Last night Decatur city manager Tim Gleason presented his suggestions for improving Decatur. Many of the priorities focused on neighborhood redevelopment, though “aggressive” annexation of 450+- properties was also suggested, as well as improving customer service and relationships between city employees and residents.
Three new revenue streams were also proposed, a 4-5 cent motor fuel tax, increased gaming & liquor revenue, and ambulance service revenue. The council had discussed the city possibly getting into the ambulance business to generate revenue but that idea was shot down because it pitted the city against a privately-owned ambulance service in town. The council nixed the idea this time too. Councilwoman Ray went as far as saying, “Let it die.” However, the motor fuel tax will more than likely happen, as well as increased gaming & liquor license fees. Gleason also suggested taxing each individual gaming machine.
The gaming & liquor revenue was projected to generate $750,000 annually to fund demolitions, brush & weed clean-up, land banking & vacant land reuse, and a housing committee. The motor fuel tax would fund badly needed road repairs on Decatur’s secondary streets, largely in neighborhoods, as well as repairing/installing sidewalks and curbs as an incentive for new housing development and investment. Projected revenue from a 4-5 cent fuel tax is $1.2 – $1.5 million annually.
Gleason also spoke about targeting specific areas for redevelopment including demolitions and saving homes that are still salvageable. Much of this targeted area is along the US 51 north corridor, which is a highly visible area.
The Wabash area, directly to the northeast of the Water Street viaduct is being targeted as a social services campus. A recently constructed public health center was completed earlier this year at the location.
Overall, I was okay with the suggestions. Actually, many of them I suggested this spring, though I was more aggressive and off-the-wall with my thinking – as usual.
I’m not crazy about a fuel tax but I don’t see any other viable tax revenue option. I’m no fan of video gambling machines either. Councilman Dawson said that he personally hates them too but would let the market limit their numbers. They’re a necessary evil now that the city is depending on them for revenue.
I’m interested in seeing a much more detailed plan and like Councilman McDaniel, a packet containing all of the presented information would have been helpful. Hopefully one will be coming soon.
I’m interested in finding out what $750,000/year for our neighborhoods can actually do. I’d also like to know the costs and benefits of the proposed annexations. There was a map of the proposed areas the city would annex and I’ll try to get a hold of that.