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The Premier Magazine For America’s Municipalities

December 2020

2020 Review/2021 Outlook

Proven Future Technology Available Now Long Lasting & Environmentally Friendly

INSIDE: Cities prepare to weather pandemic’s fiscal impact Mayors’ outlook for 2021

Bolingbrook, IL Permit No. 1939

PAID PRSRT STD U.S. POSTAGE

www.themunicipal.com

Workforce housing prioritized


DECEMBER 2020 | THE MUNICIPAL  3


Contents

December 2020 | VOL. 11 No. 9 | www.themunicipal.com

18 17 F  ocus on: 2020 Review/2021 Outlook Focus on 2020 34 18 Review/2021 Outlook: How COVID-19 is affecting cities’ coffers

22 Focus on 2020

Review/2021 Outlook: Mayors reflect on 2020, plan for 2021

26 Focus on 2020

44

Review/2021 Outlook: Overcoming racial unrest: A primer

30 Focus on 2020

Review/2021 Outlook: Cities search for workforce housing solutions

34 Focus on 2020

Review/2021 Outlook: Digital signatures yield safety and efficiencies

40 Building & Construction: Mesa working on multiple project developments to transform downtown

44 Public Safety: CAHOOTS serves as crisis intervention resource in its communities

46 Maintenance &

Opeerations: Owensboro, Ky., avoids rise in unemployment during pandemic

50 Holiday: Cities come alive to light up the holidays

54 Waste & Recycling:

Towns get creative to give Christmas trees a second life

54

December 2020

ON THE COVER PAVIX penetrates the surface of cured concrete to fill and seal the pores and capillary voids. Using advanced dual crystalline diffusion technology, it mitigates water/vapor; resists deicing chemicals, jet fuel and oils; and eliminates bacterial growth. Longer-lasting concrete is now in reach. Learn more on page 10.

2020 Review/2021 Outlook

Proven Future Technology Available Now Long Lasting & Environmentally Friendly

www.themunicipal.com

4   THE MUNICIPAL | DECEMBER 2020


Departments

Meet our Staff publisher RON BAUMGARTNER rbaumgartner@the-papers.com

editor-in-chief DEB PATTERSON dpatterson@the-papers.com

8 Editor’s Note 10 From the Cover: Innovative product reshapes concrete use forever

12 Unique Claims to Fame: Hildene editor SARAH WRIGHT swright@the-papers.com

publication manager CHRIS SMITH chris@themunicipal.com

Lincoln Family Home, Manchester, Vt.

14 City Seals: Lake Charles, La. 36 Advertiser Directory 38 Personality Profile: Dedicated to service: Pineville, La., Mayor

senior account executive REES WOODCOCK rees@themunicipal.com

58 Conference Calendar 59 Product Spotlights

graphic designer MARY LESTER mlester@the-papers.com

business manager CARRIE GORALCZYK cgoralczyk@the-papers.com

Clarence Fields

64 Top 10: Most Pet-Friendly Cities director of marketing STEVE MEADOWS smeadows@the-papers.com

mail manager KHOEUN KHOEUTH kkhoeuth@the-papers.com

65 Advertiser Index

from The Municipal Staff

WWW.THEMUNICIPAL.COM PO Box 188 • 206 S. Main St., Milford, IN 46542 866-580-1138/Fax 800–886–3796 Editorial Ext. 2307; Advertising Ext. 2505, 2408 or 2489

6   THE MUNICIPAL | DECEMBER 2020

The Municipal does not knowingly accept false or misleading advertising or editorial content, nor does The Municipal or its staff assume responsibility should such advertising or editorial content appear in any publication. The Municipal reserves the right to determine the suitability of all materials submitted for publication and to edit all submitted materials for clarity and space. The Municipal has not independently tested any services or products advertised herein and has verified no claims made by its advertisers regarding those services or products. The Municipal makes no warranties or representations and assumes no liability for any claims regarding those services or products or claims made by advertisers regarding such products or services. Readers are advised to consult with the advertiser regarding any such claims and regarding the suitability of an advertiser’s products. No reproduction of The Municipal is allowed without express written permission. Copyright © 2020.


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Editor’s Note

Moving forward together Sarah Wright | Editor

W

hile swapping a single digit isn’t likely to change much in the grand scheme of things, it will be a little rewarding to see 2020 in the rearview mirror. All years hold their challenges, but 2020 felt like it was on another level, with one wrench after another being thrown. To top it off, it was a presidential election year, and this one, like 2016, was polarizing. Writing this on Election Day, I have no clue how it all went — if there have been any court cases or even who won. All I can hope for at this junction is unity no matter the final tally. Unity will help propel economic recovery in the face of COVID-19, which has impacted some sections of the country harder than others. Economists have different schools of thought on our current recession, featuring several alphabet terms like V-shaped, K-shaped, L-shaped or U-shaped recovery. Some, instead, favor terms like checkmark recovery. Meanwhile, Gabriel Mathy, an assistant professor of economics at American University, told Money.com our recovery could very well be Nike swooshshaped, where “we would see an initial fast recovery that then slows down.” COVID-19 remains an omnipresent factor that will determine the ultimate shape of recovery. The actions of the federal government will also impact it, as will the actions of state and local governments — perhaps more so. As noted by Candace Cannistraro, management and budget director for the city of Mesa, Ariz., in writer Denise Fedorow’s article this month, city officials are usually more attuned to the needs of their community members and businesses, thus better suited to aid them. This proves to be a general theme that carries into Amanda Demster’s article, “Mayors reflect on 2020, plan for 2021,” where both mayors interviewed — Joyce Craig of Manchester, N.H., and Knox White of Greenville, S.C. — have emphasized supporting local businesses in ways that best suit their communities. Tied into the

8   THE MUNICIPAL | DECEMBER 2020

mayors’ focus on economic development is affordable housing, a topic Demster further explores in “Cities search for workforce housing solutions,” which highlights two very different housing programs from Florida and Indiana. COVID isn’t the only issue faced by the U.S. and municipalities in 2020 that will carry over into 2021. Protests are likely to continue, and many cities will continue to grapple with racial tension. Writer Ray Balogh highlights how Ferguson, Mo., has moved toward healing following the death of Michael Brown in 2014 with the election of its first Black mayor in 2020 and the implementation of a federal consent decree, which was adopted in 2016. Additionally, for cities grappling with race, he outlines steps the National League of Cities and the Community Relations Service of the U.S. Department of Justice have recommended to reduce tensions. 2021 is bound to have its turbulence, but with all things, it will pass. What matters is we pull together and face the challenges before us together. As always, the staff of The Municipal wishes all of our readers a happy holiday season and a happy new year! Stay well, everyone! 


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From The Cover

Innovative product reshapes concrete use forever By SARAH WRIGHT | The Municipal

I

n areas with harsh winter conditions, concrete takes a beating. Common deicers can result in calcium oxychloride growth that rots concrete joints, and freeze-and-thaw cycles cause surface delamination or scaling. Such deterioration proves frustrating when it occurs well before the concrete’s life expectancy is up. However, an innovative product is available to solve this issue. PAVIX, a unique dual crystalline waterproofing product, penetrates the surface of cured concrete to fill and seal the pores and capillary voids. This advance technology results in not only longer-lasting concrete but also the ability for municipalities to show their constituents they are pursuing environmentally friendly options. Being 100% green with no volatile organic compounds, PAVIX uses dual crystalline diffusion technology. When hydrated, the hydrophilic crystals expand while the hygroscopic crystals grow toward moisture. Together, they mitigate water/vapor; resist deicing chemicals, jet fuel and oils; and eliminate bacterial growth. When dehydrated, the crystals shrink to allow for faster evaporation. Because of its active chemistry, Vice President of Sales and Marketing for ICC Distribution Group Mark Chew added PAVIX actually has a secondary benefit: During a rain event, it self-cleanses concrete, purging previous deicing chemicals out of the surface, while protecting against and purging future oils, fuels and other concrete contaminants out of the capillaries and off the surface. “When the crystals are in their hydrated phase, they are generating a small amount of energy or activity,” explained Chew. “Because of this

10   THE MUNICIPAL | DECEMBER 2020

PAVIX’s dual crystalline diffusion technology prevents water from penetrating into cracks formed in concrete. (Photos provided)

absorption and diffusion activity, water cannot penetrate the pores and capillaries, so the ice will be there, but with much less adhesion.” Seeing is believing, and Chew described one client who had opted to only treat half a parking lot with PAVIX as a test. Afterward in early spring, a rain event occurred. Their customer sent ICC a photo. “It looked like it’d been Photoshopped,” Chew said. “The side that had been treated was 100% dry. On the untreated side, there was water and slush that refroze when the temps dropped again.”


If there’s concrete — whether it’s a street, bridge deck, parking lot, sidewalk or airport — it needs PAVIX. Concrete joints have become prime candidates for PAVIX. “Joint deterioration is the main reason we got in the business,” Chew said. “PAVIX makes it so the destructive chemistry caused by deicing chemicals cannot occur.” ICC Distribution Group and International Chemcrete have had this advanced technology “PAVIX” put under some of the most stringent testing by several third-party labs, the CP Technical Center at Iowa State and Brunel University, London, England. Most currently much more advanced testing taking place at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Several of these test results are available at www. iccdistributiongroup.com. For time-crunched cities struggling to find workers, PAVIX saves time and headaches by reducing maintenance demands and offering ice mitigation that can boost the performance of more green deicers. Or use less of the current deicers because they will now be much more efficient. The de-icing chemicals will be on the surface not in your concrete. “Once applied, retreatments are not required as long as the surface substrate is intact, we have Midwest parking lots and bridges 15 years later with no retreatment performing really well,” Chew stated. Bob Schiesl, assistant city engineer for Dubuque, Iowa, said keeping concrete in good condition is a challenge for his Midwest city with its climate, and upon learning about PAVIX, Dubuque had to test it out. “The city of Dubuque uses it on all of our bridge decks,” he said. “We’ve also applied it to some street projects where we did a dowel bar retrofit, reinforcing the dowel joints and protecting them from deicing chemicals.” City workers applied the PAVIX on the bridge decks themselves while one of the city’s contractors handled the dowel joint retrofit. “We’re really pleased with the product,” Schiesl said. “It was easy to apply.” The city currently monitors areas that have been treated with PAVIX to judge performance over time, with Schiesl noting, so far, everyone has been pleased with what they are seeing, and there is hope about finding cost savings over time. “If we can get longevity out of our bridges, that is a massive benefit,” he said. Quick PAVIX Facts How long does PAVIX last? Pavix product application is long lasting. Once placed, the crystals remain active indefinitely. Its unique crystalline growth structure will not deteriorate.

How resistant is PAVIX to chemicals? Based on independent testing, PAVIX is not affected by a wide range of chemicals, including mild acids, solvents, chlorides and caustic materials. It is resistant to oils and jet fuels. And it protects against glycol and deicing liquid as well. PAVIX greatly enhances glycol reclamation effects, and it has the ability to shed glycol off of the surface to the reclamation tanks. Is PAVIX affected by temperature, humidity, ultraviolet and oxygen levels? Humidity, ultraviolet and oxygen level (oxidation) have no effect on PAVIX. As humidity increases, the crystals actually swell in the capillaries to block moisture from entering the capillary. Does PAVIX protect reinforcing steel? Yes. By preventing the intrusion of chemicals, salt water, sewage and other harmful materials, PAVIX protects concrete and reinforcing steel from deterioration and oxidation. If corrosion is already present, it will slow the process by not allowing further moisture to enter. Can PAVIX be applied against hydrostatic pressure? Yes. Because PAVIX is not dependent upon adhesion to the concrete surface and instead becomes an integral part of the concrete mass through crystallization, it is capable of resisting hydrostatic pressure from either side (positive or negative) of the concrete. Is PAVIX used to waterproof cracks, joints and other defects in concrete? Yes. PAVIX has a specific repair system that utilizes its unique crystalline waterproofing technology to stop water flow through up to 1/16-inch cracks. In the case of expansion joints or chronic moving cracks, a flexible sealant is recommended. Is PAVIX suitable for use on surfaces other than concrete? PAVIX is totally compatible with the chemistry of concrete, whether poured in-place, pre-cast or concrete block. PAVIX may also be used on mortar, limestone, sandstone, plaster, stucco, efis, terrazzo, exposed aggregate and any sand aggregate cement combination. Can paint and other finishing materials be applied over a PAVIX coating? Yes. Paint, cement purge coats, plaster and stucco can be applied or installed over concrete protected with PAVIX. What are some typical PAVIX applications? PAVIX can be applied to any concrete surface. Applications include bridge decks, airport runways, aprons, taxiways, rams, deicing areas, hangars, tunnels, parking structures, sidewalks, foundations, roof decks and exterior below grade construction. What is the recommended application rate for PAVIX? Typically, a coverage rate of between 150 and 200 square feet per gallon will provide ample coverage. Consultation with the manufacturer’s technical department or a local PAVIX representative for assistance in determining the appropriate dosage rate based on specific requirements and condition of your project. How easy is it to apply PAVIX? One single application of PAVIX is all you need. PAVIX is the viscosity of water and applied so. Using a low PSI sprayer (backpack or boom) make it simple to apply. You can apply PAVIX on freshly poured concrete at de-bleeding/ de-watering stage as long as there’s a curing compound used immediately after. Thus, the construction process is not slowed.  For more information, visit www.iccdistributiongroup.com or call (641) 757-2555.

