Mayor's Annual Message (1969)

From Lane Co Oregon


[edit] Springfield News, Wednesday, January 22, 1969, page 7-A

Mayor Reports City's Progress

It is a real pleasure for me to report to the Common Counciland the citizenry in the form of the Mayor's Annual Message. This is a requirement of the charter and a good one. It gives us the oportunity to reflect upon the labors of the past year, to appraise the current position of the City, and, more importantly, to look to the future.

The City of Springfield continues in sound financial condition. The tax rate for the fiscal year 1968-69 is $5.07 per $1,000 of true cash value. This represents only 17.3% of the total property tax dollar, a percentage which has continually decreased for the past 18 years. This means that when you pay $1 in property taxes, the City of Springfield gets only 17 cents, for which you get police and fire protection; library services; street sweeping, maintenance, and lighting; traffic signalization; fire hydrants; dog control; air pollution control; planning; zoning enforcement; and many, many others.

Our assessed valuation continues to increse. Our indebtedness is less than 26% of our legal debt limit, and we continue to receive most favorable interest rates on bonds sold.

[edit] Growing at a Rapid Rate

We have continued to grow and expand at a rapid pace. Building permits totaled $4,777,261 in 1968 and include 98 apartment units, 78-bed nursing home expansion, sizable expansions of industries such as Kingsford Briquet, Borden Chemical, and Chembond. Total population increased 1,000 people in 1968 and now stands at 25,400 citizens. We continue to be one of Oregon's fstest-growing cities. Area wise, we expanded more in 1968 than we have since 1960, with 310.27 acres annexed to the City via consent annexations.

Many worthwhile and important projects were started during 1968.

The City joined with the downtown merchants in employing the firm of Lutes and Amundson to prepare a redevelopment plan for the downtown area. The plan is approximately 85% complete and now we must implement it. This will be discussed in more detail later.

With the assistance of the State Library Board, a bookmobile was purchased for the public library and service was expanded to outlying areas of the City. Circulation through the bookmobile is averaging 1,000 books per month in its first seven months of operation.

[edit] Other Programs

In addition to the state and federal funds for the bookmobile, 1968 saw us enter into two other programs involving outside funds; a study of the administrative procedure of our court system and the development of a master traffic plan. Together, these projects brought approximately $20,000 into the treasury and permitted us to make much needed studies.

Early in 1968 we were informed, in no uncertain terms, that Springfield would be re-rated for fire protection purposes. The staff and City Council analyzed our fire department needs and presented them to the people in the form of a ten-year serial levy totaling $675,000. The voters unanimously rallied to these needs, and our task now is to efficiently put the authorized funds to work for the betterment of fire service and an improved fire rating.

The staff has already taken steps to strengthen our fire department. An additional inspector has been allocated, through a shift in personnel, and a complete inspection of all high value districts has begun. In addition, the fire department is expanding its services to provide a year round fire prevention program, including a more extensive and positive program with the schools.

[edit] Charter Amendments

In addition to the fire department serial levy, electors approved three charter amendments providing for annexation of areas creating a health hazard, increasing maximum court fines to $500, and providing for an official map of the City whereby future rights of way for public purposes may be preserved.

To strengthen the City's image at home and to improve citizen interest and participation, the City Council began inviting two... ...several honored high school seniors was initiated in cooperation with School District No. 19, permitting high school students to gain first hand information and actually become involved in their City government. Also, and very importantly, the City Council adopted an awards program to recognize faithful employees and firemen and members of boards and commissions.

Springfield was one of the few taxing units which stayed within the 6% limitation for the fiscal year 1968-69. One organizational change which greatly aided in being able to stay within the limitation was the creation of a Department of Public Works, combining three individual departments into one, under the leadership of a Director of Public Works. This permitted some $64,000 reduction in operating expenses and has been a tremendous help in our tight and austere budget situation.

