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Thursday, February 02, 2006

Managing increasing expenses focus of City administration

State of City offers optimistic outlooks: Expansions, ways to manage increasing expenses focus of city manager’s, mayor’s address

by Emily Canning-Dean


Bedford Ñ How does City Manager Bob Reid feel about the state of the city?

“We’re in good shape,” he said at the Jan. 18 State of the City address.

At the end of 2005, Reid said the city had an excess of $7 million.

“This was not an accident,” Reid said. “We worked hard with department heads on [last year’s] budget.”

Reid said income tax revenue increased 11 percent from 2004 to 2005.

“About 86 percent of our income tax is from businesses,” Reid said, adding that the city received about $10 million in income tax from local businesses last year. “Of that tax, about 50 percent comes from Ben Venue Laboratories and the Bedford Automile.”

Reid said he credits part of the city’s success in tax revenue increases to a large expansion at Ben Venue and by new dealerships built on the Automile, including a Maserati and an Aston Martin dealership.

But even with new businesses and expansions, Reid said the city still must be careful with its budget. With state budget cuts, the city is losing about $1 million from state funding 2005. He said healthcare for city workers has also been a growing cost.

“We pay for healthcare for 175 employees and 550 family members,” Reid said. “The cost for that has gone from $1.3 million to $2.1 million in three years.”

Besides businesses and revenue, Reid said city officials also are interested in keeping up the quality of the city’s housing stock. He said the city has taken a new approach this year to blighted houses. One blighted house in foreclosure was determined a nuisance and was demolished. Two others were repaired by the city, and the city will be reimbursed when the houses are sold.

“I think it’s kind of a gutsy approach to solving the problem. I think it sends a message that people can’t just walk away from a mess,” Reid said. “A house is often the most important investment a person makes and to have a blighted house next door is unacceptable.”

Reid also highlighted the concerts, festivals and other events hosted in downtown Bedford this year.

“These events are often a lot of work, but we want to use these to get people into Bedford and get people downtown,” Reid said.

Besides Christmas in Bedford Falls and all of the summer events on the Commons, Reid said the city hosted a fall festival and produce markets on Saturdays in the summer.

“We are planning to have the produce market again this summer,” Reid said. “We would like to have about 10 vendors the first and third Saturdays of each month.”

Mayor Dan Pocek said the city has a lot to look forward to in 2006.

He said Taylor Chair will move into its new building at Tinkers Creek Commerce Park this summer, leaving its current site ready for a group of cluster homes. He said he also looks forward to the cluster home development on St. Pius property and the construction of three Ganley dealerships on the Bedford Automile.

But there are still goals the city would like to reach.

“Last year I said we would like to see a restaurant downtown, and I wanted to see one come in 2005,” Pocek said. “We didn’t get a restaurant. But I believe we are closer to that goal.”

Pocek said he wants to make Bedford a stronger city for the future.

“Cities are unique,” Pocek said. “They have a soul. A lot of cities come and go, but Bedford has been around a long time. When I pass my seat on to my successor, I want it to be an even stronger Bedford.”


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