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New Haven's future remains 'bright and hopeful,' mayor insists

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State of New Haven

What: Mayor Terry McDonald’s “State of the City” address
When: 7 p.m. today
Where: The Orchid, 11508 Lincoln Highway E.

But annual address will also explain need for big increase in sewer rates

Monday, March 10, 2014 - 9:46 am

The outlook for New Haven is “bright and hopeful,” Mayor Terry McDonald is expected to proclaim in his annual “State of the City” address today, thanks in part to increased economic activity and reduced crime. But progress will not come without cost, McDonald will warn.

New Haven now has a permanent seat on Greater Fort Wayne Inc., and McDonald expects that involvement in the county’s chief economic development agency to increase the city’s influence on future decisions. In his prepared text, McDonald also points to several recent economic successes: a new $20 million, 178,000-square-foot distribution center for FedEx Ground; a $12.6 investment by Corrugated Supply Co.; and expansions by Hercules Machine Corp. and Central States Enterprises.

McDonald also will hint that even more may be on the way.

“I wish I could tell you what’s developing, - - hopefully soon we will be making some great announcements,” he said.

McDonald questioned, however, proposed legislation that would eliminate the state’s business personal property tax, saying it could cost New Haven $800,000 annually.

Although the city’s road crews used a record amount of salt this winter, New Haven’s Police Department saw a decrease in major reportable crime, including no homicides. Additional personnel may be hired because of Fort Wayne City Council’s decision last year to increase income taxes for public safety uses, McDonald said.

Road projects continue as well, including planned improvements to Landin Road. McDonald expressed disappointment with the “bumpy” improvements to Moeller Road, however. “We are in the process of addressing these issues with (the state) and we hope to have answers soon,” he said.

McDonald said improvements are planned to the city’s water and sewer systems as well, and braced residents for an increase in sewer rates he told The News-Sentinel last week could approach 42 percent.

“We have plans for many projects, but with continued increases for sewage treatment from the city of Fort Wayne, coupled with the increasing problems of inflow and infiltration, we have had to use construction dollars to help pay for our treatment costs,” he explained. “We must address this problem. While no one ever wants to raise rates, we find ourselves up against the wall. Do we continue to eat up all of the construction dollars that were built into our rates for pay-as-you-go construction projects and continue to absorb escalating treatment costs? Or do we address the problems of inflow and infiltration today and decrease our treatment costs to the city of Fort Wayne into the future?

“I know these are difficult questions, but if we are to continue to make necessary improvements to our sanitary sewer collection system, we must address the problem now. We need to continue to rehab 20-30 manholes every year to reduce inflow and infiltration. We must identify and fix old sewers that are over 50 years old and allow ground water into our system.

McDonald also praised creation of the New Haven Community Foundation, which he said displays the city’s “whatever it takes” mentality by working “to improve the quality of life of residents in New Haven through charitable perpetuation of youth programs, art and cultural enrichment, parks, recreation, and education related to these purposes in the community. McDonald pledged to donate $500 to the foundation, and challenged at least 20 others to also contribute.

“We are financially strong, we are growing with purpose and appropriate restraint,” he said in conclusion. “We are a community that is a great place to call home. New Haven is a hometown growing for the future.”