[edit] Efficient Handling

Other operating efficiencies have been made such as centralization of purchasing activities and consolidation of personnel records within the Finance Department. The Finance Department, now the Department of Finance and Administrative Services, was able to relieve the operating departments of these record keeping burdens and, in turn, permit them to devote that time and energy in providing direct services to the citizenry. This was done without adding personnel; the net effect being the gan of manpower.

The pressure for opearting funds found the City Council reviewing and amending the street paving participation policy. Under the old policy, the program was three to five years behind, due to the City's inability to finance its participation. Under the new policy, street paving projects should now move ahead quite rapidly and long delays should be elminated.

One way the taxpayer can get more for his money is through various government units cooperating together, eliminating duplication, and sharing equipment. Formal aggrements were approved by the City Council providing for full cooperation between School District No. 19 and Willamalane Park and Recreation District. We are already experiencing considerable savings. The City Council is now considering a proposal whereby School District No. 19 and the City would establish a joint City-School equipment maintenance facility, utilizing existing City facilities and personnel to a greater extent.

[edit] Area Studies

It is interesting to note the various area-wide sudtides which are presently underway and in which Springfield is not only participating, but commanding a vital role.

They are:

Eugene-Springfield Area Transportation Study

Comprehensive Eugene-Springfield General Plan

Area-wide Water and Sewer Study

Mass Transit

Metropolitan Government Study

Comprehensive Health Planning

These are the major items which occupied our time during 1968. It was a good year, a productive year, but as always, the real challenges lie ahead.

The first major question we must face in 1969 is the matter of municipal facilities. The "go ahead" on the new high school was, in effect, an eviction notice to the City. The Old Lincoln School Building will soon come down, and our Public Works Department, City records, and equipment housed in this building must be moved. We have no place to go!

For several years this question has been before us, but never so urgently. We are fortunate that architectural studies have been made and can be utilized. This will save time and money. We already own the site, and we can further capitalize on the present planning by limiting our construction program at this time to include the conversion of the present City Hall site. In my opinion, this is the only sensible and economically sound approach to this urgent situation.

[edit] Needs Never Greater Sewer System

Our needs have been greater and the cost of construction will never be lower.

Equally as important as municipal facilities is the redevelopment of our downtown area. For the past ten years downtown merchants have been talking about improving their competitive position and upgrading the appearance of the downtown. Very little has been accomplished. Our competitive position is not improving, rather, it is declining. Revitalization can and must take place. There are, today, business concerns who have indicated their intrest in locating in the downtown area. However, they will not do so until the future of the area is determined. It is time to dedicate that future. The alternative is too severe. Springfield's position as a community is at stake. We cannot ignore the fact that we are competing for new business, new industry, and new citizens with many other communities who are actively engaged in upgrading their commercial attractiveness. We should take advantage of the planning which hs been done and move ahead without delay. This will require funds, most of which can come from the downtown property owner through special assessments; however, there is a general public responsibility. Nothing could be better for our community and instill more prodie than a revitalized downtown area and modern, up-to-date municipal facilities. The two go hand in hand and, with other planned developments such as the Springfield Utility Board Office Building, our core area can be renewed.

[edit] Sewer System

Another rather critical problem which we must face is the lack of funds for expanding our sanitary sewer and storm drainage systems. Neither is complete. Trunk lines within our sanitary sewer system are paid for by issuing bonds which are later retired from sewer user funds. With our growth both north and south, trunk lines are necessary, and we must analyze the situation, view it in conjunction with the Area-Wide Water and Sewer Study, and move ahead.

Our storm sewer system has proven to be money well spent. The authorized funds now have all been converted to much needed storm sewer lines which are keeping citizens out of the mud. However, we should not stsop for there are still areas within the City with major drainage problems.

[edit] Some other matters to which we should devote our attention

[edit] Industrial Preparedness

Springfield is strong industrially, but we must strive to be even stronger. New industry and diversification is one element of strength. Our Chamber of Commerce has been doing a remarkable job in this area. It is not enough, however, to seek new industry. We must recognize and support the industry we now have. It has long been my concern that there should be much closer coordination between government and industry. Therefore, I am proposing an "Industry Recognition Program" whereby the City and Chamber of Commerce would give proper recognition to our industry and, in addition, provide periodic opportunities for representatives of industry to sit down with government officials and freely discuss the future together.