DECEMBER 2020 | THE MUNICIPAL  11


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Unique Claims To Fame

Hildene Lincoln Family Home Manchester, Vt. By RAY BALOGH | The Municipal

The preponderance of reviews from visitors of Hildene, the Lincoln Family Home, reiterate one word to describe their experience: “beautiful.”

Robert Todd Lincoln’s Franklin Roadster was also used by Teddy Roosevelt as he traveled between Chicago and Milwaukee in October 1912 at the height of his campaign for U.S. president on the Bull Moose ticket. (Lee Snider/Shutterstock.com)

12   THE MUNICIPAL | DECEMBER 2020

The 24-room Georgian revival mansion, with a formal garden, observatory and 13 other historic buildings just outside Manchester, Vt., was home to Robert Todd Lincoln, the only one of the late president’s children who survived to adulthood, and his wife, Mary. He constructed the home in 1905, and members of the Lincoln lineage lived there until 1975, when Peggy Beckwith, the last surviving descendant to live at Hildene, passed away. She willed the property to the Church of Christ, Scientist with the stipulation the church maintain Hildene as a memorial to the Lincoln family. Shortly after the property was transferred, however, the church found the arrangement to be financial unfeasible and planned to sell Hildene to developers. When local citizens learned of the plans, they formed the nonprofit Friends of Hildene, fought a three-year legal battle to purchase the property, negotiated an acceptable price with the church and commenced in 1978 to restore the home and gardens. Robert (1843-1926) first visited Manchester with his mother and brother Tad in 1864 and developed an affinity for the place. He returned four decades later as president of the Pullman Company, then the nation’s largest manufacturing corporation, and purchased


LEFT: The 24-room mansion is one of 14 historic buildings on the 412-acre grounds of Hildene near Manchester, Vt. (Lee Snider/ Shutterstock.com)

the 412 acres upon which the estate, built as a summer home, is situated. The estate’s name is derived from the Old English words “hil” (hill) and “dene” (valley with stream) and denotes the views of the Taconic Mountains to the west, Green Mountains to the east and the nearby Battenkill River flowing through the adjoining valley. Included in the curtilage are a fully restored 1903 Pullman car; goat dairy and cheese-making facility; teaching greenhouse; composting facility; vegetable gardens; apple orchard; animal barn; 1832 schoolhouse; 12 miles of walking trails; and a 600-foot floating boardwalk on the property’s wetland. The historic carriage barn now serves as the museum store. Over 90% of the furniture and appointments are original, and visitors can get a deeply insightful depiction of how Robert and Mary lived during their stay in the home. “The American Ideal” exhibit on the second floor features Abraham Lincoln’s Bible and stovepipe hat. The prolific terraced Cutting and Kitchen Gardens provided the Lincoln family with a variety of vegetables, berries and fruit. Shepherded since 2002 by professional gardeners and their volunteers, the gardens yield 500 to 800 pounds of produce each year, and the Friends of Hildene have donated to the Manchester Community Food Cupboard nearly 6,000 pounds of food in the last 18 years. This year herbs were added to the gardens’ agricultural repertoire. Reviews from visitors have been overwhelmingly positive, with 97.4% of the 1,347 reviews on www.tripadvisor.com rating the experience as excellent or very good and not a single review is posted below the average ranking. Reviewer Annie M. succinctly feted her visit this way: “Beautiful. Spend a day or half the day. Worth every penny. View of the mountains from the garden is spectacular. The home is intriguing with the organ music. Quite modern for a home built back then.” Lynda F. was captured by the flower garden. “Hildene is one of those remarkable hidden gems in New England,” she wrote. “When we were there, the garden was in full bloom and we could see that it had been planted to mimic a stained glass window. How cool is that?” Several reviewers complimented the knowledgeable staff, who explained the history and features of the attraction. Others, like themontanatravelgirl, enjoyed the self-guided tours. “I really like that you could walk through the house at your own pace without a guided group.” Weddings and receptions are a staple at Hildene and can be booked in advance through the front office. Hildene is usually open daily year-round from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., though hours are currently abbreviated to 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday through Monday due to coronavirus restrictions. The attraction is closed Easter, Thanksgiving and Dec. 24-26. Hildene is located at 1005 Hildene Road, Manchester, Vt. For more information, call (800) 578-1788 or visit hildene.org. 

Robert Todd Lincoln served as president of Pullman Company, which manufactured railroad cars. (Photo provided by Friends of Hildene)

President Abraham Lincoln’s stovepipe hat and his Bible are on display on the second floor of Hildene, the Lincoln Family Home. (Photo provided by Friends of Hildene)

One of the bedrooms of Hildene includes a child’s block set, indicating the family life of the descendants of Abraham Lincoln. (Photo provided by Friends of Hildene)

DECEMBER 2020 | THE MUNICIPAL  13


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City Seals

Lake Charles, La. Lake Charles, La., has a rich and diverse heritage, as reflected in its multifaceted city logo. Depictions of natural resources and various industries preponderate the nine images circumscribed by a ship’s helm wheel. The symbols reflect the contributions the land, water and air play in the city’s past and present commerce. The sectors inside the wheel depict, clockwise from the upper right, the rice industry, oil drilling, fishing, petrochemical industry, aviation, farming, urban landscape, lumber industry and wooded scenery. In the center is an image of a cargo ship, paying tribute to the importance of nautical shipping for the city of 80,169 located 30 miles inland from the Gulf of Mexico, which is accessible via the Calcasieu River. Early in its history, Acadians who migrated from the north took advantage of the area’s hot, humid climate — which averages 90% humidity in the morning and 72% in the afternoon — and wetland soils to cultivate, mill and market rice. Lake Charles hosts 30 oil and gas field companies in a state historically rich in the commodity. Before the oil boom a century ago, Native Americans used the abundant surface hydrocarbons as a medicine and mosquito repellent. During and after World War II, petrochemical refineries sprang up, rivaling the town’s lumber industry as its main economic engine. Oak, pine and cypress trees dot the plains around the city, situated 13 feet above sea level. The state’s first military airfield was constructed near Lake Charles, along with a large aviation training camp that operated from 1917 to 1921. Gerstner Field contained 90 buildings, including 24 hangars, barracks, shops, YMCAs and headquarters, employed more than 2,000 military personnel and graduated 499 fighter pilots and aviation instructors during World War I. Lake Charles was first settled in 1781 by a French couple, the LeBleus, who lived in peaceful coexistence with several local Native American tribes. Other pioneers quickly followed, and the town’s namesake, Charles Sallier, married the LeBleus’ daughter, Catherine, and built their home in what was first dubbed Charleston or Charles Town. The earliest residents consisted of a mix of English, French, Spanish and Dutch settlers. The settlement was first incorporated on March 7, 1861, as Charleston. The governmental seat of Calcasieu Parish was moved to Charleston and the city was reincorporated as Lake Charles on March 16, 1867. In the 1880s the town’s population quadrupled and cultural activities flourished, in part because of the area’s geographic proximity to Texas. Entertainers traveling from New Orleans to Texas would stop at Lake Charles and perform Sunday shows to skirt the Lone Star State’s Sunday closing laws. Today the largest job sectors in Lake Charles include health care, education, construction, petrochemicals, food services, arts, entertainment and recreation. Lake Charles is also known as the Festival Capital of Louisiana and relies significantly on the tourism trade. For more information, visit www.cityoflakecharles.com.  14   THE MUNICIPAL  |  DECEMBER 2020

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Focus on: 2020 Review/2021 Outlook

$90 million

The city of Mesa, Ariz., received this amount in CARES Act funding for COVID-19 relief, which enabled it to offer rental and utility assistance.

CARES Act

Coronavirus Aid Relief Economic Security Act

Read how COVID-19 will affect city finances on page 18.

$5,000 Manchester, N.H., offered a small business resiliency grant of up to this amount. Eligible small businesses could use the funds to expand outdoor seating, purchase Plexiglas dividers and do anything else that would improve COVID-19 safety. Two mayors share their thoughts on 2020 and outlooks for 2021 on page 22.

$500,000

The Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority awarded two $500,000 grants for cities to put toward its Modular Workforce Housing Pilot Program.

Learn how cities are developing workforce housing on page 30.

12.6 million The number of Americans unemployed due to the COVID-19 pandemic in total as of Oct. 29.

Source: https://wallethub.com/edu/states-unemployment-claims/72730

Focus on:

2020 Review 2021 Outlook 200 miles Roswell, N.M., is about this many miles from the next bigger city. For this reason, it negotiated a financial agreement with American Airlines to keep some reduced service rather than have all flights suspended.

Source: https://www.cnbc.com/2020/10/23/coronavirus-travel-airlines-cut-service-tosmall-airports.html

53% Dr. Richard Rosenfeld, who has studied crime trends during the pandemic for the Council on Criminal Justice, found that homicides increased an average of 53% across 20 major American cities during the summer. Source: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/10/29/us/coronavirus-murders.html

335 Between 2015 and the first quarter of 2020, U.S. cities signed this number of renewable energy deals totaling 8.28 gigawatts — roughly the same as the collective electric generation capacity in Alaska, Hawaii, Rhode Island and Vermont. Source: https://www.greenbiz.com/article/ five-trends-us-cities-and-counties-are-going-renewable

DECEMBER 2020  |  THE MUNICIPAL  17


M Focus on: 2020 Review/2021 Outlook

How COVID-19 is affecting cities’ coffers

By DENISE FEDOROW | The Municipal

As this year wraps up still in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, we wanted to take a look at how cities were affected and how they’re bracing for what could be some difficult fiscal years ahead. According to the Brookings Institute’s March 31, 2020, article by Michael A. Pagano and Christiana K. McFarland, “When will your city feel the fiscal impact of COVID-19,” it will depend largely on how a municipality receives the majority of its funding: whether from sales and income tax or property tax revenue. “To understand when cities can anticipate the brunt of COVID-19’s impact on their general fund reserves, we examined the extent to which a city relies on general tax services that respond quickly to economic swings,” the article’s authors write. The article further states another important factor is if the regional economy is made up of more coronavirus-related employment declines. The writers predicted many heartland cities might feel the impact harder and quicker than other cities. Cities like Columbus, Ohio, with a general fund that’s 76% comprised from income tax, or Tulsa, Okla., and Lincoln, Neb., which also have a large percentage of revenue from income tax, were all vulnerable to immediate impact. One factor that might have made a difference in how those cities and others 18   THE MUNICIPAL  |  DECEMBER 2020

like them fared is how Coronavirus Aid Relief and Economic Security Act funds were distributed. Mesa, Ariz. For example, in the city of Mesa even though the majority of the funding comes from sales tax and intergovernmental revenue through the state, a few things worked in its favor. The first bit of good new s— it was the direct recipient of CARES Act funding. The city’s population is approximately 518,000 and the cut off was 500,000, according to Candace Cannistraro, management and budget director for the city of Mesa. Cannistraro said the city received $90 million toward COVID-19 relief, and it offered community programs through Mesa CARES. It was able to offer rental assistance and utility assistance, paying up to three months. “And we’re not just doing it for city-owned utilities,” she said. Mesa CARES has a small business program offering mortgage and utility assistance and a Small Business Reemergence Program that offers technical assistance, helping small businesses learn “how to reinvent in this new

world and how to use social media and the internet to get customers coming to them.” CARES Act funds also allowed the city to offset about $50 million in public safety issues, with the funds being used for fire and medical in addition to police patrol. Cannistraro said the city didn’t get the impact of COVID-19 until the end of March when the stay-at-home orders were enacted and sales tax revenue decreased, but about two months in, when some businesses started reopening, Mesa’s sales tax revenue was greater than in past years. “Usually (in Mesa) people leave in the summer — they take off for the beaches or northern Arizona (to escape triple digit temperatures) so our sales tax is generally lower during the summer. Now with everyone staying home and not traveling, it was actually beneficial for the city,” she said. Most people are shopping locally and shopping online, and since the sales are taxed to the home address, the city received revenue on the online purchases, too. Cannistraro said the August activity was 10% higher than August of last year. “The spike was in June — now it’s down, but it’s still higher than last year,” she said. Being proactive at the beginning helped Mesa, with Cannistraro stating, “One thing we do very well is react very swiftly when economic risks arise.”


