In 2009, Richland completed the first year of its strategic leadership plan, created by the Richland City Council in 2008 and based on "Seven Keys To Unlock Our Future."
This plan identifies five-year goals and two-year objectives to guide Richland toward its vision for 2030. The foundation of this plan is our intent to make local government more responsive and effective for our citizens.
During 2009, we accomplished many of our initial goals, including:
-- Receiving $10 million in grants for public safety, community development, housing, energy, environment and transportation projects.
-- Strengthening code enforcement efforts.
-- Piloting a successful curbside and yard waste program and initiating e-cycling at the city landfill.
-- Adopting a five-year plan for information technology improvements
-- Completing a $17 million renovation and expansion of Richland Public Library.
Also last year, the city council prioritized 19 capital facility and infrastructure projects for completion over the next 20 years, identifying these four for 2010 action, funding strategy or further consideration:
-- Broadband plan development that balances a regional approach with organizational requirements to meet present and future bandwidth needs.
-- Information technology improvements to allow for more efficient business processes and enhanced communications with our citizens.
-- Center Parkway development to support economic growth and improve traffic flow in the Tapteal area.
-- Fire station in CityView area to serve the city's southwest area.
As city council and staff work to create Richland's future, we are mindful of challenges that face municipal governments. Balancing the needs of our community with available resources is an ongoing process.
Although Richland has withstood the economic downturn far better than most communities, our 2009 sales tax and building permit revenues were down. As we prepared this year's budget, we had to assess expected trends in determining potential revenues for 2010. We also faced the challenge of containing our employees' health care costs.
We structured Richland's 2010 operating budget so that it is just 1.1 percent more than the city's 2009 budget. This incorporates a 5.4 percent reduction in the total budget. We accomplished this without layoffs, program reductions or a property tax increase. And we were able to maintain 2009 service levels during a time when many cities across the nation had to freeze or reduce programs and services.
Richland's resulting budget did not decrease park maintenance funding -- an important service to our residents. It funds the first year of our five-year strategic plan for information technology; redesignates $421,000 from excess equipment replacement, facility and insurance reserves to finance one-time requests; reduces printing costs by $43,500 -- demonstrating to our citizens that we count every penny; reduces the city's fleet and extends the life of other vehicles; reduces outside training for staff and creates a revenue stream from in-house training offered to other agencies; adds strategies to control health care program costs; reorganizes staff positions consistent with current service needs; and reduces employer benefit cost contributions for unemployment and health care.
The budget also sets aside $305,719 to stabilize the general fund in case of a protracted economic recovery.
Richland City Council and staff are committed to staying the course and continuing to execute our strategic leadership plan. We remain equally committed to performance and a solid financial position as we strive to become a results-driven organization.
We will continue to work on current objectives as we set the focus for years three through five of our strategic plan. We also will continue to look for ways to partner with other agencies and organizations to lower our costs and create additional efficiencies.
We take great pride in results of our 2009 community survey that indicate 80 percent of our citizens believe they receive good-to-excellent value for their city dollars.
The overall efforts from the past few years have positioned us to weather this budget year without extreme hardship. Those efforts stem from a belief that well-run organizations not only survive economic downturns, they also create the momentum required to excel.
Our strategic leadership plan, our commitment to continuous improvement and a genuine attitude of city care fuel our momentum. This combined with strong leadership from the city council and management team prepares Richland to meet today's challenges, resulting in a better tomorrow.