VOICES: Residents’ safety and health top priority for allocations

Kettering Mayor Peggy Lehner

Credit: Contributed

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Kettering Mayor Peggy Lehner

Credit: Contributed

The City of Kettering’s tagline is “Kettering is home,” and that is truly the sentiment that guides our every decision. The goals our residents hope to accomplish in their individual households go hand-in-hand with those the City of Kettering strives to achieve to enhance local quality of life. Just like residents’ households, the City does everything possible to protect citizens from harm and provide services to bolster comfortable, happy living. The City’s priority is to offer everyone it serves equal opportunities to thrive.

The City of Kettering is not exempt from the pitfalls, heartache and setbacks brought on by the pandemic. Like most municipalities, Kettering underwent layoffs, furloughs, halted hiring, delayed projects and canceled equipment purchases to work within our pared-down budget. And, while the havoc the pandemic wreaked thus far should now be fully apparent, we continue to discover important areas that need our attention. In the same way a household is managed, the City continues to evaluate and prioritize the needs of the community.

City administrators prepare a responsible budget, maintain Kettering’s infrastructure and acquire equipment necessary to offer a safe, clean environment and provide residents and businesses the programs, services, amenities and assistance necessary for optimal quality of life. We do our best to provide the things necessary for our residents to proudly call Kettering home.

The City received federal funding throughout the pandemic allocated to assist our local businesses, renters and landlords, public safety personnel, homebuyers, home owners needing improvements and utility payment assistance. These funds allowed the City to collaborate and partner with local organizations to implement programs to assist with immediate needs within our community. The City and Day Air Credit Union partnered to use more than $1 million in COVID-19 relief funds for low-interest, forgivable loans to help offset down payment and renovation costs for current and future Kettering residents. The program continues to provide affordable and sustainable opportunities for Kettering residents to enjoy homeownership,

Additionally, the City will receive a total of $13.8 million from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) which allows the City to offer a broader reach to assist our community. ARPA funds were distributed based on the City’s revenue loss caused by the pandemic. Before allocating a dime, we paused to listen to our schools, residents and business owners to better understand the negative impacts caused by the pandemic, to date, and how to support current needs. I have been working with City Council members and City administrators to establish a plan of action to help our residents and businesses heal, feel secure and catch up if they feel left behind. The capital improvement projects and equipment purchases put on hold due to the pandemic are part of our to-do list, as well.

We developed a holistic plan that considers people over everything else followed by capital improvements to our streets, sidewalks, roadways and neighborhoods and the equipment our public safety and service personnel need to safely carry out their roles serving the residents. This “people, places and things” plan will consist of Community Programs for which $2,000,000 will be allocated, Capital Improvement Programs for which $7,300,000 will be dedicated and Equipment for which we will allocate $4,460,000.

Ultimately, the safety and health of our residents was top priority in planning these allocations. Thus far, Community Programs may include mental health, hunger and housing assistance. These programs will be specified once the needs are established and it is determined that no other resources are already in place to provide services.

Capital Improvement Programs include significant improvements to Forrer Boulevard, construction of Gentile Park, installation of touchless faucets at the majority of our public facilities and storm sewer improvements in the coming years. Capital Equipment purchases will include a medic, fire engine, trucks and heavy equipment.

The pandemic continues to bring about challenges we never imagined we would face. The City of Kettering will continue to do its part for our community to emerge safer, more comfortable, happier and healthier.

Peggy Lehner is the mayor of Kettering.

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