In 2017-2018, the city added a public safety tax both for police and for fire and medical. Another thing that has helped Mesa weather this pandemic storm is its financial forecasting. Cannistraro said Mesa does a five-year forecast, and for the past two years, it has already assumed a recession was coming this year. “At the end of the day, we were off by six months; we thought January of 2021,” she said, adding the city didn’t know what would be the cause, but “looking at economics and economic cycles, we were due so we already put it in the forecast.” Forecasting on an ongoing basis allows Mesa to look at whether the economy changed greater than it anticipated, and because it was already planning for a recession, “we shouldn’t have to change our long-term plan greatly.” With all these unfortunate events, “we were pleasantly surprised we do have revenue to get us through this fiscal year,” she said.

Mesa City Plaza is near an Arizona State University campus in downtown Mesa. (Photo provided)

As Mesa officials reevaluated their financial situation and realized city-operated libraries, museums and theaters “would not be opening anytime soon, we tried to reassign all full-time employees where we could,” but Cannistraro said some staff reductions occurred, mostly with part-time workers, but some full-time employees were cut as well. “Because of our swiftness in reacting we were able to cut expenses,” she said. Mesa also enacted a hiring freeze, which is still in effect. “We don’t know what next year will look like or what the lingering effects will be,” she said, adding the city recently updated its audit, finance and enterprise committee. Cannistraro said the city of Mesa doesn’t have a primary property tax — just a secondary one for reduction of debt, not operating or public safety, but it’s been good for the city. “We’re the largest city in the country without a primary property tax.” According to Cannistraro, the state of Arizona limits the assessed value — it can only increase by 5% — but the market value has gone up significantly as Mesa has seen a lot of growth in the housing market. She said the construction sales tax never faltered and construction did not slow down during the pandemic — even the city’s construction projects had no delays. New construction is up 7%, which is good for residents as new builds take the pressure off them.

Future forecast Because of the uncertainty of what lies ahead, officials are looking at a variety of factors affecting Mesa fiscally. Cannistraro said officials feel a factor in the sales tax increase was the expanded federal unemployment. Workers who usually got $200 a week were getting $600 more, “artificially inflating the economy.” So officials really wanted to see how things look since that program ended, and it has come down, but it is still higher than last year. They’re also considering if behavior will change once everything completely opens. “If they’ll go back to old behaviors of shopping and traveling outside the city — that’s the unknown when we truly get to a post-COVID economy, which will probably be in about a year,” she said. “Right now we’re not concerned.” Because of Mesa’s conservative fiscal budgeting, if a department wants to expand or add programs, it will look at the how such a change will affect the budget long term. “We don’t want to put a project in place that we can’t afford in two years,” she said. Cannistraro added the COVID-19 relief funds really helped Mesa. It also didn’t have the extra impact that some cities had to deal, such as protests, so it was able to offset its general fund for public safety and keep a higher reserve in the general fund for those “unknowns.” Mesa was also the recipient of transit money in the amount of $11.9 million for buses; received $11.2 million from the Department of Housing and Urban Development for residential mortgage assistance; and received $6.25 million trickled down from the state and county. Cannistraro said it’s helpful when the federal money comes to the city because it is closest to the residents and businesses. “We can put it in the hands of those struggling to keep their doors open and we’re hoping to keep open as many as we can,” she said. She shared a personal story about a cafe in the city offices building that she patronized daily when the majority of city employees were working from home and said the city council sponsored different restaurants each week to deliver meals to hospitals. “Hopefully, the bright side is people explored their own neighborhoods and want to continue to support mom-and-pop stores,” she said. 

DECEMBER 2020  |  THE MUNICIPAL  19


continued from page 19

NLC shares thoughts Gleeson agreed with Wallace’s forecast that this could be another Michael Wallace, legislative director for housing, community and decade-long recovery. He said if one looks at job losses in the governeconomic development, and Michael Gleeson, legislative manager ment sector from the Great Recession, it took 10 years to get them back. of finance, administration and intergovernmental relations for the “If more fiscal help doesn’t come from Congress to get them back on National League of Cities, shared some thoughts on how municipali- even footing — without it, it could be a decade,” Gleeson said. ties were faring during this time and offered some advice. Gleeson thought giving that “fiscal injection could be an antidote Wallace forecasted, based on the last great recession, “I’d expect to making sure we don’t have that long, dragged-out recovery.” the impact to be about a decade. Last time, particularly property tax As far as the distribution of those funds, only 36 cities got direct revenue had a significant decline, and in many places, the housing funds. Wallace said the bill gave “all discretion to the state whether market took a long time coming back.” to share at all and how to distribute to the cities” — whether through He said even those cities that fared better still took about a decade a grant or a reimbursement program, for example. to build the level of reserves for employees and spending as they had “In my opinion, the treasury did the best they could to maximize prior to the recession. He agreed cities and towns that relied heavily the funds — they wanted to make sure cities could make payments to on sales and income taxes felt the impact quicker. landlords on behalf of residents and meet utility needs,” Wallace said. All the money needs to be spent by the end of the calendar year, so He added where a lot of municipalities are also hurting is utility revenue. With a moratorium on shutoffs to protect public health, he feels they’ll see additional flexibility as the year comes to an end. “The majority of the funds (needed) to be spent on stability for resithey were still spending to maintain operations and cover employdents,” he said. ees’ wages and benefits. Wallace also said because there’s about a Another fiscal concern is the impact on municipal credit scores and year lag on property assessments he expects the rate they can borrow. Without federal assistance to close those to see a drop in assessed valuations in a year shortfalls, it’ll hurt cities and towns, driving up borrowing costs at a or two. time when residents need public services more than ever. “If you see an increase in foreclosures, Gleeson said one of the rating agencies is being pressured to potenthere’ll be a fall in assessed value. That’s what tially downgrade cities unable to meet debt service. “There’s a gap happened last time, so there’s no reason to between revenue and operating budget,” he said. think it won’t happen again,” Wallace said. He mentioned maintenance of the physical How to overcome impact structures of houses decline during difficult Wallace said some cities and towns have been able to minimize the economic times, having an effect on property impact because they had decent-sized reserve funds. He suggested Michael Wallace values. Even a city or town having to reduce local officials look at how things are going regionally and whether is the legislative trash pickup or street cleaning can have an they are doing well or not. director for housing, effect on values. But, he said, the key indicator for cities and towns is housing stacommunity and eco“Ultimately, there are lots of reasons for a bility. Job security, school security and people living paycheck to nomic development decline — in a difficult economy with unem- paycheck are all stressors related to housing instability. for the National “The key priority for cities to overcome this is to do everything they ployment rising, it’s reasonable to expect League of Cities. if people aren’t drawing a salary, they’re can to maintain housing stability for residents so when the economy (struggling) to keep up with payments or reopens, they won’t have missed out on too many opportunities,” he said. maintenance,” he said. “If we reopen the economy without housing assistance, we’ll see a Another factor is the added pressure on cities and towns to help make up losses huge wave of evictions,” he predicted, noting cities also have to protect suffered by other tax-supported units, like those mom-and-pop landlords who use rental units as a retirement schools, in order to maintain services to income source; it would be a huge loss to communities to lose them “because every city needs more affordable housing.” students. He added helping the small businesses who got left out of the federal payroll protection program is also important. Diversity “Every day we go without the certainty of federal assistance, it’ll be “Cities tend to do better when they have more harder for cities to continue to help out,” Wallace said.  diverse revenue sources,” Wallace said. Michael Gleeson, He acknowledged, however, in some cases legislative manstates regulate how cities can collect revenue ager of finance, by putting caps on the rate they can raise administration and taxes. intergovernmental “Even if they have a well-off revenue base, To read the Brookings Institute’s article, “When will your relations for the city feel the fiscal impact of COVID-19?,” visit https:// those local officials can’t just go to voters and National League of www.brookings.edu/blog/the-avenue/2020/03/31/ ask for an increase in equal measure to losses Cities. when-will-your-city-feel-the-fiscal-impact-of-Covid-19/. because the state has preempted their ability to do so,” Wallace said.

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M Focus on: 2020 Review/2021 Outlook

Mayors reflect on 2020, plan for 2021 By AMANDA DEMSTER | The Municipal

T

he year 2020 wasted no time hitting hard. By March, COVID-19 was leaving its mark. Businesses worldwide were ordered to close or allowed to remain open, divided into “essential” and “nonessential” labels. Meanwhile, people everywhere were told to stay at home as much as possible and remain at least 6 feet from anyone who was not an immediate household member. Cities had to adapt to the sudden changes, maintaining business as usual, even while offices were closed. As different states now try to decide how close to normal they can return to, a new sort of “normal” has settled in, with mayors and other city officials shouldering much of the responsibility of keeping their residents safe and their cities’ economies whole.

Manchester, N.H. When 2020 dawned in Manchester, things were looking bright economically, with construction beginning on two new hotels, as well as the first Primary activity in the nation. “The city was just in a very good place, very dynamic and alive,” Mayor Joyce Craig said. Then, COVID-19 hit. Everything halted, yet the city was busier than ever. By March 2, Manchester’s emergency operation center was open. Just a few weeks later, 22   THE MUNICIPAL  |  DECEMBER 2020

March 14, public schools closed, the first of the city’s shutdowns. Soon, a COVID-19 hotline was operating, and eventually, the city was able to establish twice-weekly COVID-19 testing. This paved the way for drive-up flu shots at the onset of cold and flu season. Manchester’s focus now is getting back to where it was a year ago, while keeping its residents safe. Schools opened back up in September, using a hybrid in-person/online model for preschool and kindergarten, with all other students learning remotely. “We’ve made significant modifications to our school buildings to make sure they are safe,” Craig said. “The school board took measures to implement procedures to maintain a minimum of 6 feet.” Manchester is one of two cities in New Hampshire to have its own health department, Craig said. Data has been key to keeping track not only on numbers of cases but also on where each originated — known as contact tracing. “We’re really fortunate to have a strong health department leading through this pandemic,” Craig said. The department has also kept the word out about hand washing, social distancing, mask wearing and other safety procedures. Through it all, Craig remains optimistic and looks forward to 2021 bringing some

New outdoor seating areas created from parking spots in Manchester, N.H., were separated from traffic with concrete barricades. These barricades were then turned into works of art. (Photo provided)

good to the community and its economy. The hotels that halted construction in March are now operational. Small businesses are working to recoup what they lost during the COVID-19 shutdowns. “Small businesses are the backbone of our community, so we’re doing everything we can to help them,” Craig said. The city has worked closely with local restaurants to help them expand their outdoor seating options, allocating parking spaces that those restaurants or the city have owned, ensuring enough space for these efforts. Financial packages have been established. A small business resiliency grant offers up to $5,000 for eligible small businesses to use for things like outdoor seating, Plexiglas dividers and anything else that will help with COVID19 safety. A low-interest loan program offers up to $25,000 for small businesses throughout the city that have seen a decrease in revenue due to COVID-19 shutdowns. “Again, we want to do everything we can to help them through this,” Craig said. Providing funding for local small businesses is one thing, Craig said, and another is encouraging the community to continue shopping and making purchases there. As an


Easing the financial burdens felt by residents and business owners has been important to the city of Greenville, S.C., and its mayor, Knox White. To do so, the city deferred late fee penalties on certain services, temporarily suspended public transit fares and refunded approximately $50,000 in parking passes, special event reservations, park reservations and zoo memberships. (Photo provided)

example, the day before Halloween, Manchester held a downtown event to encourage residents to mask up, visit and shop there. “It’s so important, and we’re going to continue to do things like that,” Craig said. A topic of importance going into 2021 is affordable housing. “The state of New Hampshire has ended the eviction moratorium and affordable housing is an issue across New Hampshire and the county,” Craig said. “So, we are working on increasing affordable housing opportunities in Manchester.” The city has established a task force to see to this. Greenville, S.C. Greenville is another of the thousands of cities continuing to adapt to the coronavirus-affected world. At the dawn of 2020, no one could have dreamed of online meetings and off-site workdays, with government offices closed and government employees conducting business as usual from home. “We are adjusting to a remote work environment and are modifying our business processes,” Greenville Mayor Knox White said. “Despite challenges, we have continued to operate and provide essential services.” In March, Greenville, like so many cities worldwide, began closing in preparation for the unknown. Events were cancelled and meetings moved to an online platform. Access to city buildings was limited, with only essential employees working in person. Community centers, parks and the zoo all closed. As temporary shutdowns and stay-at-home mandates became the norm nationwide, Greenville knew things would become increasingly difficult for its residents and businesses, both financially and psychologically.

