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Ask The Mayor: Kokomo's Goodnight On City Budget, Pole Signs

Kokomo Signs

The mayor's 2017 projects, city budget numbers, new state leadership, the pole sign ordinance and innkeeper's tax.

On this week's installment of Ask The Mayor, Kokomo Mayor Greg Goodnight addresses these issues and more. Listen to the full conversation with Indiana Newsdesk anchor Joe Hren by clicking on the play button above, or read some of the questions and answers below. A portion of this segment airs 6:45 and 8:45 a.m. Wednesday on WFIU.

This conversation has been edited for clarity and conciseness.

Hren: Let's start with some 2017 objectives for Kokomo, what's on your agenda for this year?

Goodnight: When the city street crews are not plowing snow, they're patching. We had three patch wagons out most of last week. The Flaherty & Collins project is underway, we have some town-homes being built directly behind the YMCA and the Vermilion assisted living facility - a $22 million private investment will tentatively begin end of March. (On the Apperson Way revamp from Markland to Home Street) we've been focusing on right sizing our streets, road diets, trying to make our community more walkable. Less pavement, less cost to maintain, median benefits make the city pedestrian friendly.

Hren: What about the current city budget as you roll into the new year, are numbers in line to what they need to be?

Goodnight: We came in 12 percent under budget. We actually spent less money overall in 2016 compared to 2015. Part of it was the mild winter and part of it was we did not get some of our resurfacing projects done because of the tornado that we experienced in August. We had extra expenses with that and employee healthcare costs. Hopefully we'll get a jump on the resurfacing this spring with a mild winter.

Hren: With this new year, a new administration from the statehouse to the White House, what’s your response now that we’ve heard Governor Holcomb’s State of the State address?

Goodnight: I've watched some of the appointments that he has made. One I think is a good move is he kept former INDOT Commissioner Brandye Hendrickson, he transitioned her into the more personnel role. But her replacement is now former mayor Mayor Joe McGuinness of Franklin. There's been a lot of positive feedback from that appointment and very respected within our group.

Hren: I read about the city limiting business pole signs along IN-931 and reducing them to ground signs within five years in an effort to increase the visual appeal. What’s the response been?

Goodnight: We have limitations because it's under state control, but one of the things we did a few years ago was any new signs had to be ground signs which eliminates sign clutter. The idea is to make these properties hold and increase in value so they have a return on investment so there may be a short term initial cost sometime in the next five years, but they get a return on that. Most of the response is more questions. Some of the business owners are community leaders and they get it so the dialogue has been pretty good.

Hren: Are local business owners worried about business and the cost associated with replacing signs?

Goodnight: That is the concern, yes. The franchises, it's just part of doing business and yes most of the feedback has come from the smaller, local ones, but we want to work with them and help them understand the long term benefit by doing this and I think we're going to be fine.

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