The national news recently has focused attention on the difficulties facing some U.S. cities during the latest economic downturn. I am extremely pleased to be able to report to our residents that while Mansfield has faced challenges during the last five years, we have managed to address our community’s needs, maintain our tax rate and keep our local economy strong.
As we move into a new budget, we are seeing signs that our economy is recovering. We continue to hear positive reports from local industries that are growing, expanding and hiring. That news, as well as the increasing number of construction projects we’re seeing around Mansfield, is a positive sign.
The proposed fiscal year 2014 city budget, which the city council is expected to approve this month, addresses several key immediate needs facing the city this year: public safety communications, public safety equipment and street maintenance.
The proposed $148.4 million budget also accomplishes the city council’s goal of maintaining the current tax rate at 71 cents. Residents will only see a higher property tax bill if the value increased.
Personnel additions are part of the budget this year, including five new public safety dispatch positions and three street maintenance positions. Capital expenditures include police patrol vehicles, a fire apparatus and an ambulance.
Among the infrastructure improvements in this budget are $7.1 million in street improvements, $13.6 million in new and expanded water lines and $8.3 million in public safety facility improvements including expansion of animal control, dispatch and the construction of a tactical training center.
In the coming weeks, the council and staff will begin a strategic planning effort designed to ensure we can address future city needs. We will review our long term capital improvements as well as examining our future revenue projects and what that means for our city operations.
The 2014 service program may just be getting underway, but managing the city in this economic environment means looking years ahead and planning for the future.