The city launched a website where residents could learn up-todate information and access resources. Area health systems and health agencies began giving regular media briefings. To ease some of the financial burdens on residents and business owners, the city deferred late fee penalties on certain services, temporarily suspended public transit fares and refunded approximately $50,000 in parking passes, special event reservations, park reservations and zoo memberships that had been issued prior to the pandemic. The city also distributed 200,000 free masks to area businesses. More than 250 Small Business Boost grants were issued at $1,000 apiece. In April, the city of Greenville, Greenville County, the Greenville Chamber of Commerce and the Greenville Area Development Corporation teamed up to form the Business Recovery Task Force. “As restaurants, retailers, service businesses and manufacturers began to resume modified operations, the Business Recovery Task Force launched the Greater Greenville Pledge, a campaign designed to encourage local businesses to reopen responsibly and instill customer confidence,” White said. Available in both English and Spanish, the Greater Greenville Pledge webpage features links to a variety of reopening guidelines and a Business Recovery Task Force report. Business owners can also find success stories and a map of pledged businesses. For 2021, White looks forward to construction of the 60-acre Unity Park, which he calls, “One of Greenville’s most transformational public-private partnerships.” Unity Park is a regional project covering three Greenville neighborhoods: Southernside, West Greenville and Hampton-Pinckney. The city and its consultants worked closely with residents of these neighborhoods to develop a master plan for the park, which will include playgrounds, open green space, a pedestrian bridge over the Reedy River and a place for gatherings. Nearby business owners were taken into consideration, particularly those located in The Commons, a 40,000-square-foot development of former abandoned warehouse space. “The city and its contractor worked closely with the owners to mitigate the impact of construction on the businesses, including building a temporary parking lot for the development,” White said. The first phase of the park will cost around $40 million. Funding comes from a variety of sources, including $26 million in taxes generated through the tourism industry. In addition, $5 million stormwater funds will go into restoring the Reedy River, which flows through the park. The remainder of the first phase will be funded through private donations and grants. Affordable housing will be another buzzword for Greenville in 2021. The city has donated 9 acres of land in the Southernside neighborhood, valued at more than $8 million, to the Greenville Housing Fund for the construction of affordable workforce housing. “What makes Unity Park unique is the city’s commitment to inclusivity and equitable development,” White said. As 2020 comes to a close, cities like Manchester and Greenville continue to recover while looking forward to great things in 2021. 

DECEMBER 2020  |  THE MUNICIPAL  23


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M Focus on: 2020 Review/2021 Outlook Municipalities should aim for inclusion of all racial and ethnic groups in the conduct of city business and maintenance of peaceful community relations. (FrankHH/ Shutterstock.com)

Overcoming racial unrest: A primer By RAY BALOGH | The Municipal

On June 2, 2020, the citizenry of Ferguson, Mo., did something powerful. In a citywide gesture of solidarity — an exercise in community empowerment — a hopeful venture to put the city on the path of reconciliation, healing and inclusion — the electorate selected Ella M. Jones to be the St. Louis suburb’s first Black mayor. The vote came six years after Ferguson was thrust into national infamy for violent protests following the death of Black teenager Michael Brown, who was fatally shot by white police officer Darren Wilson. The ensuing yearlong unrest was frequently punctuated by rioting and vandalism that resulted in damages exceeding $26 million, or roughly twice Ferguson’s yearly operating budget. Jones, 65, a pastor of the local African Methodist Episcopal Church, served as a city council member when she decided to throw her hat in the ring to replace Mayor James Knowles III, who was elected in 2011

26   THE MUNICIPAL  |  DECEMBER 2020

and prevented by term limits from seeking reelection this year. Jones had lost to Knowles in 2017 and resolved to reprise her campaign, running on the concept of embracing diversity and resolving racial conflict in the city, despite the headwinds of discrimination and injustice of which she was painfully aware during her 40 years of residence in Ferguson. She heard the concerns of her fellow citizens who despaired of any meaningful change in the city. “If you’ve been oppressed for so long, it’s hard for you to break out to a new idea,” she said. “When you’ve been governed by fear and people telling you that the city is going to decline because an African American person is going to be in charge, then you tend to listen to the rhetoric and don’t open your mind to new possibilities.” But Jones is made of sterner stuff and refused to resign herself to the inequities of living in a racially polarized community. “If I

see something that needs to be addressed, I will address it.” She told the New York Times the day after her mayoral election, “My election gives people hope. Everybody is looking for a change; everybody wants to have a better way of life. You don’t want to go four blocks and worry about getting shot. Nobody wants that. It is starting to get better. We are making changes.” As the city’s chief executive, Jones is overseeing continued implementation of the federal consent decree Ferguson adopted in 2016. The decree, codified by city ordinance, includes the following remediations: • Hosting small group meetings between police officers and community members. • Revising the municipal code to clearly define applicable offenses and imposing appropriate penalties. • Increasing the quality and scope of police department personnel training. • Ensuring equal protection of the law and preservation of constitutional rights. • Protecting First Amendment rights.


Ella M. Jones was elected mayor by the citizens of Ferguson, Mo. She is the city’s first Black woman mayor and ran on a platform of restoring racial harmony after the unrest elicited by the shooting of Michael Brown. (Photo provided) • Promoting government transparency and encouraging community feedback. • Determining when force may be used by law enforcement and dictating when reporting, oversight and investigation are required. • Implementing a Crisis Intervention Team to assist individuals in mental health or substance abuse crisis and promote community solutions to situations involving mental illness. • Equipping police officers with body or in-car cameras. • Providing services to ensure officers’ physical and mental well-being. • Conducting outreach to recruit a highly qualified diverse workforce. • Reforming the municipal court. • Providing a more detailed complaint process. • Ensuring the collection and tracking of data to assess and improve law enforcement practices. • Selecting an Independent Monitor consisting of a team of individuals highly qualified in policing, civil rights and related areas.

At 21,000 residents, Ferguson is one of the The action guide provides six pages of smallest municipalities to enter into a federal checklists to assist municipalities in properly consent decree and serves as an example of responding to racial conflict under the heada community, recently beleaguered by vio- ings of crisis response, communications and lence and bloodshed, that is turning itself stakeholders. around and laboring toward a new dawn of The Community Relations Service of the racial harmony and understanding. U.S. Department of Justice starts one step The National League of Cities has pub- earlier and has made available its guide, lished “Responding to Racial Tension in “Avoiding Racial Conflict: A Guide for MuniciYour City: A Municipal Action Guide,” which palities,” found at www.justice.gov, to prepare provides detailed advice to cities and towns cities and towns before any manifestation of experiencing inchoate crisis along racial lines. racial unrest occurs. The guide, found at www.nlc.org, advises The guide begins with a discussion of municipalities to “embed common values in “two volatile community dynamics known to local response to racial tension,” listing five create extraordinary tension and a triggering such values: incident”: perceived disparity of treatment • Empathy. Municipal leaders must and lack of confidence in redress systems. acknowledge that “the community is “When one or both community dynamics looking for answers and wants to be indicate that a high level of tension exists, a heard” and should recognize the pain volatile atmosphere marked by frustration the victims and participants are expe- and anger may develop … When indicators riencing. City officials should express of tension are extremely high, any rancorous the shared urgency of the present crisis, encounter between groups and/or with the acknowledge the different life experi- police has the potential of becoming a trigences contributing to the racial tension gering incident that can spark disruption.” and provide timely information about Preemptive or prompt remedial action any investigations. by municipal authorities is the key to avert• Transparency. Leaders should under- ing racial disruption, and the guide offers a stand the historical context of systemic host of proactive efforts that can be taken to racism and work to rebuild fractured trust, avoid costly and tragic consequences down providing frequent transparent updates the road. to the city’s stakeholders while managing expectations by not overselling solutions. Use of penalties • Authenticity. The municipality should The guide recommends a carrot-and-stick demonstrate clear responsiveness to its approach to crafting local legislation. Conconstituents and develop relationships sequences for violation of — or compliance with respected community partners, both with — city equal opportunity and protection citywide and at the neighborhood level. ordinances may include: • Imposing fines or penalties. • Partnership and collaboration. Municipalities should explore ways to make • Reviewing licenses, privileges and taxspace for intentionally collaborative exempt status. efforts to actively listen to community • Providing incentives and awards. and stakeholder input, create authentic opportunities to include citizens in Civil rights ordinance the decision-making process and find Elements of a general ordinance outlining a commitment to positive race relations solutions. • Consistency. Municipal leaders can prac- include: tice consistency in showing up to public • Each municipal department developing forums; communicating frequently; issuits own policy and program. ing inclusive communitywide messages; • Monetary and disciplinary sanctions signaling acknowledgment of the severagainst violators. ity of any tensions; committing to logic, • Measures to assure positive race relations. accuracy and fairness; establishing clear • Performance incentive awards to department heads. roles for the administration’s response • Public municipal awards ceremonies.  team; and clearly articulating expectations and guidelines. DECEMBER 2020  |  THE MUNICIPAL  27


continued from page 27

• Promoting nondiscrimination in the workplace. • Promulgating and posting equal opportunity policies. • Requiring all subcontractors to comply with requirements. Voting rights ordinance The ordinance should: • State the city’s commitment to fairness. • Be prominently posted in all polling locations. • Require polling places to be located at convenient sites. • Require efforts to remove language barriers. • Require voting districts to be consistent with federal laws, particularly during redistricting.

Protestors gather in Washington, D.C., to demonstrate against racial strife in the United States. Municipalities can take many steps to forestall racial tension before violent outbursts occur. (Eli Wilson / Shutterstock.com)

Human relations commission The municipality can establish or reenergize its human relations commission as the central instrumentality to monitor equal rights, assure conformity with constitutional rights and promote the municipality’s positive goals. Hate activity ordinance Hate crimes are defined in federal law as “crimes that manifest evidence of prejudice based on race, religion, sexual orientation or ethnicity.” Municipalities may model their own ordinance after existing hate crime laws and should develop public service announcements and local information campaigns to notify the public of its passage and provisions. It is advisable to develop a local coalition of police, educators, clergy, business people and human relations specialists of various ages to counter hate activity. The municipality may also establish a local hotline for reporting such activity. Fair housing ordinance The ordinance should mirror the provisions of Title VIII of the 1968 Civil Rights Act so the municipality can receive a “substantial equivalent” determination from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The determination passes the right to adjudicate fair housing complaints from HUD to the municipality. The ordinance should prohibit discrimination in the marketing, sale, purchase, rental and financing of housing and the provision of brokerage services. Business ordinance Applicable policies and procedures should be prominently displayed in all relevant governmental offices, and all entities doing business with the municipality should be required to comply with regulations governing: 28   THE MUNICIPAL | DECEMBER 2020

Representation on boards and commissions All community members should be ensured access to full participation in municipal affairs, including representation on appointed boards and commissions. Any ordinance should require: • Listing all municipal boards and commissions to which appointments are made. • An outreach effort seeking to recruit appointments from all racial and ethnic groups. • Designating a specific municipal official or agency to ensure compliance. Police department policy The department’s policies should include a statement of the municipality’s commitment to civil rights and harmonious race relations, criminal and disciplinary sanctions for noncompliance and descriptions of procedures and programs to improve police/minority relations. Examples of policies and programs include: • Developing a set of values to inform implementation. • Updating regulations concerning critical situations leading to police/citizen violence. • Establishing a racial-bias unit and/or civil rights office. • Implementing procedures for public accountability. • Providing civil rights training. Police-community relations Community partnerships should feature: • Establishing and maintaining standing advisory police/community relations boards or committees. • Including all groups in the development of programs and policing activity initiatives. • Holding regular public accountability sessions with representatives of all racial and ethnic groups. • Promulgating procedures for relations with municipal departments, civil rights agencies and local civic or social organizations. Schools The municipality and local school system may not be coterminous, but the municipality should nevertheless pay attention to programs and procedures such as: • Parent/student councils. • In-service training for teachers. • Outreach programs to parents and the community at large.


• Police/school cooperation agreements. • Agreements or memoranda of understanding addressing hostility surrounding racial diversity; dropout rates, causes and prevention; and health issues. No department should be left out of the planning. Relevant departments include those administrating public works, assessing, planning, sanitation, licensing, hospitals, real property and recreation. Municipalities should be diligent to forestall or ameliorate racial tensions, but should not manufacture problems through exaggeration or panic.

The DOJ guide ends with a caveat: “Just as local governments must be sensitive to matters that have the potential for racial or ethnic conflict, they must also be wary of creating or encouraging racial or ethnic issues where none exit. Not every multiethnic community is ready to explode, not every dispute between individuals of different races is a racial dispute and not every police incident is a potential riot. “In implementing the suggestions of this guide, local governments should not send the inadvertent message that every issue is a racial issue; rather, they should convey a healthy, positive concern for the well-being of all residents.” 

