Looking at first three months on the job in Denison
by Bradley J Hanson, City Manager
The past three months have been an incredible and enjoyable experience here in Denison. The activities and recreational opportunities astound me, and I use them extensively. Because I am an avid walker, I have walked almost every road in town, but have yet to get out to the Yellow Smoke trail system – a walk where I definitely will need some water on that voyage from the Uptown area. I cannot forget the many activities sponsored by our business community throughout the summer, as well as events sponsored by the Chamber and Development Council of Crawford County (CDC). If you’ve missed any of these fun events, the next events are listed on the CDC’s website: cdcia.org. Don’t miss the upcoming event on September 16 & 17: the Tri-City BBQ Fest. I’ve heard excellent things about it, and I cannot wait for that weekend to be here. I’m wondering how much weight I’ll gain, or maybe shed?
Prior to my arrival the Council has already “shed” some expenses as they were looking at alternative services to see if they can save taxpayer dollars and provide the same or improved services to you all. As we look at different ways of doing things, this creates potential change and will hopefully improve services as well with a smaller price tag. One of these items we have just completed is a different management model of the Boulders Event Center, which could present some savings to property taxpayers. Your staff members have not stopped looking at ways to increase our productivity, efficiency, and your services. This means much like Boulders, some changes may be coming to your services. As your City staff works hard for you, we also need your assistance with letting us know what your needs are. One way citizens can help is by participating in the US Census.
I participated in an Iowa Public Radio (IPR) interview about the 2020 Census and how our City, like many others, had a significant lack of participation. Due to this under count our City will lose more than $2,000,000 in Road Use Tax (RUT) over the next ten (10) years as well as the potential of an additional $150,000 from Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) annual eligibility, which is currently at $650,000 annually. Imagine the potential for reduced property taxes if we all participate in the US Census in 2030? The next Census is just over seven years away, so let’s start talking about it today and be prepared to answer the inquisitive questions to improve our financial situation. The census is a snapshot of where people are living on April 1 of the census year. Questions include the type of housing (apartment, house or mobile home), and for each person living at that address, their gender, age, race, and ethnicity. All information is confidential and protected by law, even from other agencies. Information gathered helps allocate federal funds to those who need it most. We need to participate to ensure we receive the appropriate amount of funding for the betterment of our parks, roads, trails and paths, and facilities without increasing taxes – especially the Wellness Center and the potential of having an indoor soccer field or two.
The Wellness Center planning continues to progress as we are currently working with HGM Associates, Inc. in the design phase. The citizen-formed committee continues to meet and narrowed down what the needs were during the last meeting when they designated individuals to participate within the design team. Furthermore, the City has secured grant writing assistance for a large opportunity that could cover up to 25% of the construction costs of the entire facility, not to mention some smaller grant opportunities as well. This community has been fortunate that the citizens of this committee include multiple individuals writing other grants that could bring down the total cost to the City and you all as taxpayers. Two individuals, Jennifer Zupp and Councilmember Jessica Garcia, are spearheading the opportunities to again reduce costs to the City.
We are in the middle of transition within the City as we aspire to be better and improve ourselves, and the services we provide to you all. This transition also includes being as transparent as possible with what we do for you. I have an open-door policy, but please schedule an appointment, if possible, to ensure I am available for you, I have off site meetings and site visits, so I am not always available in the office. When I am in the office, I have many meetings, phone calls, webinars, and other appointments. However, I will always take the time to talk to citizens. Last month, City Clerk Flaherty and I walked around Uptown and attempted to visit as many businesses as we could to introduce ourselves because we are both new. City Clerk Flaherty returned to Denison after a few years hiatus, and I am brand new to Denison employment. We are hoping to return to our walks sometime next month. Enjoy the remainder of your short summer, and we’ll see you in the community!