To assist industrial representatives who are looking for industrial sites, I recommend that a "Total Information Committee" be established whereby one can, at one time and at one location, discuss available sites, utilities, zoning, etc. This committee should be made up of impartial individuals who specialize in various segments of our economy and who would be available on call. This committee could also answer questions related to annexations.

[edit] Low Rent Housing

A housing committee is being appointed whose function it will be to take a good hard look at the federal low-rent subsidy program as it might apply to Springfield. This is a question we should answer, and I hope that citizens of Springfield will make their opinions known on this subject.

[edit] Clean-Up, Paint-Up, Fix-Up

The various segments of the community who word diligently to beautify our City and make it a more attractive and enjoyable place in which to live are to be complimented. The beautification committee of the Park District, the Chamber of Commerce, Board of Realtors, JayCees, and many others are constantly alert to our aesthetic needs. The City should do more to assist these various groups in their efforts, and I would recommend a coordinated campaign by all of us. Together, our efforts should be quite monumental when coupled with citizen interest and support. A "Clean-up, Paint-up, Fix-up Campaign" with the City providing vehicles and manpower, combined with the efforts of service clubs and organizations, could "Spruce-up" Springfield and make it a total community effort.

[edit] Citizen Participation

The recent "Student Government Activities" have certainly being rewarding experiences for us, and we have been elated at the interest shown by the young people of our community in their City goverment, I, personally, feel that involvement of our youth cannot be over emphasized and should not be limited to a one-time-a year affair. To expand youth participation, the administrative staff has devised an educational program which can be offered on a continuing basis to any young citiizen to inform and involve those who are interested. It includes discussions on our form of government, the role of the City Council, and functions of the various administrative departments. It also requires time being spent actually participating in operations of the City, riding as an observer with police patrol, time on the bookmobile and in fire stations, and many other enlightening and worthwhile experiences. This will not be a school program, but will be in addition to school programs; not mandatory, but for those who are interested.

[edit] Annexations

As I indicated last year, and as the City Council has encouraged all during 1968, the boundaries of the City of Springfield should be expanded to include the Interstate 5 Freeway on the west, the Willamette River on the south, and the McKenzie River on the north and east. This area shares common problems and only be joining together can we solve these problems efficiently. Logic dictates that future construction of fire stations, trunk sewer lines, and streets should be considered for a common good.

However, our decisions are limited by that legal limit line beyond which we cannot extend.

In considering the state of the community and in looking to the future, I feel I must say a few words with regard to Willamalane Park and Recreation District. The District has done a remarkable job by instituting and providing park and recreation facilities and services. However, as with all special purpose districts, I believe their purpose has been served, and that it is now time to consider full maturity of the district and place it as a component of City government s a department within the City administration under direction of the City Council and City manager. This would result in the extension of park and recreation service to all Springfield citizens, not just a portion of them as the district presently serves. It would also bring a number of efficiencies and an overall savings of tax dollars. It would save duplication of maintenance crews and equipment, dual administrative staffs, two accounting systems, two payrolls, two auditors, two attorneys, and on and on. A decision such as this would be up to the voters, and I think that it is now time that the voters have an opportunity to make that decision.

I would be remiss if I did not publicly commend the Chamber of Commerce for its numerous efforts on behalf of the community. Never has City government and the Chamber had a closer relationship and never has that relationship been so effective. The Chamber, primarily a voluntary group of business men and community leaders, has constantly worked for Springfield, and thanks to them, the entire community has benefited greatly.

In closing, I would like to praise the Council and the many members of various advisory boards and commissions who have given freely of their time. Also, I would like to commend the loyal and faithful employees of the City. Most of all, I wish to commend the citizens of Springfield who, this year above all, have given their elected representatives their wholehearted support.

While we did not match the feats of our astronauts who circled the moon, we did reach for it, and in many respects, obtained it.

Thank you.

John E. McCulley


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