It’s hard to believe that 2016 has passed so quickly. As we close out the year, I wanted to let the residents of Villa Hills know that we had another strong team effort by City Council and lots of hard work by staff that has kept our city strong.
We promised to fix our street problem. This has been our main focus during the past year. Thanks to voter’s support of the road tax, we replaced, overlaid, or repaired 23 streets and crack-sealed many others. The cost was $880,000 just over last 6 months. Villa Hills received a 50/50 grant worth $314,000 for the 2017/2018 budget year to replace that portion of Buttermilk Pike in our city. While we are fixing our streets faster than ever, there is about a decade’s worth of deferred maintenance that will take us some time to catch up on. We are taking care of the worst streets first and paying attention to little details on other streets in order to preserve them. In time we will catch up. I ask for your patience as we work through the backlog.
We have also addressed many other issues that are important to our community. We are at full staff in our police department with 8 full-time officers. We hired Dave Finan who has 25 years of experience in other police departments. Sean Dooley has been hired as a police recruit. Sean is attending the police academy in Richmond where he will receive his certification and join our other officers in the summer. Thanks to Chief Allen, we had a successful Safety Night complete with a Black Hawk helicopter and one from Air Care.
Villa Hills continues to make good financial decisions with your tax dollars. We have been replacing our police cars and public works vehicles through lease purchasing agreements which allows us to replace more than one vehicle at a time at nearly the same cost as purchasing a single vehicle. We again received an excellent report from our auditor. We hired Jennifer Lipson who is our Deputy Clerk/Finance Clerk. She served 16 years as an assistant clerk in Ft. Wright and does a tremendous job.
On Administrative issues, we have brought back the Board of Adjustment to the city so local residents can decide zoning appeals. We also reconstituted our Vacant Property Commission to address the growing list of abandoned properties in the city. The city hired a part-time license inspector, Ken Shirley, to check on companies who operate in the city but didn’t get a business license. In the first 5 months this has resulted in twice as many companies buying business licenses than the prior year. We will collect the occupational fee, payroll tax, and gross receipts tax from these companies. It is only fair that every business that operates in our community pay their share.
On the community side, we have completed the work on the island at Niewahner and Valley Trails with the flagpole restored and the flag illuminated along with a new Amsterdam Village sign. We brought back the Shadow Night with the students at River Ridge, Villa Madonna, and St. Joseph Schools 5thgraders which was a fun and educational evening for everyone. We did two events with our sister city Crescent Springs, the Music Fest and Christmas in the Park. Both were very well attended.
As you have heard, we are working with the good sisters of St. Walburg Monastery and a task force to develop their 82 acres. There will be an important public meeting on Wednesday, January 4, 2017 at River Ridge Elementary School from 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. We invite you to attend this Open House where you can see and comment on the proposed uses for the site. We will take what we learn and make any needed changes before finalizing the plan.
Last year I challenged our staff to look for economic development opportunities and ways to bring jobs to our city. The development of the St. Walburg property provides an opportunity for some very limited commercial development. Staff is working on another project which I hope to be able to discuss with in the future.
I want to thank all our council members for their work and support. We have had 24 months of unanimous votes on legislation, which is unprecedented in our city. I also want to thank our fine staff in police, public works, and administration.
It is an honor to serve you as Mayor and may God bless the City of Villa Hills.
Irvin T. “Butch” Callery