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Columbus Mayor Fred Armstrong

Mayor looks to complete “Vision” in 2009

Columbus Mayor Fred Armstrong says the city will likely finish its downtown revitalization plan, in 2009 despite shortfalls in the city’s tax revenue.

The city began the “Vision 20/20” plan four years ago with the intent of bringing a new parking garage, indoor sports arena, hotels and office building to downtown. Armstrong says 2009 should see the last pieces of the puzzle completed or on their way to being so.

That includes a retooled Commons, Columbus’ downtown retail and meeting space. Armstrong says the Commons project will cost around $18 million. Half of that total has been donated by private individuals, companies and foundations.

“[It’s the] perfect time to be building this. Interest rates are way down. Steel prices are way down,” Armstrong said. “I look in 24 months that the economy will start to turn around, I hope. What better time to save taxpayer’s money when only half of the money will be bonded and at some really good interests rates and materials cost.”

Armstrong says the new Commons, which will feature an expanded indoor park and banquet areas will not add to the city’s architectural legacy. He says the city has a difficult time balancing the city’s want for architecturally distinguished buildings while also meeting its bottom line.

“This Commons: it’s not going to be an architectural wonder. It’s going to be a basic facility that looks pretty decent, okay?” Armstrong said. “But then again we’ve have a little help with architectural fees. How are you going to kick anybody in the teeth over that one?”

Armstrong says the city is also close to making “positive announcement” concerning an indoor sports arena at Mill Race Park within the next seven to ten days.

City Heads to Train in Business Management Strategy

To help the city shrink its budget in the face of falling property tax revenues, every department head in the city of Columbus will attend a class next week to learn a cost cutting methodology employed by many private companies. Columbus Mayor Fred Armstrong says the city personnel will train at Ivy Tech in the Six Sigma business management strategy. It’s a method that seeks to remove the causes of errors and redundancies in business practices. It also creates a karate-like belt designation system that indicates an individual’s level of Six Sigma competence. Armstrong says city heads will be going for their “yellow belt” designation.

“Hope they can run their departments better and more practical and for less money, if possible. Again, it’s sometimes more than dollars and sense savings. It’s just a new way of doing business,” Armstrong said. “How can you do something better moving less pieces of paper? Cut some corners. Get some things done quicker, but more efficiently. When there is a lack of communication, something happens, and it’s usually bad.”

Armstrong says department heads will spend their entire work days at Ivy Tech on January 16th striving towards their yellow belts.

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