Tuesday, January 7, 2003

Voters get voice at town meeting

Aim: Figure out Ft. Mitchell priorities

By Cindy Schroeder
The Cincinnati Enquirer

FORT MITCHELL - Officials in this Kenton County suburb of 8,089 are asking residents to take part in Fort Mitchell's first town meeting next week to help determine spending priorities, especially in the upcoming fiscal year.

• What: Fort Mitchell Town Meeting
• When: 7:30 p.m. Jan. 14
• Where: Blessed Sacrament Church Undercroft, 2415 Dixie Highway
"We really would like to know what the top issues in the city are," said two-term council member Kathy Groob. "Many times, one resident will call a council member on a particular issue and we wonder, `Is this the pulse of the community?'"

As a follow-up to the Jan. 14 town meeting, Fort Mitchell City Council hopes to reach more residents by surveying taxpayers on city issues and services, City Administrator Bill Goetz said.

Council has yet to decide whether residents would be surveyed through a special mailing sent to all of Fort Mitchell's households or through a questionnaire sent out with the city's next tax bill.

With Otto Daniel "Dan" Wolff and Doug Hill joining Fort Mitchell's eight-member City Council this month, and preparation for next year's budget beginning in March, council member Jude Hehman said now is the best time to hold a town meeting.

"To often, residents don't get involved until their little corner of the city is affected by an issue," Mr. Hehman said. "We look at this as a chance to meet and greet your neighbors and your newly elected city officials, and talk about issues that are beneficial to the community as a whole."

Issues that council hopes to get feedback on include:

How Fort Mitchell can maintain a volunteer fire and EMS service as the pool of volunteers continues to decline.

Do residents want aggressive construction and reconstruction of roads and infrastructure?

How do residents rank safety issues such as sidewalk improvements and crossing guards, and how should they be funded?

Should Fort Mitchell provide leaf removal as several neighboring cities do? If the city does, should it be funded through tax dollars or assessments?

Other possible topics include Fort Mitchell's facility needs and recreation program.

"A lot of people benefit from the city's recreation program," Ms. Groob said. "But there are also people who don't have children and don't participate. ... Should we keep funding that through our tax base? And should we do an I.D. program or should it just be city residents participating? These are the kinds of questions that we hope residents will help us answer."

E-mail cschroeder@enquirer.com

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