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M Focus on: 2020 Review/2021 Outlook

Cities search for workforce housing solutions By AMANDA DEMSTER | The Municipal

Offering adequate, affordable workforce housing can be a challenge. As cities continue to grow and add jobs, many find their current housing situations are lacking, with many people commuting in from other locations to work. Many cities are tackling this problem head-on through the implementation of programs, as well as partnerships with local nonprofit organizations that specialize in fulfilling housing needs. Pensacola, Fla. Pensacola has set an ambitious goal — 500 homes in five years. “It came from our council president,” Pensacola Housing Director Marcie Whitaker said. “She was the champion of this.” To accomplish this, the city has established a task force consisting of local real estate brokers, architects, members of the lending community, advocates for those with disabilities and other area experts. As they formulated their plan, three buzzwords the task force began to focus on were “equity,” “accessibility” and “affordability.” The task force began meeting in February 2020. Shortly thereafter, the COVID-19 pandemic began and the task force had to postpone further action. 30   THE MUNICIPAL  |  DECEMBER 2020

In June through August, a combination of in-person and online meetings took place. The Florida Housing Coalition, a nonprofit firm out of Tallahassee, acted as a facilitator, attending the meetings and compiling a final report. “The second meeting brought forth a picture of the community, with demographic information, affordability information, where funding is going currently,” Whitaker said. At the third meeting, the coalition presented 18 possible strategies, which the task force narrowed down to six recommendations: engage in strategic partnership; collaborate with the private sector; leverage existing property; support tax credit development; identify and encourage suitable sites for development; and identify creative use properties. While these are the six the task force will focus on, the report will still include all 18 original strategies. “I’m optimistic that we’re going to conquer these first six and want to move on to some of the other strategies outlined,” Whitaker said.

ABOVE LEFT: Pensacola, Fla., established a task force to explore housing solutions, with an emphasis on equity, accessibility and affordability. Pictured is a historic district in downtown Pensacola. (JNix/ Shutterstock.com) ABOVE RIGHT: Nonprofit La Casa of Elkhart County received a grant through Indiana’s Modular Workforce Housing Pilot Program to bring additional workforce housing to Elkhart and nearby Goshen. Pictured is downtown Elkhart. (Peek Creative Collective/Shutterstock.com)

The final meeting took place in August, with the city council adopting the recommendations at its September meeting. The task force has specific goals under each strategy. For example, under “identify creative use properties,” ideas include empty big-box stores, old school sites and unused churches, which can be made into houses, condos, town houses or apartments. As far as collaborating with the private sector, the idea is to find out what kinds of incentives will truly help the builders and others within that group. “As we know, buildings costs continue to go up, and for-profit builders, they need to make a profit, so municipalities are going to have to


bring some sort of incentive package to the table,” Whitaker said. The city has created a new position to work with the task force on implementing the identified recommendations. This position was worked into the city’s budget. “The council and the mayor have been supportive of this,” Whitaker said. “For him to create a new item in our budget, I was very, very pleased. “I think one of the key things I’ve learned is that housing is part of a community’s infrastructure,” she continued. “If you aren’t meeting the needs of your whole population long term, it’s going to be a problem because you want to be able to live, work and play, all within your community.” Marion and Elkhart, Ind. While creating affordable workforce housing is important in any city, sometimes that responsibility ends up on the shoulders of the nonprofit sector. The cities of Marion and Elkhart both have strong nonprofit entities that are working to alleviate some of the housing burden. Recently, the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority awarded two $500,000 grants for cities to put toward the Modular Workforce Housing Pilot Program. In Marion, located roughly halfway between Indianapolis and Fort Wayne, the grant will help fund a number of custom modular homes for both individual occupants and families. According to Mikayla Marazzi, development director for Marion’s Affordable Housing and Community Development Corporation, a request for quotes went out to a select number of municipalities across Indiana. “The whole purpose of the program is to transform blight elimination lots and to provide housing options for people in the low to moderate income levels,” Marazzi said. From 2014 to 2018, the organization had worked with the city of Marion on its blight elimination program. “So, when we got the RFQ, our executive director approached the city and assembled a team that had been part of the blight elimination program,” Marazzi said. The city identified 75 lots, most of which are central to the downtown area, where blighted buildings had been. Working with a modular home company, the organization seeks to build homes suited to each individual or family.

“Applicants will apply for the program and will work with the bank to see what kind of mortgage they can obtain,” Marazzi said. “And they will get some options from the dealer.” A base home costs around $130,000, Marazzi said, but that can fluctuate depending on the buyer’s needs. “The neat thing about this program is the flexibility of the homeowner to design and choose the home of their dreams,” Marazzi said. The current goal is to have between four and six homes built within the year, Marazzi said. To Marazzi, programs like this one are a way to fulfill a need that exists in so many communities nationwide. “The housing market is so tight and a lot of the houses that exist are either in the $200,000 range or they need a lot of work,” she said. “These provide a middle ground for people who want a nice home, not a fixer-upper, and want to live centrally in the city.” Merazzi cautions not to confuse modular homes and manufactured housing. “The technology has gotten so good, they really go head-to-head with traditional, stickbuilt homes, but they are more cost-efficient, they are built faster, there are a lot of benefits to them,” she said. In the northern part of the state, La Casa of Elkhart County is working with the city of Elkhart on the construction of three modular homes, all within a block of each other on the city’s south side. These will be sold as they are built and will be roughly 1,232 square feet with three bedrooms and two bathrooms apiece. Work on the houses began in May, with the first order placed in July. However, the wait time increased from just a few weeks to several months due to a pandemic-limited workforce. Thus, the first home will not be complete until some time in 2021. “COVID really threw off the schedules at the factories due to the shutdowns,” La Casa Vice President of Real Estate Development Brad Hunsberger said. While he did not have the exact numbers, Hunsberger noted that Elkhart has a large workforce that commutes in every day from surrounding cities. “What we have right now is a market that is overly constricted, to where people have a desire to move but cannot find a place to live,” he said. That is where partnerships like the city of Elkhart and La Casa come in.

This map shows Pensacola’s median income by tract. (Graph provided)

Pictured are lots that are proposed modular housing lots in Elkhart, Ind.’s, Roosevelt neighborhood. (Photo provided)

“For a healthy operating market, there needs to be options on all levels of the housing market, from subsidized to high-end housing,” Hunsberger said. “A properly functioning market will allow for upward mobility within their housing, by being able to sell their house and upgrade their house over time.” La Casa has two other projects underway, Hunsberger added. One is to provide houses for families in Elkhart and nearby Goshen who are below the 80% median income. Another is an affordable rental project to rehabilitate three side-by-side duplexes in Elkhart, with the goal of having the units ready to rent by fall 2021.  DECEMBER 2020  |  THE MUNICIPAL  31


32   THE MUNICIPAL | DECEMBER 2020


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M Focus on: 2020 Review/2021 Outlook

Digital signatures yield safety and efficiencies

Shutterstock photo

By THOMAS O’BRIEN | The Municipal

B

eware the Ides of March. Shakespeare’s warning in his play “Julius Caesar” proved true in March 2020 for an entire nation when the acceleration of coronavirus infections forced the United States to shut down its economy in the face of a pandemic. Governments of all sizes were forced to shift many of their employees to work-from-home arrangements in order to contain the spread of COVID-19. Virtually all functions of government were impacted by shelter-in-place orders, but the onus fell heavily on local agencies’ purchasing departments charged with procuring goods and services, upholding policies of openness and transparency to do their part in keeping the motor of government running. Purchasing professionals across the country adapted processes in order to facilitate continued delivery of services while keeping themselves, elected officials, citizens and vendors safe. Discussion forums on the NIGP’s — the Institute for Public Procurement — site fostered the sharing of ideas on how to keep local government procurement functioning in a safe manner. Some of the virtual measures included conducting pre-bid meetings and bid openings via WebEx, Zoom, GoToMeeting or Microsoft Teams, and receiving bids by email submission or at online bidding services such Bonfire, Negometrix and Public Purchase. Some agencies, such as the city of Portage, Mich.,

34   THE MUNICIPAL  |  DECEMBER 2020

transitioned from executing paper contracts to executing agreements in cyberspace via digital signature platforms, such as DocuSign, One Span Sign and Adobe Sign, rather than in “wet ink” to reduce personto-person contact. Executing contracts via “digital signature” proved to be the least costly process change to implement in the wake of straightened budgets wrought by the pandemic’s actual and anticipated impact on city revenues. The city of Portage — located in southwest Michigan — as a member of Michigan’s state cooperative purchasing program, MiDEAL, had the option of choosing between two digital signature providers, DocuSign and OneSpan Sign, after the purchasing department and the technology services department evaluated both solutions. Any process change, whether or not it includes deployment of software, involves risk of failure, learning something new and dealing with the awkwardness of change. Implementation of digital execution of agreements — i.e., contracts, contract renewals, change orders, payment applications, hold harmless agreements, ad hoc agreements — was no exception. The key to successful adoption of digital execution was to get started as soon as possible. That meant not only learning quickly how to use the program, but also establishing good organization before commencing and, most importantly, just getting


Before implementing the digital execution of agreements, the city of Portage, Mich., used an extensive amount of paper for contracts. Now, one digital contract is executed with all signers receiving access to the digitally signed final version. Pictured is one of the city’s past contract file folder. (Photo provided)

The switch to the digital execution of agreements was made by Portage, Mich., with safety for all parties in mind. Pictured is a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention poster used by the city to reduce the spread of COVID-19. (Photo provided)

Pictured is the DocuSign interface after a contract is digitally signed. It also relays that its use saved 1 billion pounds of wood, 3 billion gallons of water, 2.4 billion pounds of carbon dioxide and 167 million pounds of waste. (Photo provided)

started using the service, even if that meant taking small steps and making mistakes. In other words, “just do it.” Naturally, the city of Portage implemented its chosen digital solution by putting the purchasing department in charge, with responsibility for creating documents for digital execution; disseminating them to outside and inside partners; creating a sensible way to organize the process and the documents; and teaching, encouraging and cajoling others essential to its success to use it. The city’s technology services department worked with the chosen vendor to take advantage of the chosen platform’s capability of using the city’s identifiable email address extension during the contract execution process.

After four months of use, the city of Portage has digitally executed 80 agreements and begun to grant other city departments their own accounts in order to initiate digital execution of various agreements with continued oversight by the purchasing manager. Paper usage has been reduced significantly. Under the old process, four hard copies of contracts were signed in wet ink by the vendor, the city attorney and the city manager. Now, one digital contract is executed with all signers receiving access to the digitally signed final version. Postage cost has been eliminated. Signers of the agreements — internal and external — have been liberated from a paper-based, antiquated process. So, in addition to the immediate goal of protecting the health of all parties to the contract execution process, efficiency has been enhanced by “click to sign” signatures. Now, as a second wave of the pandemic takes hold, other city departments, such as human resources, are interested in using this technology to enable them to fulfill department activities and functions in a contactless manner. By starting small, establishing sound organization of the process and learning by doing, the city of Portage has set the stage to roll out digital execution to other departments. Dissemination of digital signatures to other departments will not only enhance safety as infections surge, but ultimately, foster greater efficiencies across the organization.  DECEMBER 2020  |  THE MUNICIPAL  35


M The Municipal

Advertiser Directory COOPERATIVE

Sourcewell (877) 585-9706 www.sourcewell-mn.gov

FACILITY MANAGEMENT

Sensible Products Inc. (330) 400-3401 www.senpro.net/online

Imel Motors (260) 437-4577 www.imelmotorsales.com

Zoll (800) 804-4356 www.zoll.com/municipal

JAMAR Technologies, Inc. (800) 776-0940 www.jamartech.com

FLEET

Chapin Manufacturing (800) 950-4458 www.chapinmfg.com

Agile Fleet (408) 213-9555 www.agilefleet.com

Delmhorst Instrument Company (877) 335-6467 www.delmhorst.com

Air-tow Trailers (800) 479-7975 www.airtow.com

Duo Protects (269) 663-8525 www.duoprotects.com

Alumitank (815) 943-6649 www.alumitank.com

Greystone Construction (888) 742-6837 www.greystoneconstruction.com

Andy Mohr Ford (317) 279-7140 www.andymohrford.com

Hohmann & Barnard Repair & Restoration Systems (800) 645-0616 www.h-b.com

BendPak Inc. (800) 253-2363 www.bendpak.com/lta

International Code Council (708) 799-2300 www.iccsafe.org

Bonnell Industries (800) 851-9664 www.bonnell.com

Nightlock Door Security (855) 644-4856 www.nightlock.com

Bucher Municipal (704) 658-1333 www.buchermunicipal.com

Omega Industrial Products (800) 521-8272 www.omegaindl.com

Buyers Products Company (440) 974-7766 www.buyersproducts.com

Sign Guardian (410) 251-3487 www.signguardian.com

Cleanfix (855) 738-3267 www.cleanfix.org

Streamlight (800) 523-7488 www.streamlight.com Strongwell (276) 645-8000 www.strongwell.com Stumper Industries (906) 487-7002 www.gostumper.com ULINE (800) 295-5510 www.uline.com

FIRE/POLICE/RESCUE

FSI North America (440) 949-2400 www.fsinorth.com Kimtek Research (888) 546-8358 www.kimtekresearch.com

