Last night, as we enjoyed the holiday tree lighting in our downtown, Santa came to Port Clinton in an antique pick-up truck, not the traditional fire truck entrance. This was not a planned change, but the result of an emergency.  Our fleet of fire trucks, along with trucks from 13 neighboring communities, were responding to a house fire on Hawthorne Lane, just off of Sheridan Road.

Why were so many fire trucks needed? As our firefighters were pulling water from the hydrants to extinguish the fire, the water main broke, dramatically diminishing the water pressure to the hoses.  Tanker trucks were brought in to assist, as was our Public Works Department. We are grateful for the efforts of our Public Works and Public Safety teams and those of our neighboring communities; no one was hurt, the fire is out and the main is repaired.

I have said it before and it bears repeating, for too long our City infrastructure was not a high enough priority. Long-needed capital projects were delayed and even basic maintenance was sometimes ignored. We have been taking steps to identify critical projects and have a 5-year capital plan to address investment in our City infrastructure. You saw a busy summer of construction this year including new water mains, our first new sidewalks in decades, and upgrades at our water treatment plant, with more to come in 2014. We are investing for the present as well as the future.

In our 2014 Budget, our priorities are public safety, infrastructure and fiscal stability.  We are addressing previously deferred maintenance and identifying and prioritizing capital projects with a multi-year budgeting perspective.  Despite expanding our capital investment budget, the operating budget for the City remains flat by our cutting non-essential spending and increasing efficiencies.  Like any business, fiscal stability requires focusing on core priorities within a long-term plan, not year to year.

As we head into the holiday season, I want to say thank you to our first responders, who put out the fire, as well as our Public Works crew who worked in frigid weather to fix the water main.  And thanks to lifetime resident Joe Peddle, who volunteered his 1949 Ford truck at the last minute to bring Santa to Port Clinton for our holiday celebration.  That’s what we do as a community.

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