There is a lot to cover since March so I’ll try to briefly address several topics.
First, thank you to our Fire Chief, Tony Hutton, for his dedication to the job and our residents. Chief Hutton has relentlessly kept up to date on COVID-19 issues to make sure his staff, our city workers and the community are all well taken care of during the crisis. In fact, thanks to all of our city employees who keep the city operating as best they can during the unique circumstances of the pandemic.
I also appreciate the leadership of our new Service Director, Joe Fornaro, to create a streamlined environment of efficiency and accountability in the Service Department, working tirelessly since his appointment in early May to organize the department to deliver the best possible services to our residents. Joe has also been working together with our new City Engineer, Doug Courtney, to guide Council and me on the development of the best possible strategy to implement all of the promised elements of a road plan you can trust. Tapping into the knowledge and skills of Mr. Fornaro, Mr. Courtney and our new resident Road Paving Task Force, gives me confidence that we will be able to lay out the details of a long-term blueprint for our roads in the coming months.
In August, Kirtland will begin a new partnership with the City of Willoughby to consolidate emergency dispatch services. By collaborating with our neighbor, Kirtland will save over $300,000 each year for the operation of dispatch services. A portion of these savings will be utilized to create two additional full-time police positions, resulting in a net savings for Kirtland taxpayers of $800,000 over the next five years. Rapid changes in technology and associated cost increases have led many municipal leaders to recognize the value of spreading those costs among multiple users. In fact, the pooling of resources allows for continued investment in technology and other resources that provide for even better services. Many cities have already moved to centralized dispatch, including Chagrin Falls, Waite Hill and Willoughby Hills, as well as many others. In short, this is both good governance and prudent fiscal stewardship of your tax dollars and I am proud to have been a catalyst in the process.
Creating opportunities to deliver more efficient government has been a central focus from the outset of my term. And now, due to the economic conditions brought on by COVID-19 and the resulting anticipated waning tax revenue, we must continue to be vigilant in our approach to city government. The earliest projections from RITA suggest the City stands to lose over $300,000 dollars in budgeted income tax revenue this year. In addition, we face the likelihood of a significant drop in our expected state gas tax dollars. I will continue to work with our department heads and City Council to find ways to bring the best services to our residents while exercising fiscal responsibility.
Be safe and be well,