Midwest Sandbags (847) 366-6555 www.midwestsandbags.com

36   THE MUNICIPAL  |  DECEMBER 2020

Ctech Manufacturing (715) 355-8842 www.ctechmanufacturing.com Curtis Industries (508) 853-2200 www.curtisindustries.net ECM Performance (888) 768-2447 www.ecmperformance.com Edinburg Auction Sales, Inc. (330) 325-2966 www.edinburgauction.com Everblades (800) 746-0428 www.everblades.com FCAR Tech USA LLC (443) 380-0088 www.fcarusa.com Fleet Discount Parts (888) 533-8277 www.fleetdiscountparts.com Fluid Control Services, Inc. (800) 683-5189 www.fluidcontrolservices.com

Land Pride (785) 823-3276 www.landpride.com Lube-A-Boom (317) 578-3961 www.lubeaboom.com Midwest Tractor (231) 269-4100 www.midwesttractor.com Monroe Truck Equipment (608) 328-8127 www.monroetruck.com Palfinger (800) 851-8938 www.palfinger.com Pep Boys (800) 553-5338 www.pepboys.com RealWheels (800) 982-1180 www.realwheels.com Robinson Metal (920) 615-3438 www.gastrailer.com Spectra Products (888) 381-2355 www.spectraproducts.ca Taylor Wing (888) 844-5706 www.taylorwing.com Transoft Solutions (888) 244-8387 www.transoftsolutions.com US Tarp (800) 249-0297 www.ustarp.com VMAC Air (877) 912-6605 www.vmacair.com Waytek (800) 328-2724 www.waytekwire.com Wisconsin Surplus Auctions (608) 437-2001 www.wisconsinsurplus.com XL Fleet (617) 718-0329 www.xlfleet.com

PUBLIC WORKS

American Safety & Supply (800) 472-3892 www.americansafetysupply.com American Shoring Inc. (800) 407-4674 www.americanshoring.com Armstrong Equipment Inc. (800) 699-7557 www.vacpump.com


themunicipal.com Best Management Products (800) 504-8008 www.bmpinc.com Britespan Building Systems (800) 407-5846 www.britespanbuildings.com Calhoun Super Structure (844) 873-3338 www.calhounsuperstructure.com CBI Systems Ltd. (409) 835-3095 www.stormwaterinspect.com Central Life Sciences (800) 248-7763 www.centralmosquitocontrol.com Clearspan (860) 528-1119 www.clearspan.com Fences 4 Less (800) 933-6237 www.fence-store.com LaMotte Company (410) 778-3100 www.lamotte.com Legacy Building Solutions (877) 259-1528 www.legacybuildingsolutions.com Mile-X Equipment (800) 837-3818 www.mile-x.com Muncie Power Products (800) 367-7867 www.munciepower.com

STREET & HIGHWAY

AirNetix LLC (678) 677-4961 www.streetsoundswireless.com

All Access Equipment (978) 712-4950 www.allaccessequipment.com Blackburn Flag (866) 862-6759 www.blackburnflag.com CCI Piping Systems (800) 867-2772 www.ccipipe.com Curbtender Sweepers, LLC (319) 266-1721 www.curbtendersweepers.com Custom Products Corporation (800) 367-1492 www.cpcsigns.com das Manufacturing (800) 549-6024 www.dasmanufacturing.com Ebac Industrial Products (855) 873-6800 www.ebacusa.com Frost Incorporated (800) 621-7910 www.frostserv.com Global Environmental Products (909) 713-1600 www.globalsweeper.com

Olsson (402) 474-6311 www.olsson.com

Henderson Products (440) 226-4690 www.hendersonproducts.com ICC Distribution Group (641) 757-2555 www.iccdistributiongroup.com

Orenco Systems (800) 348-9843 www.orenco.com

KM International (810) 688-1234 www.kminternational.com

RapidView (800) 656-4225 www.rapidview.com

LaneLight (866) 466-4836 www.lanelight.com

Sellick Equipment (877) 735-5425 www.sellickequipment.com

Manhole Guard (800) 782-4134 www.manholeguard.com

Specialty Maintenance Products, Inc. (713) 667-4402 www.smptools.com

Mean Green Mowers (513) 738-4736 www.meangreenmowers.com

Super Products (800) 837-9711 www.superproductsllc.com

Mel Northey Company Inc. (800) 828-0302 www.melnorthey.com

Tech Products, Inc. (800) 221-1311 www.techproducts.com

MRL Equipment Company, Inc. (877) 788-2907 www.markritelines.com

TruGrit Traction Inc. (407) 900-1091 www.TruGritTraction.com

New Leader/ Hi-Way (319) 363-8281 www.newleader.com

Woodland Power Products (844) 217-8302 www.wholesalehoses.com

1-800-SWEEPER (800) 793-3737 www.1800sweeper.com

National Construction Rentals (818) 221-6035 www.rentnational.com

Snow Lion, Inc. (775) 502-3500 www.snowlion.us

Suitter Manufacturing (208) 739-0129 www.suittermfg.com Sweeping Corp of America (888) 793-3746 www.sweepingcorp.com Traffic Safety Service (908) 561-4800 www.trafficsafetyservice.com TrafFix Devices Inc. (949) 361-5663 www.traffixdevices.com Trinity Highway Products (888) 496-3625 www.trinityhighway.com Unique Paving Materials (800) 441-4880 www.uniquepavingmaterials.com

TECHNOLOGY

Humana (844) 325-2813 www.humana.com Icom America (800) 872-4266 www.icomamerica.com Safety Vision (800) 851-4764 www.safetyvision.com SAP (888) 883-8411 www.concur.com/government Track Star International, Inc. (800) 661-3515 www.trackstar.com T2 Systems Inc. (800) 434-1502 www.t2systems.com

WASTE & RECYCLING

AirBurners (561) 768-5963 www.airburners.com

AMCS Group (800) 962-9264 www.amcsgroup.com Composite Access Products (844) 344-2271 www.justcapthat.com Envirocover System (866) 738-6281 www.envirocoversystem.com Rubicon Global (844) 479-1507 www.rubicon.com/smart-city/ Sea Electric (818) 535-5206 www.sea-electric.com Strategic Materials (281) 647-2700 www.strategicmaterials.com WAM Software Inc. (800) 926-4748 www.wamsoftware.com

DECEMBER 2020  |  THE MUNICIPAL  37


M

Personality Profile

Dedicated to service:

Pineville, La., Mayor Clarence Fields By JULIE YOUNG | The Municipal

When Clarence Fields was elected to the Pineville, La., City Council in 1998, he had no interest in becoming a full-time public servant. He had a good job with the Central Louisiana Electric Company, or CLEC, and enjoyed a well-earned lifestyle with his wife Rosa and his two children: Clarence Jr. and Bethany. He merely wanted to help the families in his local district. “When you represent thousands of people, you realize that you play an important role in the community,” he said. However, his political career was launched only a few years later when then mayor Leo Deslatte resigned two years into a four-year term. Fields, the youngest and only African American member on the council, was tapped to step in for a few months until a replacement could be elected in October 2000. By that time, he had grown into the role and wondered if he should try to stay in office. “Most people (in my position) wouldn’t have done it,” he said, noting the community’s demographics were roughly 75% white. “The odds were against me. Still, I talked to my wife and a friend of ours who was a judge, and I prayed for the Lord to show me what to do.” Fields’ leap of faith was not without its sacrifices and obstacles. He not only had to step away from his job, resulting in a $30,000 decrease in pay and no guarantee he could reclaim his position if the campaign wasn’t successful. He also had to sell a vehicle, his boat and make a number of other lifestyle changes, but luckily his family was willing to accept the challenge. In the end, Fields fought off three opponents and secured nearly 66% of the votes to become the mayor of Pineville. He was reelected in 2002 with 78% of the votes and has been elected without opposition ever since. “That was the beginning of something really special,” he said. “We put together a great staff and changed the complexion of the city. Of course, it’s also easy to be the mayor of Pineville when the citizens take such pride in the place where they live.” Man of the people Early in his tenure, Fields became involved in the Louisiana Municipal Association, which works to educate, advocate and empower local governments to effectively serve the citizens of Louisiana. Fields became the first Pineville mayor to serve as the president of the LMA

38   THE MUNICIPAL | DECEMBER 2020

Clarence Fields was first elected as Pineville, La.’s, mayor in 2000. (Photo provided)

In Clarence Fields’ time as mayor, Pineville, La., has received Louisiana Garden Club Federation’s Cleanest City award 11 times in 16 years. (Photo provided)


Pictured is Mayor Clarence Fields with Pineville City Council members. From left are Nathan Martin, Tom Bouchie, Christy Frederic, Mayor Fields, Kevin Dorn and Mary Galloway. (Photo provided) and continues to serve on the executive board and as chairman of the LMA’s Legislative Affairs Committee. “I couldn’t be as active with the LMA if I didn’t have a staff back home that can handle things in my absence,” he said. “Delegation is extremely important.” In the 22 years he has been Pineville’s mayor, Fields has helped spearhead a number of multimillion dollar projects that have renewed business and recreational opportunities, improved the city’s infrastructure and led to new residential and commercial developments. In addition, Pineville has been awarded numerous “cleanest city” awards from the Louisiana Garden Club Federation. Fields said Pineville is a community of dedicated people who are committed to economic development, partnerships and a future of unlimited possibilities, and he is eager to talk to folks about it. In fact, if there is a secret to Fields’ success, it is his ability to communicate with others, reach across the aisle and work with a wide range of people. “When I talk to people over the phone, they don’t know if I am a Democrat or a Republican. They don’t know that I am African American and they don’t know that I only have a high school education,” he said. “I think it is important to mayors to be accessible to everyone, and I pride myself on being very hands-on in my work.” On any given day, Fields may work 10 to 12 hours, but he’s not always behind a desk. Rather, he is out in the community talking to his constituents and listening to their concerns. “My wife won’t go to the store with me anymore because I spend two or three hours in there talking to people,” he said. Hall of Fame Fields is not a typical politician. He rarely appears at church events in an official capacity — preferring to reserve that time for worship instead. His family and faith are the most important things in the world to him, and if he keeps those two in perspective, it takes care of everything else. “I have been very blessed,” he said. In February, Fields was one of six local legends who were inducted into the Winnfield-based Louisiana Political Hall of Fame by the directors of the Louisiana Political Museum. According to the

Mayor Clarence Fields was inducted into the Louisiana Political Hall of Fame on Feb. 15, 2020. Fields was chosen due to his longevity in office and his work with the Louisiana Municipal Association. (Photo provided)

announcement, Fields was chosen due to his longevity in office and his work with the LMA. “I had no idea that I was being considered for the Political Hall of Fame until someone mentioned my name,” he said. “I was not knowledgeable about it at all and it was not something I was vying for, but it is an honor to be selected.” Fields said when his political career is over, he hopes it will be remembered as one in which he was able to accomplish a lot for the people of Pineville and his willingness to work with others. “I get calls from around the state, and I gladly sit down with those leaders and help them any way I can,” he said. “That’s what it means to be a public servant … serving others.”  DECEMBER 2020 | THE MUNICIPAL  39


M

Building & Construction

Mesa working on multiple project developments to transform downtown

By NICHOLETTE CARLSON | The Municipal

When looking to transform a city or town, the goal is to attract people and businesses. One of the best ways to go about that is to start with the downtown. As the 35th largest city in the nation, Mesa, Ariz., had previously not put as much focus into its downtown. However, Jeffrey McVay, Mesa’s manager of downtown transformation, explained, “Downtowns are what define a city.” In 2009 and 2010, the city began discussing a central main plan for the downtown area involving bringing in more residences and economic development. Plans were also discussed in preparation for the opening of the light rail expansion that would lead downtown in 2015. Since the city already has a beautiful historical and arts area downtown, the goal is to bring more residences and businesses to make the economy more successful.

40   THE MUNICIPAL | DECEMBER 2020

Mesa is home to the first Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints temple outside of Salt Lake City, Utah. The temple has been known as a destination location for visitors, particularly around Easter and Christmas. As LDS is working on redeveloping the temple and its property, the church has also chosen to work with the city in The Grove on Main project. It will include almost 300 residential units along with some retail space and the LDS visitor center and family history center.

The city of Mesa is teaming up with Arizona State University to build an ASU school building attached to a City Center plaza. Construction on the school building is currently underway. Construction on the plaza is planned to begin sometime next year. (Photo provided by the city of Mesa, Ariz.)

