Updated Sun, Dec 30, 2012 9:18 am
"2013 is going to be a great year." So says Jeff Tilton, the mayor of Zanesville.
Tilton is the last of the city executives to be interviewed for our series "2013; The View from City Hall."
"Well, right now we're working on all the departments, their wishlists and trying to put a permanent budget together for next year and right now we look very good. We're above water and everything is in the black, so that's one of the biggest challenges we have: keeping all the services in tact at this time," said Tilton.
Just a year ago, he says, his office was worried about furloughs and budget shortfalls. But now, things look a little different.
"This year, my first year in office, we've put many new firemen on and new police officers. We've only had half the jail open for many years and we've got it completely opened again, so we're doing a lot of good things with the first year in office," said Tilton.
Tilton credits the hard work of his administration for the turnaround.
Like his counterparts in Marietta, Athens and Ironton, Tilton says finances will be a challenge in the coming year.
Infrastructure, too, will require a special effort.
"We've got a real aging water line here in the city of Zanesville and we just put in a brand new water plant, so now we're starting to work on the infrastructure. The water tanks, we need to get those cleaned and repaired as best as possible. We're replacing as much water line as we possibly can with the money we have," said Tilton.
More than 100 water breaks in the last year are the driving force behind updating the system, says Tilton.
A storm water sewer separation project is also on the horizon for the city.
The project must be completed in the next five years, Tilton explains.
"We have eight projects at $5.6 million. This year alone we have two projects that are a little over a million dollars that we have to complete so those are a few of the things we're trying to do this year," said Tilton.
And to be clear, Mayor Tilton says Zanesville must take on the sewer work not because it wants to but because it has to.
"They don't give us any help, we have to find the money and get it done. Or, be fined for it. The EPA is a great thing, but when we have to deal with unfunded mandates, we're struggling. Right now, everybody is struggling with the economy ad we have to get these things done or be fined for it, it puts a tremendous strain on our budget," said Tilton.