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2018 – Better Roads, Cleaner Communities & more Public Input 

One of my favorite moments from 2017 was joining hundreds of families in downtown Milford as we sang Happy Birthday to celebrate Milford’s 230th anniversary as a city. The collective enthusiasm and spirit of that night was inspiring and a great reminder of what makes Milford such a great place to live, work and play. The success of large projects in 2017, including the Bayhealth Heath Campus and Nemours Pediatrics made headlines across the state of Delaware, demonstrating that our commitment to forging partnerships between public agencies, the private sector and our residents is critical to the success of our city. Challenging the status quo, we were able to lower electric rates, rehabilitate major roadways, including Airport Road, and restructured our City Charter to improve delinquent tax collection services. Milford welcomed the ingenuity of small business entrepreneurs including LifeCycle, EasySpeak Distillery, Etta’s Catering and Novel Tea Nook and the expansion of quality jobs from First State Manufacturing, Baltimore Air Coil, Perdue and Nationwide Health Services. Together, with energy and enthusiasm, we confronted a challenge as an opportunity to build a stronger community and created a foundation for our town to build upon moving into 2018 and beyond.
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In the new year, City Council will have the opportunity out of the gate to build upon our success as they will discuss plans to improve roadways and utility infrastructure, clean up communities and increase public input during the first month of 2018. With the support of our residents, these three critical policy decisions can move forward as public officials commit to serving in the best interests of Milford residents.

As any successful business, the City of Milford has undergone major planning efforts for the future to ensure that your tax money is being spent prudently and in a way that maximizes the tax payers’ return on investment. City Council was recently presented a Pavement Condition Index, created by two interns from the University of Delaware’s College of Engineering, that rates the quality of each City-owned road and gives each one a score based on its condition and priority for rehabilitation. These measures are being used by our Public Works Director, City Engineer and Finance Department to create a 5-year Capital Improvement Plan that will be used to prioritize each road and place a timeline on when it will be resurfaced or rehabilitated. These efforts will be done in coordination with planned repair or replacement of underground water, wastewater or storm water lines. This strategic effort will save the City time and the taxpayers money as the same roads will not be ripped up multiple times to address different concerns. In addition, this Capital Improvement Plan, will associate each project with funding sources. The Public Works Committee will be presented with a first look at this 5-year Capital Improvement Plan on Monday, January 22 and I encourage residents to contact their elected officials to let them know that improvements in our roadways and infrastructure should be a priority in the new year.

With these efforts underway, a successful code enforcement program is necessary to protect these public investments as these initiatives can drive an increase in the value of our housing market and the local economy. Over the past several months, our City Planner has restructured the code enforcement service in the City of Milford. Moving from a complaint-driven program to a proactive approach on the streets, City staff has closed more cases in the last several months than any similar span of time over the past two years. As this continues, there has also been a refocus on what the eventual goal of city code enforcement should be. Instead of simply collecting revenue from violations, City staff is working one-on-one with property owners to reach the ultimate goal: rehabilitating properties that will restore neighborhoods that residents can be proud of. The Planning Department has introduced resources to homeowners and renters, including the Downtown Development District, nonprofit grants and funds from faith-based communities, that can assist them in making upgrades to their property. In December, our City Planner introduced measures to increase code enforcement efforts and put more eyes on the streets by implementing a proactive rental inspection program. The rental licensing and inspection program has been on the books for eight years, but lack of political will has prevented it from moving forward in a meaningful way. A City Council Workshop meeting for public input on the rental inspection program will be held on Monday, January 8 at 6pm and I encourage residents to contact elected officials to urge them to support a rental inspection program that will help protect renters, increase home values and improve our local economy.

As more private investors choose Milford as their home, the City of Milford must have a strategic plan, shaped by its residents, to drive our future. In planning our future, the most critical component is public participation and input. The City of Milford is committed to increasing the opportunities for our residents to have an impact on decisions made by their local government. City leadership conducted a resident survey during the summer and held 22 Community Conversations with the public over the last two months to help create a 5-year Strategic Plan that will be used as a guide for growth, both philosophically and financially. Planning, partnerships and public input are the key components to meeting the opportunities ahead and are necessary to ensure that residents guide the future of Milford. At the January 8 City Council meeting, members of City Council will discuss and vote on the expansion of public comment opportunities during regular City Council meetings and City Council committee meetings in an effort to give our residents more opportunities to guide their own future. I urge residents to contact their elected officials and encourage them to make more public input a priority in the new year.

Improving our roadways and infrastructure, cleaning up our communities and increasing public input are critical to move Milford forward in 2018 and beyond. These initiatives will help enhance the quality of life for residents and visitors, attract quality jobs and grow a local economy that benefits the entire community. All three of these opportunities can take major steps forward with the support of residents in January. The workshop on the rental inspection program begins at 6pm and the City Council meeting begins at 7pm. As residents of Milford, you have the ability to move our community forward in a meaningful way. Contact your elected officials and let them know we are ready for better roads, cleaner communities and more public input.

Happy New Year,

Mayor Bryan Shupe

 
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