110 W. New York Ave.
DeLand, FL 32720
Residents can be proud of the way we faced challenges
posted Dec 30, 2009 - 11:36:54am
Before addressing the State of the City, the City wishes to congratulate the DHS Bulldogs Football Team for its outstanding and historic season. Their success this season has been a source of tremendous community pride. Congratulations Bulldogs!!!
DeLand is a great community, and is doing well during these difficult times. Over the past year, we have faced many challenges in our great city. We have worked as a city to find ways to grow our economy to assist those residents that are unemployed.
Many positive things occurred this year that will benefit our community. We would like to share some of those with you and discuss future plans for 2010.
It is important to note that City staffing levels are at levels equal to Fiscal Year 1998-99, even though DeLand has grown by 9,500 citizens and by 1,200 acres since then. City revenues and expenditures are substantially equal to Fiscal Year 2003-04, before the real-estate boom. The City Commission was very sensitive to reducing the tax burden, yet keeping service levels as close as possible to the high service levels our citizens have come to expect.
The City has an adopted strategic plan, which was developed with considerable citizen involvement. The strategies and goals are updated annually to provide guidance for the City Commission in establishing priorities for our community.
There are eight strategic focus areas in our strategic plan: Regional High Value Job Creation, Institute Smart Growth Principles, Preserving Sense of Community, Creating a Connected Community, High Value Government, Communication, Maintaining a Safe Community, and Preparing for the Future/Sustainability.
Regional High Value Job Creation:
This year, the City placed the greatest emphasis on job growth and retention. We expect the same to be true next year. Over the past year, the City has started or completed projects that will provide jobs which include:
• Opening a new Industrial Park with 100 acres of pre-permitted land available.
• Receiving a Federal Stimulus Grant to construct a new Water Treatment Plant.
• Seeking other Federal Stimulus grants.
• Receiving an Echo Grant to construct the Florida Museum for Women Artists in Downtown.
• Beginning construction of stormwater improvements for the central stormwater system.
We will continue to seek opportunities to retain jobs and bring jobs to DeLand. The new shovel-ready industrial park will be an excellent location for industry.
Institute Smart Growth Principles
Each year, the City tries to manage its growth in a manner that preserves our quality of life.
This year the City started a 2050 Visioning Process in cooperation with the Planning Board and the County of Volusia, to determine how the DeLand area should grow. This effort was recognized by the Florida Planning and Zoning Association Surf Coast Chapter as the “Outstanding Planning Study.”
In 2010, we will host public-input sessions on that vision; we will be working with the County on joint planning agreements to plan the future of greater DeLand; and we will be working with West Volusia water providers to plan for a sustainable long term alternate water supply.
In 2010, we will ask for proposals to develop residential units in Downtown DeLand.
Maintaining a Sense of Community
In this area, the City focuses on activities that promote or improve our sense of community. This year, we:
• Supported the Community’s various Special Events.
• Participated in the creation of Discover DeLand to develop a unique brand identification for our community and to market DeLand more effectively.
• Opened Chess Park in Downtown DeLand.
• Partnered with Stetson University to rehabilitate Conrad Park.
In 2010, we will seek additional ways to enhance our sense of community, a value which is extremely important to our citizens. Further implementation of Discover DeLand will be an important element in next year’s efforts.
Creating a Connected Community
The DeLand community values the “walkability” of its neighborhoods and Downtown, and the City has worked to create connections between key areas.
This year, we received an Echo Grant to construct a new trail along Alabama Avenue. Construction will begin on this project in 2010, and should be completed in December 2010.
High Value Government
The City strives to provide the highest quality service in an efficient manner. This strategy focuses on efficiency, effectiveness, leadership development and involvement by the citizens we serve. In 2009, the City:
• Reduced City expenses by 9.25 percent, saving the taxpayers of DeLand $2.1 million. The savings were generated by deferring capital, employee-benefit reductions, layoffs and reductions in other operating expenditures.
• Received an award for Best Drinking Water in Central Florida.
• Implemented a new Interactive Voice Response System to help utility customers after hours.
• Created the Second Chance Shelter to provide for the adoption of unwanted animals and to reduce City costs for animal control.
• Implemented performance measures in the budget process to increase accountability and improve City operations.
2010 will continue to pose fiscal challenges for city government, as city revenues will lag behind any economic recovery by a year or two. We will be creative to save our taxpayers money and maintain services, albeit at somewhat reduced levels.
The City strives to maintain a high level of positive internal and external communication and to foster better communication with our residents.
The City worked hard this year to provide residents and businesses with as much information as possible about our efforts and about how your tax dollars are being spent.
• The City is developing an improved City Web site that will allow our residents greater access to information, and will include interactive elements.
• The City also posts its newsletter and annual report on our Web site. Residents will be able to subscribe to the newsletter with the City’s new Web site.
• The City also provides information to our residents through our utility bills.
During 2010, we will continue our efforts to keep our residents informed about city government through our Web site, your utility bills and the local newspapers.
Maintaining a Safe Community
We recognize the key to any great community and its quality of life is ensuring that residents have confidence that DeLand is safe and secure. This year the City:
• Received a grant to pay for the addition of three Police Officers.
• Maintained the grant for a Victims Advocate.
• Approved a City-wide Panhandling Ordinance.
• Maintained our Fire ISO Rating.
Preparing for Our Future/Sustainability
The City Commission has taken steps this year to prepare for our future and reduce our carbon footprint. The accomplishments include:
• The City applied to the Florida Green Building Coalition to obtain designation as a Florida Green City.
• The City created a “Green Team” to promote sustainability in our community and to identify sustainable initiatives for DeLand.
• DeLand was the first city in Florida to approve a rebate program for residential construction meeting Water Star compliant criteria.
• Implemented a recycling program in Downtown DeLand.
During 2010, we expect to continue our efforts to create a sustainable community and will be seeking Federal Stimulus Grants to help in the effort.
Although 2009 was a difficult year, the City has moved forward toward our collective community vision. Our citizens have good reason to be proud of how city government has handled these challenges. We recognize that many challenges lie ahead that we hope will be opportunities for a better DeLand. We have learned that finding community-based solutions to our challenges continues to ensure our future success. By working together, we can build a bright future for our community in 2010 and beyond.
Best wishes for the New Year.
— Robert F. Apgar, mayor-commissioner
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