Planning for ‘year of public investment’

Seymour Mayor Craig Luedeman will deliver the annual State of the City address at the end of the city council meeting at 7 tonight.

During the presentation, he will highlight the work of the city’s different departments, update the council and public on the city’s financial status and talk about economic development.

Luedeman said although he likes to dwell on the good, he doesn’t plan to shy away from the bad either.

“There are some negative things we need to address, such as lack of funding for roads, infrastructure and trails, and what we are going to do about it,” he said.

That will lead up to rolling out some ideas for new projects and programs, he added.

He doesn’t expect to get everything done at once, but said there are some goals he wants to set for the city for his third, four-year term.

“These things don’t always come true, and some things are on a wish list, but these are things we need to work toward,” he said.

This year will be the “year of public investment,” Luedeman said, and will focus on efforts to invest in public trails and infrastructure.

“I think you will see trails happen this year,” he said. “We also plan to finish up the design of the Burkart South extension, finish the skate park and address some capital needs within the city.”

He also plans to work with the state to try to secure additional funding to pave more roads.

Financially, Luedeman said the city is doing better than he had hoped and ended 2015 stronger than projected.

“In 2012, we ran dangerously low on cash, and we are still climbing out of that hole, but we were about $150,000 ahead going into this year, so I was pleasantly surprised,” he said.

Also during tonight’s presentation, Luedeman said he will talk about a project he proposed in 2010 to create a trailhead/downtown arrival park in the vacant parking lot along U.S. 50 south of the Blish Mill silo.

“We no longer have the grant money, and we were unable to purchase the land, but we’ve created a new avenue to try to revive that project,” he said.

Because of continued expected growth in Seymour, Luedeman said the city needs to look at creative ways to increase available housing too.

“We had more new housing starts in 2015 than we have had since 2007. It’s not a lot, but I think we are going to see even more growth there. We are growing faster than what the Census projected, and we are already at levels forecast for 2020.”

He would like to see the city create a program to provide incentives for local contractors to build in blighted neighborhoods.

As for increasing retail development, Luedeman doesn’t expect any major announcements this year.

“I’d like to see us look at creating a new deputy mayor position to work on getting more retail businesses to invest here,” he said. “It’s not in this year’s budget, but maybe it’s something we can push for in 2017.”

If you go

What: Mayor Craig Luedeman’s State of the City address

Where: Seymour City Hall, 301 N. Chestnut St.

When: 7 p.m. today at the end of the regular city council meeting

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January Rutherford is a reporter for The (Seymour) Tribune. She can be reached at jrutherford@tribtown.com or 812-523-7069.