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Ask The Mayor: Kokomo's Greg Goodnight Talks Budget

Kokomo residents are a month away from a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the city's YMCA, the recycling program is in full effect and Indiana University continues to invest into facilities at IU Kokomo.

On this week's installment of Ask The Mayor, 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.

This conversation has been edited for clarity and conciseness.

Hren: I hear it's official move in week at the new YMCA?

Goodnight: The official ribbon-cutting will be February 29th and we're really excited about that. It's really coming along. We like the aesthetics of the building, it's very modern, urban YMCA and I think it's something we can all be proud of.

Hren: The YMCA had a $16 million fund raising goal and when we talked last time, they had $5 million to go?

Goodnight: Well we just had an announcement of another couple million so we're somewhere around $3 million of hitting the goal. We had some large private donations to the Y so we'll continue the fundraising.

Hren: How's the implementation of the city curbside recycling program. I know that was being rolled out in sections.

Goodnight: We're fully in place now and has been since the end of the year. I think people realize there is a long term cost savings, it's not only good for the environment but it extends the life of landfills, it saves the city money.

Hren: What about the community recycling bins in town for those who live in apartments or condos that still want to recycle?

Goodnight: They can drop off 24/7 at the current recycling facility, the private contractor, they have a designated drop off areas in the north end of Kokomo.

Hren: I read a report in the Kokomo Herald that the city underspent last year's budget by about $5 million in a time where I talk with other mayors who are saving pennies or borrowing here and there?

Goodnight: Well we've done that now consecutively for eight years, part of it is we do watch every project, every dime throughout every department. So it's a balancing act, but we're very happy with how our department heads manage. We look at every position when someone may retire, is it something we can delegate to another department or share responsibility because personnel costs are still the biggest expense. We're very happy we were able to roll out our recycling program, you know we're one of the last cities that don't have a trash fee, do not have a recycling fee.

Hren: So where does that money go?

Goodnight: It rolls over, we put it in our reserves. Sometimes that will let us do a little extra paving, or we start doing sidewalks and the bids come in a little higher than we thought and there's always unexpected things... it could be a major piece of equipment breaking down or needing replaced.

Hren: And you rely on grants to help fund things too, like the one you found out about today that will help out over at the sewer plant.

Goodnight: Yes, through the state, a $100,000 centrifuge presses the sludge before it's hauled away to become a fertilizer product, but basically keeps us from hauling water. We pay to have that hauled away by the ton, so anytime we can reduce the amount of water that we're hauling, there's going to be a savings there. We hope to have it in place by the end of the year, but hope to save about $160,000 a year at our waste water treatment plant.

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