The end result was good, necessary and a positive change for the City and its citizens. The expectation of personal accountability and the continued advancement of Zachary as an emerging leader within the state help drive and inspire our efforts.
The City of Zachary is blessed with excellent District leadership provided by its five elected Councilmen: Messer’s John Coghlan, Francis Nezianya, Brandon Noel, Dan Wallis and Tommy Womack. Their unselfish and tireless efforts on behalf of the people they represent are evidenced daily through very positive feedback. It has been my pleasure to work with and learn from each of them during the past two years.
A continued and on-going improvement within the City’s governmental operation includes newer technology advancements designed to promote greater efficiency for our workforce and the public as well. The implementation of on-line bill payment and the soon to be realized Customer Payment Kiosk at our Utilities Office are but a few of many site improvements.
Zachary continues to enjoy a robust economy and a healthy surplus. Sales tax revenues and new construction starts remain high as our community continues to grow at a welcome pace. Unfortunately, the costs associated with running local government increases daily, and Zachary is not immune.
While rising operational costs cannot be ignored, the City has identified methods aimed at cost reduction while keeping a watchful eye on existing assets and resources. This proactive approach assures the continuation of deliverable services that the citizens of Zachary have come to expect and enjoy.
Very few opportunities remain available for local government to effectively generate its own revenue streams. The Zachary Youth Park has become that rare exception. Good and necessary change implemented over the past two years have substantially increased revenues for the City.
We now host organized tournament play, have taken over the site concessions function and have professionally turfed four of the existing ball fields to assure continued play, even during periods of inclement weather.
An innovative Park Director and a very dedicated staff are responsible for this transformation. I am confident that future enhancements envisioned for the Youth Park will continue to expand, improve, attract and generate an increased revenue source for years to come.
Zachary’s continuing economic development interests were greatly enhanced during the past year with the addition of a full-time Economic Development Director. Through partnering with the Zachary Chamber of Commerce it has provided that strong, one-two punch that promotes the City’s growing economic development impetus. This appointment has already paid dividends through renewed interest in the promotion of Zachary as “the viable contender” in an emerging economic market. A proposed Industrial Park, other commercial interest attractions and Zachary’s Smart-Plus growth model holds promise for a bright economic future, one now clearly visible on the horizon.
The City’s on-going implementation of new policies, procedures and processes help to assure not only accountability but consistency in the delivery of essential City services.
A Hazard Mitigation Plan developed by the City’s own workforce in 2011 survived its own “acid test” during Hurricane Isaac in late August of 2012. Plan implementation resulted in a more rapid deployment of “post mitigatory” relief measures, thus enabling Zachary to receive its FEMA cost share reimbursement within four months of the storms passage.
Other strategic emergency planning during the past year included continued development of a “stand alone” All-Hazard Plan for The City of Zachary.
A particular emphasis on School Violence and Related Campus Security remains a key consideration as we continue to partner with the Zachary Community School District in advancing this collaborative effort.
Larger and critically important capital projects include a city-wide sewer improvements package funded by .95% DEQ monies, authorizing up to $14 million in overall improvements.
Separate natural gas distribution system rehabilitation continues along Hwy. 64, funded by state Capital Outlay dollars and LGAP (Louisiana Government Assistance Program) funding. A separate Louisiana Community Development Block Grant will fund an $800,000 dollar water improvements project in an area west of Northwestern Middle School.
Other projects of interests include LGAP funds for Fire, Police and Public Works equipment, and a new Fire Engine and support equipment funded through the Gustav/Ike Recovery Grant arrives later this spring.
In reporting these accomplishments, I would be remiss by not adding a caution. Zachary is not immune from the growing decline in the availability of state and federal support dollars. Traditional funding sources are becoming scarcer with each passing day. The expectation that we be able to do more with less has become reality.
We are well aware that if we’re not receiving our fair share of existing grant dollars, then someone else is. That prospect alone makes us more even more determined to acquire as much as we can, as fast as we can, for as long as we can. This reality has become a central focus for this administration.
While impossible to attend to every conceivable need associated with capital projects, there are other necessary and worthy projects which we will continue to advance.
Progress, albeit slowed, continues on McHost Rd., which requires widening and other safety featured considerations. On-going discussion with DOTD on the future of Hwy. 64, the City’s primary East/West traffic artery while under study, continues at a cautious pace. These two unique projects require parish and /or state financial assistance and authorization approval due to their particular designations(s). We continue to work with representatives from each to assure that project advancement does occur and that a fair and responsible cost share is agreed upon by all.
The City of Zachary is now authorized to bond its own project funds following last year’s voter approval of a proposed ordinance allowing for such. The potential for future funding needs and infrastructure revitalization projects have been greatly enhanced by that authorization.
Zachary is blessed with a strong economy. Revenues still exceed expenditures and local government continues to enjoy a healthy surplus. Prudent spending and a “pay as you go” business approach has enabled the successes we have enjoyed these first two years in office.
Zachary is blessed with the people who truly make our community what it is. Your spirit of generosity was clearly evidenced during the month of December when you supported the “Pack the Pantry” project.
Thirty thousand pounds of food and nearly $30,000 dollars in cash was raised in support of the Zachary Food Pantry. The new Food Pantry building is scheduled to open its doors in February and should serve as a lasting testament to Zachary’s spirit of giving.
As a community, you are truly “secundum nulo” (second to none)!
I would conclude by once again encouraging all citizens to become more active in the affairs of local government. Get to know your respective Councilman, attend a Council Meeting and exercise your right to participate in the process of government.
Please join us as we celebrate these accomplishments and continue to work toward our City’s future.
Mayor David Amrhein