Jacksonville Daily Progress
2013 was another highly productive year for the City of Jacksonville, and as the calendar flips from December to January, we look forward to making sure that 2014 is just as successful.
The City is always working to improve its infrastructure, and this past year has been no exception in that regard. During 2013, we did about $200,000 worth of sectional sewer replacement around Highway 79 East, and we expect to get that project finished up in 2014. The City budgets yearly $200,000 to resurface city streets, there has been a dozen streets completed in 2013, with $200,000 budgeted for 2014.
We also applied for and received a $300,000 Community Development Block Grant for drainage improvements on Cherry Street. This two-block section of Cherry Street has had a history of backing up and flooding the road when it would rain, and thanks to this 90/10 grant (90% grant with a 10% match by the City), we hope to have this project completed in early 2014.
Improvements also began at the Jacksonville Public Library in 2013, as we are expanding and updating some of the rooms. The Vanishing Texana Museum moved from the library to the senior center this year, and thanks to both some grant money and a little City funding, we are furnishing and opening those two rooms where the museum had been. Further improvements to two of the library’s meetings rooms should be finished in the coming year. The Vanishing Texana Museum is also expected to open its doors at its new location in 2014.
Grants allow us to make needed purchases and improvements without using the taxpayers’ money, it is always a priority for the City that we locate and apply for as many grants as humanly possible. Grants can really open up our budgets so that we can do other needed projects with the money, I feel like the staff does a very good job of seeking out and applying for grants.
The Jacksonville Fire Department received a $35,000 grant for a new ambulance in 2013, the rest of which was budgeted for in 2014, and will be delivered in the coming year. We are also planning to purchase a new pumper truck for the department in 2014. Replacing the old pumper has been on the radar for a long time, and we have finally saved up the money to pay for it with cash.
The City of Jacksonville has participated regularly in the HOME Grant since 2006, we are proud to report that we were able to help five more Jacksonville families through this program in 2013. The HOME Grant tears down dilapidated residences and builds brand new homes on the property without costing the homeowners a thing. It is a great project that helps out people who may not have the means to help themselves, we will always apply for it every chance we get.
\The City has already been notified that it will receive funding to build another 11 residences through the HOME Grant in 2014, as well. Participation in this program costs the City a little, but we feel like Jacksonville gets a great amount of benefit out of the deal compared to what we spend.
2013 was the fifth straight year that we have managed to operate the City without an increase in either the tax or the utility rates – and considering that this is our goal each and every year, it is always one of our greatest accomplishments when we can make it happen.
The costs of doing business keep going up, yet our department heads keep finding ways to provide the best services possible without increasing the burden on the citizens. I couldn’t be more proud of them.
For 2014, the mission is just to maintain and build upon the momentum that our community has gained over the past decade – improving infrastructure and services a little more each year and making wise equipment purchases, while still cutting down the City’s debt.
Thanks to the great efforts of our dedicated City staffers, I am confident that 2014 can be our best year yet.