The year 2012 comes to an end with four new Council members and one member returning.The administration provided a two day orientation to the Council to provide basic information and familiarize them with City government.The Council's first budget was completed in August and provides for improvements in infrastructure and City services.
ISAAC, a category one hurricane, pounded southeast Louisiana with hurricane winds and 36 hours of wave action that rivaled Katrina's crest. Most of our damage was confined to south of Monroe Street.Storm debris was removed from the City within 14 days of the storm event.Estimated cost of response, debris collection and repair of City property is expected to cost $2.5 million.FEMA will pay 75% of the approved damage cost of the storm.Our planning department is busy developing elevation grant opportunities for those who wish to raise their homes.We have begun the process of letting out bids for work to repair the lakefront and Sunset point.
We have improved communications in 2012 through water bill inserts, increased information on our web site and outbound messaging.In 2013 we will re-design our web site to be more interactive and provide more services to the public.We are planning to increase payments on line, applications, forms and ease of navigation.We are introducing "E-briefs" in January 2013, designed to offer a short weekly newsbreak on what is happening in the City; hopefully this will encourage more citizens to sign up for our outbound messages, fostering greater communication.
In 2012, the City implemented a paperless court system.It provided increased efficiency and allowed for on-line payments of traffic fines.We have started taking credit card payments over the phone as well as in person to broaden our payment options.In December we announced amnesty for all past traffic violations thru January 2013.Amnesty allows a traffic offender to pay only the traffic fine, thereby eliminating contempt of court and other court costs.After January we will be more aggressive in collecting the fines.The City has over $200,000 in outstanding fines that cover over a 5 year period of time.
The City Council adopted the September 1, 2012 - August 31, 2013 budget for City operations and capital projects.This year's budget better identifies capital projects with more detail and specific funding identified.The administration has separated each sales tax fund balance and federal/ state grant funding to give the Council and public a more detailed look into City finances in monthly reporting.A copy of the budget and updated monthly reports are on the web site.We are already working on next year's budget for improvements.
Water bills can be paid on line.We are working to provide payments on line for other City services in 2013, including police fines, occupational licenses, permits and more.
The City's planning department incorporates permits for signs, new construction, and additions to existing commercial and residential buildings.Hurricane ISAAC added more work with FEMA applications for elevation grants and floodplain management.
Planning and Zoning looks at land use and the separation of use for commercial and residential properties.A major issue was the request from Our Lady of the Lake Parish to build a new church.The zoning board voted 7-0 to deny the application and OLL's appeal was denied by Judge Will Crain in the 22ndJudicial District Court.OLL has resubmitted the same size building with fewer seats for P&Z to consider.The process will restart in January 2013.
Planning is finalizing their short term work program with recommendations in parking, signage, and environmental issues.In 2013, this department will continue to introduce ordinance changes that will address the recommendations from 2012.
The planned Historic District under consideration has drawn notice and a good deal of conversation.Discussions will continue in 2013 regarding fine tuning of the Historic Ordinance.A clarification in the height ordinance is proposed to formulate how the height is calculated.
A Zoning permit was approved for the construction of a Congregate Living Residential facility for Alzheimer's patients located on 2.58 acres of land on Hwy 22 and Beau West.Construction is to begin sometime in the first half of 2013.
The City worked with FEMA to create new flood elevation requirements that saved most homeowners money on their Flood Protection Insurance. These new flood maps were the first changes in 30 years.To spread awareness, the department held community meetings on 3 different evenings so that property owners could ask questions to FEMA, State and City personnel in order to determine how the new maps would affect them as individuals.Additionally, the City revised the Flood Hazard Prevention Ordinance to not only reflect the map changes but to also take advantage of all discounts available to citizen flood insurance through the City enforcing higher regulatory standards.
At the same time the new flood maps were becoming effective, the permits office began its transition to a state-of-the-art permitting software called My Permits Now.The software is a web-based product developed by a local group following Hurricane Katrina.The system allows building plans to be completely uploaded to the software in order to streamline the plan review process among City personnel.Additionally, through a customer portal, constituents are able to see the status of their permits as various components are reviewed and approved.In the future, the system will also allow for contractors and constituents to apply for permits and schedule inspections online.
For a number of constituents, 2013 will be the year for Hurricane Isaac related home elevations through the federal Hazard Mitigation Grant Program.The department will act throughout the process as the constituent's conduit for information, permitting and assurance that floodplain management guidelines are being met by their project.
Parks and Parkways is a standing committee of the Planning Department.Many are Master Gardeners and help keep our City green with tree planting and educational activities during the year.They are in the middle of their re-leaf project and are preparing to plant 100 new trees in the City in 2013.We plan to increase the program next year.
Our City continues to enjoy a low crime rate.The response our police provide is an asset in fighting crime.It sends the message, "Crime is dealt with quickly in Mandeville."We are constantly looking for ways to better deploy traffic units and patrols.
In 2012, MPD began implementing a new records management system with police car tracking to determine closest response.The new system should be implemented by April/ May of 2013.
Mandeville DARE Officer Darren Powell was named President of Louisiana's DARE organization and will serve until July 2013 when we host the state convention.
Lieutenant Kalford Miazza has received one of six honorable mentions designated by the Louisiana Civil Service League for the Charles E. Dunbar, Jr. Career Service Award, honoring Louisiana's Outstanding Merit Public Employees under State and Local Civil Service for 2012.
We are part of the Parish's Narcotics Task Force and our own Chief, Rick Richard meets quarterly with the Sheriff and other chiefs across the parish.
Additional MPD statistical information can be found on the web site.