The Grove project is currently under construction. Construction began at the end of 2019. It is estimated, as of press time, that people should be able to begin moving in by this December. While the city is not financing this development, McVay admitted, “It’s a significant redevelopment for downtown and it sets a bar for quality of architecture, quality of structure.” On another downtown project for a City Center, Mesa teamed up with Arizona State University. In 2012, the park board


approved the creation of a City Center plaza park. McVay mentioned partnerships with school institutions are good for economic redevelopment, and so the city wanted ASU to establish a presence downtown by building a campus. In 2018, the construction of a single ASU building was approved. Plans and construction are underway. It will be home to ASU’s film school, which will help draw national recognition to take the film school to the next level. There are also plans for it to house a digital futures lab, which will focus on creating new technology for future programming. “We have a strong goal for creating an innovative downtown,” McVay described. The Transform 17 project was once an old, rundown neighborhood that was purchased and cleared by the city in the 1980s. Since then the city has been making various efforts to decide on a redevelopment plan. For six months, the city brought its guiding principles to both the public and the development community to gather ideas for the property. Forums have also been held with master developers to see if ideas for a conceptual master plan were realistic.

The completed conceptual master plan was presented to the city council and the city is now in the process of selecting a partner or partners for development of the property. McVay noted all parties are currently in the last stages of getting a memorandum of understanding finalized. There are currently 13 downtown development projects underway to boost economic redevelopment. Since the city is the largest landowner in the downtown area, it has worked to engage community members and businesses to see what other businesses and amenities they would like to see brought to the downtown area. The Encore-Residences on First project is a two-phase apartment construction project. Phase one is currently completed with the second lot currently under construction. Artspace Mesa consists of live-andwork apartments for artists, which are fully leased, and was completed in 2018. There are thoughts of building another Artspace for artists in the future. The Grid is a combination of apartments and retail space that is currently under construction.

This map shows the locations of redevelopment projects in downtown Mesa, Ariz. There are currently 13 projects underway to add residential space and businesses to the downtown area with others in discussion. (Photo provided by the city of Mesa, Ariz.) The Residences on Main will be a combination of apartments and retail space. Plans for permitting are currently underway and construction is likely to begin early next year. Found(RE) Mesa currently has a memorandum of understanding with the city. Proposed plans for the property include a boutique hotel, luxury apartments, retail space and a restaurant. ECO Mesa is a property for proposed apartments. A developer for the property was just approved by the city council on Aug. 31, and it is believed construction will start sometime in the spring 2021. The Facade Improvement program includes a covered walkway, since shade is an important asset in Arizona. The first phase is completed, but McVay mentioned finding funding for this project continues to be a struggle. He plans to continue it long term  DECEMBER 2020 | THE MUNICIPAL  41


continued from page 41

as a way to provide design and construction services to downtown businesses. Cardinal Capital Development is a plan for approximately 144 units in three stories. This project is undergoing zoning approvals and working on permitting. CO+HOOTS at Benedictine University is a plan for a co-working space to help support academic entrepreneurship in partnership with the university. Brown and Brown Development will be a multiphase development project with two sites for future buildings. Development is currently in the planning and zoning phase, awaiting final zoning approval. Mesa is described by McVay as “the biggest suburb nobody knows about,” and he is intent to change that. After five years in his position, he is finally able to see how all the city’s plans and deals are manifesting. While growing the city, McVay also wants to ensure the local economy grows and is supported. He not only wants to grow residences and businesses, he is also focusing on the “connective tissue” that will connect the downtown. He believes in keeping a balance in order to attract all ages and generations to the city and create a downtown arts and innovation district. McVay stresses this transformation and revitalization of downtown is no short-term plan. The city will continue to invest in attracting businesses and people with higher levels of amenities available downtown. If a person returns in five years, McVay noted, they’ll notice

Mesa has a strong historical and arts presence in the downtown area. Artspace Mesa consists of live-and-work apartments for artists that were completed in 2018. These lofts in the arts district will provide more residential and work space for artists. (Photo provided by the city of Mesa, Ariz.)

some changes. In 10 years, the city will have some big changes. If a visitor waits 15 years, they would likely hardly recognize the city. “We aren’t looking to just change a little bit,” he stressed. “We are looking to transform downtown.” 

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Public Safety

CAHOOTS serves as crisis intervention resource in its communities By LAUREN CAGGIANO | The Municipal

Law enforcement and mental health don’t have to be mutually exclusive or even at odds. In fact an innovative model out of the Eugene-Springfield metro area of Oregon is answering the call — literally.

CAHOOTS medic Christian Hawks responds to a call on shift. (Photo provided)

44   THE MUNICIPAL | DECEMBER 2020

A program of White Bird Clinic, Crisis Assistance Helping Out On The Streets, or CAHOOTS, provides mobile crisis intervention. Each team responding to calls consists of a medic and a crisis worker, and several of these professionals are cross trained in both areas. According to White Bird Clinic’s Director of Consulting Timothy Black, CAHOOTS has been officially around for more than three decades. But the lineage starts about 20 years earlier, in the late 1960s. At that time Eugene was seeing a lot of the same socioeconomic and mental health issues as the Bay Area. Being situated between San Francisco and Canada, there was a regular flow of people who brought with them their own struggles and addictions. At the same time, they had groups like the Merry Pranksters making their presence known. “So, we were experiencing a kind of culture shock, and with it, this recognition that the existing systems in our community just weren’t adequate to respond to the level of need, i.e., mental health needs, treatment for addiction and housing, etc.,” said Black. “And with some of the early deinstitutionalization practices that the Kennedy administration enacted, that was kind of the perfect storm.” These conditions are what promoted CAHOOTS founders to band together and create an “alternative model” to address these realities, Black said. The “Bummer Squad,” as it became known, was a grassroots response to crises of various natures. Over time its members were associated as a trusted resource for crisis intervention, even if they were acting in a de facto manner. A few decades later brought a turning point for CAHOOTS and the community at large. “A community policing grant became available in the late 1980s for the city of Eugene, and that was where we got the pilot funding for this formal response,” said Black. “The larger chunk (of funding) went to develop a more traditional mental health unit, kind of under the guise of community policing. But then they kept the chunk and said, ‘Okay, White Bird Clinic … we really value what you do in the community. We see how folks look to you, and we know that we use you all the time for your crisis center. So, let’s work together on this.’” If you ask Black, the Bummer Squad’s service delivery model really paved the way for its success. As the name CAHOOTS implies, these institutions don’t have to be in opposition but can work in tandem to problem solve. A lot has changed since the days of the late 1980s,


in terms of both funding and needs, and the organization has adapted over the years to respond to the changing times. “When we first started out, it was a fivedays-a-week, eight-hours-a-day response, Tuesdays through Saturdays 4 p.m. to midnight. And we really had kind of a small service footprint for a long time. It wasn’t until the early 2000s that we started to really expand on any sort of meaningful scale. And it was really in 2010, that we had our first really big expansion of services. And it’s only been the last four years that we’ve been doing this and on a 24/7 basis. So, it’s taken us a while to get to where we are.” Any meaningful sustainable change takes time to implement. But it can pay off in the end. In the case of Eugene-Springfield, scaling up funding for CAHOOTS has meant local police can focus their time on calls that pertain to actual policing, not mental health crises per se. The CAHOOTS program budget is about $2.1 million annually, according to its website, while the combined annual budgets for the Eugene and Springfield police departments are $90 million. In 2017, the CAHOOTS teams answered 17% of the Eugene Police Department’s overall call volume. The program saves the city of Eugene an estimated $8.5 million in public safety spending annually. But what can’t be quantified per se is the weight lifted from law enforcement. “We’re talking about something that really is oriented around making their job easier,” said Black. “This (allows) each public safety system to be able to focus on doing fewer things better. And if we can support them by responding to those mental health calls and requests for social service, this means the officers are free to do things that community policing says they should be doing, like getting out of their squad cars and building relationships with the community.” In other words, when police can shift from being reactive to proactive, everyone wins. But according to Black — who now consults with communities around the country about bringing the CAHOOTS model to their area — this shift comes with a lot of heavy lifting. For one, he said, there has to be what he refers to as alignment around the concept. Are elected officials and other community leaders on board? In his experiences, the cities and towns who are the most effective at implementing such a program have a grassroots

CAHOOTS medic Christian Hawks stands next to one of the CAHOOTS fleet’s vans. (Photo provided)

Pictured are CAHOOTS team medic Sara Stroo, EMT and QMHP, and crisis worker Laurel Lisovskis, CSWA. (Photo provided)

organization rallying behind the cause. Second, the community needs to have an existing robust network of social services already in place in order for the CAHOOTS model to work upon execution. “The most successful foundation is going to be one where a community has lowbarrier services designed to address basic needs and additional addiction issues,” he said. For example, you can’t just open a detox facility and expect to get results. You need to have an outpatient treatment facility as

part of the solution. The same goes for adequate mental health resources so people don’t keep ending up in and out of the hospital in a vicious cycle. His advice? “Get everybody at the table and in agreement that they want to move forward on something together. And really having that foundation of those resources for the community are the two things that really would make implementation as successful as it could be.” 

DECEMBER 2020 | THE MUNICIPAL  45


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Maintenance & Opeerations

The Glover Cary Bridge, a continuous truss bridge, spans the Ohio River between Owensboro, Ky., and Spencer County, Ind. (Shutterstock.com)

Owensboro, Ky., avoids rise in unemployment during pandemic By ANDREW MENTOCK | The Municipal

In addition to impacting the health of millions of Americans, the COVID-19 pandemic has ravaged the economy, causing millions to lose their jobs. At its peak, the United States’ unemployment rate increased by 10.3 percentage points in April, hitting a peak of 14.7%. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, this was “the highest rate and the largest over-the-month increase in the history of the data.” The data goes back to January 1948. This data reflected 15.9 million people losing their jobs, leaving a total of 23.1 million unemployed in April and the U.S. economy in a major recession. As of September, the U.S. unemployment rate declined to a manageable yet still significant 7.9%, but throughout the ebb and flow of the economy this year, one city was able to avoid any serious job loss. In fact, the year-over-year unemployment rate in Owensboro, Ky., actually dropped to 4.2% in June 2020.

46   THE MUNICIPAL | DECEMBER 2020

According to CNN, the national unemployment rate at the time was still at about 11%. “We actually dropped. We went from 4.4% to 4.2% from 2019 to 2020, which was probably the only city in a metropolitan area in the entire country that did that,” said Tom Watson, the mayor of Owensboro, who, at the time of press, was up for reelection. It also helps that Owensboro is centrally located between major economic hubs in the Midwest, such as Indianapolis, Cincinnati, St. Louis and Chicago, but there’s more to it than that.


“We’re set up perfectly to survive things such as this because we have such a diverse economy,” Watson said. “We have so many different corporate citizens that are not affected by COVID-19.” There are two major distilleries in Owensboro. Green River Distilling Co. — formerly O.Z. Tyler Distillery — is the self-proclaimed fourth largest indeOwensboro, Ky., pendent bourbon distillery in the United Mayor Tom Watson States. The other is alcohol manufacturer Sazerac. Distilleries usually benefit from some tourism, but, as Watson put it, people continued to drink during the pandemic. Plus, they also began to manufacture hand sanitizer. There’s also a tobacco factory in Owensboro, which is owned by Swedish Match. According to CNN, the company, headquartered in Stockholm, “saw surprising double-digit sales growth in the second quarter, fueled by demand for its nicotine patches in the United States.” U.S. Bank also employs many people in Owensboro, and during the pandemic, people actually spent a lot of time refinancing once interest rates dropped. The company also helped residents apply for more than $16 million in Paycheck Protection Program Loans. Another corporation, Uni First, which provides uniforms for essential workers, was even more in demand. Then there’s Owensboro Grain, which produces grains, soybeans and other agricultural products and ships them all across the world. Per Watson, the Owensboro Health Regional Hospital employs 4,000 workers and did not need to furlough or lay off any of its workers. The same goes for the second largest employer in the area, the public school system. “We’re not dependent on one manufacturing company that has maybe 5,000 employees,” Watson said. “We have a lot of smaller ones that could continue to work. Our general fund was not affected by COVID.” Additionally, Owensboro, which has a population of about 60,000, actually qualified for money from the CARES Act to help cover the extra hours first responders were working. The city also benefited from other relief aid initiatives during the pandemic. “I always tell people we’re too big to be little and too little to be big, so that makes us just right,” Watson said. “That kind of proved itself during the COVID issue.” Seemingly, the only industries that were impacted by the pandemic were the smaller restaurants and tourism. Owensboro is part of the Bourbon Trail. It also houses the Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame and Museum, which has been honored with the Kentucky History Award and is highly rated by Trip Advisor as a “must see” for all bluegrass lovers. Other draws include Owensboro Museum of Fine Art, Owensboro Museum of Science & History and the Western Kentucky Botanical Garden. “The balance of our economy is so diverse that we really weren’t affected at all,” Watson said. “In fact, people that were maybe losing their jobs to small restaurants and small businesses, they were actually picked up by other companies. It just worked out really well. We’ve been truly blessed.” 

A stop on the Kentucky’s Bourbon Trail, Green River Distilling Co. is one of the oldest bourbon distilleries in the world, with its location having been used to produce bourbon whiskey since 1885. It is one of two distilleries that call Owensboro home. (Photo provided by Green River Distilling Co.)

