey said of the challenges before us.
“Correcting the ship’s course will take time. We have a responsibility to our future generations to position ourselves for prosperity and to address our challenges. We need to look past our comfort and leave the next generation with every opportunity for a bright future,” he added.
Contact: Melissa Conrad @ 765.932.2222 x107