Thursday, January 23, 2003

Mason to survey citizens about where to spend bounty of money

By Erica Solvig
The Cincinnati Enquirer

MASON - The city is prosperous and will be investing in road widening, storm water projects and park programming this year.

But to make sure that's where residents want city money spent, the community will be surveyed for the first time since 1990, City Manager Scot Lahrmer said Wednesday during a State of the City address that focused on services. The format and details of the survey are not final.

"To improve our services, we must first identify the services that need to be better," he said. "A survey will help us to find out what our customers think and guide us in directing our efforts for improvement."

Among the other highlights of the 23-minute speech, the second annual such " address:

The city is expecting another increase in earnings tax revenue, despite a slumping economy. Last year, there was a 9 percent increase. This year's $72 million budget is $14.4 million less than last year's budget because the city of Cincinnati now controls water operations for Mason.

Mason will increase outreach to international businesses. The city is kicking off a program in which corporate executives and community members interact during lunch.

The city expects more partnership efforts with Mason City Schools. The city is adding another school resource officer to the district, making a total of three. The partnership also is seen in the community center, which opens March 1, Mr. Lahrmer said.

He also emphasized police and fire services, and a records management system that should be completely operational by mid-year. He added that it "looks promising" that departments would get in-car computers this year.

"The new system will allow dispatch information to be recorded directly into police and fire reports, making accurate reports faster and easier to prepare, reducing time in the office and increasing patrol time for police officers," Mr. Lahrmer said.

The city will be investing millions into improving roads and water treatment. That includes spending $3.4 million on the Western Row and Snider Road intersection for more turn lanes and a long-awaited traffic signal, Mr. Lahrmer said.

"I expect to see almost a million and a half city dollars invested in storm water projects this year," he added.

Mr. Lahrmer's address did not elaborate on a proposed downtown revitalization plan, which includes ideas for an entertainment district, amphitheater and series of parks. The proposal, completed by Poggemeyer Design Group in 2002, is expected to go before council in coming months.


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