Traffic is always a hot topic; however Mandeville is surrounded by roads that are controlled by the LA Department of Transportation.DOTD has a project to widen Hwy 190 and the Chinchuba Bridge between Lonesome Road and Hwy 22 that has been designed and let for bid.The construction start date is expected to be April of 2013.
There is also a road widening and drainage project on Hwy 22 from Dalwill Drive to the Northlake Shopping Center.The new bid date for construction is August 2013.The project will add a lane westbound on Hwy 22 and will provide needed drainage relief in front of Rouquette Lodge.
Just outside the City on Hwy 59, DOTD is adding a right turn lane onto Hwy 1088.The project is just getting underway.Stranco is the contractor.
The Greater N.O. Expressway Commission has plans to resurface the East Causeway Approach in Summer 2013 and the West Causeway Approach in 2014.The City is working with the GNOEC and the Regional Transit Authority to improve pedestrian and bike paths connectivity around Mandeville.
New signaling with safer pedestrian/bike access is in the engineering process for the East Causeway Approach at Monroe Street.We are building connectivity from the new pedestrian bridge with striping to identify bike and pedestrian traffic sharing the road with automobiles.
New software is in the process of being installed and will be completed in 2013 to provide better tracking of road repairs and anticipating future needs.The system is a recommendation from the citizen's long range finance committee and will enhance the planning process.
Drainage projects are underway for Coffee Street and Lotus Drive. Stranco is the contractor for the Coffee Street drainage project and GEC is engineering the Lotus Drive drainage project in Beau Rivage.
Sewer and Water
In 2012 the City signed a contract with CES to perform flow monitoring on our sewer lift stations.This information is being analyzed and saves tax dollars by specifically identifying projects to maintain our sewer system.
In addition, the City has entered into an agreement with St. Tammany Parish to accept sewer from outside the City to our own sewer treatment plant and release the effluent into the marsh.The parish's 2008 agreement with the City provided funds to increase the sewer plant operations beyond our needed capacity.The City will charge the parish per gallon to process its flow.
The City has entered into an agreement with Richard Lambert Engineers to design a foundation and supervise the installation of a new water tower.The current water tower is in need of repair and work will begin after the new tower is in place.The project is funded through a state grant and sales tax.The new tower is to be located on the east side of the City just off Hwy 190.
New water lines are planned for Old Golden Shores and we will be working with CLECO to minimize disruption in the neighborhood to accomplish City replacement of water lines and CLECO upgrades.
KEEP MANDEVILLE BEAUTIFUL
KMB, managed by Susan Russell, has a strong board of directors that looks at City improvements in litter control, recycling and beautification. Our City was awarded first in our district and third in the state for the Cleanest City Award.KMB was named the top affiliate member in Keep Louisiana Beautiful.
New programs in recent years have added an emphasis on recycling and KMB's new puppet show for early education is sure to be a big hit. The puppet show was Susan Russell's idea and the board supported her efforts.The collaboration of retired teachers writing the script, Mandeville High Talented Drama students performing the voice over and the volunteer group, Women of Infinite Possibilities, giving their time to create the presentation, made for a community effort. The first presentation was at Cedarwood School.The kids were engaged and responded; it proved a successful method in reaching them with the important message of recycling.
Many of you have heard talk in the news about fiscal cliffs and the economy which effects all of us.The City continues to review our City employee's total compensation including their pay and benefits to ensure that we recruit and retain the best workers while being fiscally responsible to our citizens.In a continuing effort to do this the Human Resources department has begun a job study of 48 positions in City employment that will continue into 2013.Many positions will see a change in their job descriptions due to job enlargement and technology upgrades.I hope to have a reorganization recommendation to the City Council which more closely reflects the needs of our residents and City employees prior to the next budget session.
Gretchen McKinney, Human Resource Director, is currently the State Director of the Louisiana Society for Human Resource Management for 2013-2014. We are proud of her accomplishment and her desire to further her knowledge and experience.
The Cultural Development Department was created to develop a Cultural Arts Program with the focus of increasing community education, visitor and business participation in arts and cultural endeavors in the City of Mandeville. The City's commitment to strengthening its brand identity as a place that values arts/culture could yield a number of benefits, including:
·Visits by residents of the overall metro area for special events, on-going performances and exhibits resulting in increased awareness of the City as well as sales tax revenue
·Having controlled, organized and clean, family oriented nightlife promoting resident and visitor entertainment and relaxation for all ages
·Positioning Mandeville as a desirable location with community amenities and ideal quality of life factors.
·Noticeability encourages leveraging of state and private funding (grants) and corporate sponsorships to decrease City investment.
·An opportunity to be recognized for model programs in terms of community support of arts education.
We had a full Season of events including Spring and Fall; a6 week series of concerts, Easter Eggstravaganza, Sunset Symphony on the Lake: An Evening with the LPO, Winter on the Water,and this year we added The Mandeville October Feast; a 4-day wine, food and art experience.We continue to partner with local restaurants to provide food at the events, which affords them revenue opportunities as well as promotional and marketing exposure.
The City entered into a cooperative endeavor agreement with Pelican Park to provide art & leisure activities, and the St. Tammany Art Association to provide art & theater camps both held at the Trailhead.We held a "Cultural Districts Mean Business" seminar to educate residents and business owners about the tax incentives available in the Old Mandeville Cultural District.
The City applied for and received $5,000 St. Tammany Tourist Commission Facilities Grant to improve the lighting on the Trailhead Amphitheater stage.We also received a $1,500 Jazz & Heritage Foundation Grant to develop an event to promote and celebrate the history of jazz in Mandeville.
The Trailhead has become a vital part of our community, providing a recognized town meeting place for citizens.The addition of the microbrewery and restaurant across from the Trailhead on Girod Street is soon to open and promises to be a great place to gather.