With just two months left in my first term as Kirtland’s Mayor, I think it’s important to reflect on the things we’ve been able to accomplish together and to look forward to a great future for Kirtland. Every day, I become more impressed by the spirit of the Kirtland community, and the intelligence of our voters to sift through some of the noise that comes during election season.
Two months into office, I faced my first budget as mayor, and it became clearer than ever that we had much work to do. In April of that year, we began the tough conversations that led to outsourcing dispatch and reducing the number of full-time staff in the Service Department. In the case of dispatch, we were able to reduce our expenditure by more than $300,000 annually, and with the reduction in Service Department employees we saved over $230,000 in wages my first two years in office.
Good government does not happen only by identifying opportunities for savings but also by enhancing operations to run efficiently and effectively for the taxpayers we serve. That is why I found it imperative to appoint hard working, ethical and knowledgeable folks to lead our Service, Legal, and Engineering Departments. In addition, our new Senior Director has helped turn our Senior Center into the envy of many Lake County senior communities. We also appointed a new police chief that honorably leads the great men and women of the Kirtland Police Department. And finally, we continue to rely on a seasoned and one of the most respected Fire Chiefs in Lake County to keep our community safe.
Professionals leading our departments have led to notable accomplishments both in practice and in the spirit of good government. We now professionally engineer roads and have implemented good maintenance strategies that will lead to roads lasting for decades rather than a few years.
Our dispatch savings has made it possible to hire three more full-time police officers, and under the leadership of a new Chief, our patrol is keeping our main roads and neighborhoods safer than ever. In 2022, the Fire Chief and I worked together on a plan that enabled us to put two more full time firefighters on staff without costing taxpayers more. Adding outdoor pickle ball courts for our community and seniors, and by working with volunteers to construct a new playground put an exclamation mark on our increasingly vibrant Community Center.
But as I said, we have more work to do and if re-elected, we will build on the real progress we’ve made. I look forward to our next budget process where we will once again challenge ourselves to squeeze and save where we can, while continuing to direct the increasing work from home income tax dollars to our roads. We will keep investing in our people and with valuable community input, evaluate ways to increase business revenue while maintaining our small-town appeal.
It has been my pleasure to serve our residents and am hopeful we can continue our work over the next four years.