City staff recently finalized the 2019-2020 budget. Many hours of hard work went into looking at every department and reviewing the needs and requests. You have often heard me say “is it a need or is it a want?" And that adage holds true during this process.
Meeting were held with the Council to update them on budgetary numbers. Discussions were held and staff was included so that individual questions could be asked. Our goal is to have a “real” budget that reflects, as closely as possible, what will take place in the next fiscal year.
This year's total budgetary expenditures come out to $101,702,257. In this budget, there is $43,585,918 allotted for capital expenditures. There is also $6,500,000 for the completion of the voter-approved Public Safety facilities (Police and Fire). Funding sources that service our expenditures are primarily property tax and sales tax. This is helped by our Enterprise funds that service water, sewer, and the transfer station. Also helping is revenue from the Motor Vehicle Tax and the Motor Vehicle Fuel Tax.
I am proud to say that we can provide these services with no increase in our levee. For the majority of my years as a councilman and now as mayor maintaining our levee rate has been a goal and we work hard to accomplish this. I realize the naysayers will cry that their taxes went up so I shouldn’t be proud. Yes, your taxes increased but that was based on your valuation NOT on the levee.
We must recognize that as our City continues to grow and prosper the need for streets, water, sewer, Police and Fire protection continues to grow. Along with this, our residents expect those amenities, parks, ball fields, soccer fields, walking trails, swimming, golf and more that make Columbus an attractive place to call home. And I believe we are.
Activity continues to buzz all around Columbus. Recently the governor came to town to congratulate BD Medical East on the building of their new 90,000-square-foot addition. Along with that, he recognized the collaboration of the State, local, BD, and CCC in creating unique educational opportunities that give training in the operations and maintenance of the new high tech equipment that will be installed.
Earlier this month, the Masons held a cornerstone laying ceremony for our new Police Station and Fire Station. It was an honor to participate in an event that is so steeped in history and tradition. These two facilities represent a commitment to our community that will be here for generations.
Construction is taking place everywhere you look around town. North of town with the hospital expansion, Pillen Family Farms, and the Loup Power maintenance building. Of course, the police and fire stations. The old Walmart area is seeing progress on the Hampton Inn and just to the north of the Inn is the beginning outline of an apartment complex. In the middle of town the St Bon’s addition. And on the E end of town, somewhat hidden from view, is the new Columbus Hydraulics facility.
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Recently, the Valmont plant celebrated the addition of new square footage. A $3,000,000 investment that will add more employees and new equipment which will allow more diversification of Valmont products. Choosing Columbus for this expansion reflects on our hard work to attract and keep employers. And the quality of our workforce.
Never-ending is all the street and sanitary sewer improvements that are happening all around town. The 12th Avenue viaduct, Third Avenue south of Eighth Street, are all underway. Sanitary sewer bids have been awarded for the Energy Triangle (Loup Power Maintenance building) along the Parkway and 48th Avenue north of the hospital to the Parkway.
This summer we saw great use of our baseball fields and soccer fields. The Plunge had an awesome season and has earned a reputation as the premier water park in the state. Hundreds of visitors came to town and enjoyed our facilities. And while here they ate, purchased fuel and supplies, and in many cases used our motels. It is always great to showcase our community and let others see what we have to offer.
The clean up at Quail Run is underway. With the decision made to work with FEMA funding and bring the course back to pre-flood conditions, headway is being made. Special equipment has been rented and City staff is coordinating this project. At the same time, we are working with Landscapes Unlimited the golf course designer to repair and fix what’s needed. As with most things this project can’t move fast enough. I can assure you we are doing our best to get 18 playable holes open as soon as possible.
It’s hard to believe that summer is almost over. Seems like the 4th of July was just yesterday. School has started, Friday night lights have begun, some great entertainment with horse racing at Ag Park and Husker Saturday’s.
Something Good Columbus!
Jim Bulkley is the mayor of Columbus.