From health care to agriculture, Owensboro has a diverse economy. Owensboro Grain is one of its major employers. It produces grains and other agricultural products that are shipped all across the world. (Chelsea Lussier/Shutterstock.com)

Owensboro, Ky., is home to the Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame and Museum, one of the many attractions that draw tourism. (Shutterstock.com)

DECEMBER 2020 | THE MUNICIPAL  47


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Holiday

Cities come alive to light up the holidays Shutterstock photo

By JANET PATTERSON | The Municipal

In the darkest season of the year, some municipalities come to life with the lush colors of the holiday season. It’s that time when the lights come out of the boxes and bins, and trees and shrubbery take on a new glow … it’s holiday lights time! While lights here and there are not uncommon, there are places where the holiday season brings out the best and the brightest. Bentleyville “Tour of Lights” Bentleyville sprang to life in 2001 when Nathan Bentley, who owns an emblem and screen-printing business in Duluth, Minn., started the lighting display at his home on a busy road in a Duluth suburb. “I guess I wanted to beat out the neighbors who were also decorating,” Bentley recalled. It wasn’t long before one of his co-workers facetiously started referring to the light display as “Bentleyville,” referring to the Dr. Seuss holiday story about Whoville.

By 2003, the display had grown so much that Bentley changed it from a drive-by event to a walkthrough display with Santa Claus visiting on weekends. “When we moved to a town outside Duluth, I kept adding more and more lights, and it grew so much in two years that the neighbors just wanted it to go away.” To control the crowds, Bentley arranged to use some nearby horse pastures for parking and shuttled visitors to his home on nine school buses. He estimates there were 72,000 visitors taking in the delights of Bentleyville. By 2008, Bentley needed a break, so he decided to take the year off. But the city of Duluth had other ideas. Bentley received a phone call from Duluth’s Mayor Don Ness asking him to bring the display to the city. “We formed a nonprofit, put together a board of directors and moved to a 22-acre park,” Bentley said. On Nov. 27, 2009, Bentleyville “Tour of Lights” lit up for the first time in Bayfront Festival Park where Bentley’s original team of 25 people plus 600 more volunteers spent more than 10 weeks working their magic. Bentley estimates more than 325,000 people each year enjoy the 5 million lights, warm themselves by bonfires throughout the park, relish holiday refreshments and take time for visits with Santa. The

LEFT: On Nov. 27, 2009, Bentleyville “Tour of Lights” lit up for the first time in Bayfront Festival Park, and it is estimated 325,000 people enjoy the 5 million lights each year. (Photo provided) 50   THE MUNICIPAL | DECEMBER 2020


centerpiece of Bentleyville is a 128-foot Christmas tree built from 17 tons of iron, topped with an 8-foot ball and lit with 150,000 LED lights. “This year we will have the first-ever drive-thru display,” Bentley said, explaining it’s to aid social distancing because of COVID-19. In previous years, the Bentleyville store, which sells souvenirs, and donation boxes in the park helped to foot the $500,000 budget. This year, there will be a $10 per vehicle charge for visitors, and music will be piped into car sound systems as they cruise through Bentleyville. “We’re bringing in a portable road for parts of the park that are not usually drivable,” he added. Bentleyville opens Nov. 21 and operates starting at 5 p.m. every day until Dec. 27.

Every year, new scenes are added to Bright Lights, with the emphasis on businesses and organizations that are a part of the Springfield community, such as Milton-Bradley, now Hasbro, MGM Springfield, the Springfield Thunderbirds hockey team and Lego, which is constructing a giant Lego Santa this year. “After Sept. 11, 2001, we created a Garden of Peace scene with angels and flowers,” Matt said. Bright Nights was also the innovator in having a giant lighted menorah to honor the Jewish community and the first public Kwanzaa display in the United States. She said 2020 has brought accommodations for contactless ticketing through QR codes on cellphones and tickets purchased at the local Big Y grocery chain. Bright Nights has always had special nights and special prices for certain groups, but the pandemic economy has meant an expansion of some of those special rates. “We’ve had bus groups that come every year, but this year can’t afford the $175 admission for their groups because they can only have 50% occupancy. We lowered the price so they can still come and enjoy,” Matt said. COVID-19 has cost Bright Nights in other ways, including $8,000 for masks to outfit the 70 volunteers who help with the event. “And there are ancillary things that we can’t do like our Supper with Santa, the gingerbread house building party and the carriage and wagon rides through the park.” However, come Nov. 20, all 700,000 LED lights will brighten the night beginning at 5 p.m. daily until Jan. 3.

Bright Nights at Forest Park in Springfield, Mass., features Seussland, a nod to one of its famous natives, Dr. Seuss. (Photo provided)

Bright Nights at Forest Park Further north, Bright Nights at Forest Park lights up the winter sky in Springfield, Mass. This collaboration between the city of Springfield and local nonprofit Spirit of Springfield celebrates the people and businesses that have put Springfield on the map. Judy Matt, the president of Spirit of Springfield, and Pat Sullivan, superintendent of the city’s parks department, have worked in partnership since the project started in 1995. In those 26 years, Bright The residents of Windcrest, Texas, full-heartedly get into the Nights has hosted more than 5 million people driving through the 3 holiday spirit, decking their homes in lights. Each year the city 1/2 miles of 400 lighted displays while listening to holiday music on has a theme with 2020 being “Let Freedom Ring — A Tribute to our Military.” (Photo provided) radio station WELF. “It’s just glorious,” declared Matt, who tells of the early days when she sent designs for the displays to Audrey Geisel, widow of Theodor Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss, who was a Springfield native. Today Light Up Windcrest visitors enter the Seussland area of Bright Nights to see Horton, Mul- “There are people who move here just because of Christmas,” said berry Street and even the Grinch, all in LED lights. Elizabeth Dick, coordinator of marketing and public relations for The 600-acre Forest Park, which is home to Bright Nights, was the Windcrest, Texas. The Light Up Windcrest tradition goes back to the town’s founding work American landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted, who designed New York City’s Central Park and the grounds of the U.S. in 1959 when Barbee and Murray Winn, who owned a chain of departCapitol in Washington, D.C. ment stores, handed each new homeowner a string of Christmas lights. DECEMBER 2020 | THE MUNICIPAL  51


continued from page 51

From its beginning, the tradition of decorating homes has grown as He designed the town around a circle in its center, and that’s where the population increased to 6,000 residents living in about 2,500 for 36 years, John Spiegel has been helping the city light up with a varihomes in 2 square miles northeast of San Antonio. ety of lighted groupings of pink flamingoes, blue dolphins and orange Festivities begin before Thanksgiving with the lighting of the tree at snails among the ever-popular snow people and Christmas angels. the Windcrest Civic Center. “We dedicate that tree to someone each “It all started on a bet,” Spiegel said of the Sebring Carousel of Lights. year, and this year we’re dedicating it to Purple Heart recipients and “I was on a committee to pick decorations from a company in Orlando.” their survivors. It will be a purple tree.” Dick said Windcrest is sur- He just wasn’t satisfied with lighted candy canes hanging from the rounded by military installations and is often lovingly referred to as light posts around the circle. Fort Windcrest. “So, I said to my friend, a local deejay, ‘I can do better than this by In fact, this year’s theme for Light Up Windcrest is “Let Freedom myself.’ So, we made a little bet.” Ring — A Tribute to Our Military.” Spiegel found a retired welder in nearby Lake City, and he began While the residents do some serious decorating to keep their light- sending him simple sketches of whimsical animals associated with ing tradition alive, Dick said the city and the local Women’s Club hand Florida and the water. “I would go through coloring books to find just out awards in categories that make the competition fun. If lighting the the right look.” He sent the drawings to the welder who spent his summer creating whole house is not going to work, she said, there have been prizes for the best mailbox, storage building, window or entrance. the figures, which Spiegel lights with what he calls “old-fashioned fila“There’s also the Clark Griswold award for the most lights,” she said, ment incandescent bulbs.” He said he has no idea how many bulbs referring to the lighting fiasco in the movie “Christmas Vacation.” he uses to create the wonderland but knows he orders them by the Visitors to Windcrest can pick up maps of the prize-winning dis- case, which is 1,000 bulbs. While the city contracts with Spiegel to produce the annual event plays to not miss one moment of sparkle. This year, however, instead of the many categories judged by local notables such as the county that runs nightly from Thanksgiving weekend to Dec. 26, he said the sheriff, people will receive a map to every participating house so they sale of refreshments and a variety of games helps to make up most of the difference in the cost of the project. can vote for their favorite display. “Since we probably won’t be able to have a winner’s dinner in Janu“This year we won’t have the games and the refreshments, but that’s ary, we’ll give one prize instead of many,” she said. okay if we don’t make any money.” “Light Up Windcrest just brightens the city during the dark time of Spiegel said there will still be children talking to Santa in the prothe year,” Dick added. Her goal for 2021 is to get the city to help fund tection of a large piece of Plexiglas. He’s hoping to arrange the Santa the largest Christmas tree in Texas. photos so they look as natural as possible. “We have families who tell me they have a picture from every year of their family with Santa. They sometimes move to another part of Florida but still come back because this is a tradition for them.” Another part of the holiday light tradition that won’t happen this year is the Singing Zoo, which features 14 life-size puppet heads that sing and tell jokes to an audience sitting on bleachers. The programs, which run periodically through the evenings, are interactive with the well-hidden puppet master talking to children in the audience. “We just can’t do that and social distance, so we’ll not have it this year.” One of the later additions to the display has been a couple of snow machines that Spiegel said have become quite popular with the Florida children who have never experienced a white Christmas.  Read about McAdenville, N.C’s and Warsaw, Ind.’s light displays exclusively on our website: www.themunicipal.com. The lights created for the Sebring Carousel of Lights make nods to Florida’s wildlife, from alligators and seahorses to pink flamingoes and blue dolphins. (Photo provided)

Sebring Carousel of Lights Tiny Sebring, Fla., is a city built at the turn of the 20th century by an Ohioan, George Sebring, who wanted to lure his wealthy friends from the bitter northern winters to the serene warmth of south-central Florida. Sebring established the town around groves of orange trees and incorporated it with the stipulation there would be no heavy industry. 52   THE MUNICIPAL | DECEMBER 2020

On the Web To learn more about the light displays, check out these websites: • Bentleyville “Tour of Lights” — bentleyvilleusa.org • Windcrest Light Up — https://www.windcrest-tx.gov/190/ Windcrest-Light-Up • Carousel of Lights — https://visitsebring.com/event/ carousel-of-lights/ • Bright Nights at Forest Park — brightnights.org


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Waste & Recycling There are around 20 million real Christmas trees sold annually. Instead of letting them decompose in landfills, towns across the country are coming up with creative recycling programs to give these trees a second life. (Photo provided by The National Christmas Tree Association)

Towns get creative to give Christmas trees a second life By MAGGIE KENWORTHY | The Municipal

According to the National Christmas Tree Association, there are 20 million real Christmas trees sold in the United States each year. Each of these trees is decorated for a few weeks, only to be disposed of when their needles start to turn brown or the holiday season passes. But, instead of letting a majority of these trees decompose in landfills, municipalities across the nation have started more than 4,000 local Christmas tree recycling programs. One of the most common forms of this program is to transform the Christmas trees into mulch. “It’s really a win-win for everyone,” explained Tim O’Connor, executive director of The National Christmas Tree Association. “It takes the cost of buying mulch out for the park district and lets them keep everything looking really nice, and it gives the trees a really good second life.” The parks and community services department in Euless, Texas, is one of the many locations that puts on this type of tree recycling program. Euless first started its Christmas tree recycling program in 1988 as part of the city’s commitment to Tree City USA. Each year, residents drop off between 50 to 100 trees to be recycled instead of thrown away.

54   THE MUNICIPAL | DECEMBER 2020

The department then hosts a Christmas tree recycling event each year. At the event, the department puts on a tree mulching demonstration and gives away bags of mulch and tree saplings to residents. The rest of the mulch collected is used in landscaping beds around the town that can tolerate a more acidic product. “Residents drop off their tree either before, during or after our threehour event. Our parks department runs the trees collected through our tree chipper and then distributes the mulch to the citizen so that they can use it in their landscaping beds,” explained Ray McDonald, director of the Euless Parks and Community Services Department. “Our horticulturist is on-hand the day of the recycling event to answer any questions (residents) might have regarding how to use the mulch.” Each year the event is well attended, and this program is one that the town hopes to continue to put on for years to come. “It strengthens our relationship with the community, saves our landfill from getting overrun with trees and helps fulfill our commitment as a Tree City,” explained McDonald.


The Christmas tree recycling program put on in Euless collects around 50 trees. During the recycling demonstration, residents are invited to ask a local horticulturist questions. (Photo provided by the Euless Parks and Community Services Department)

McDonald encourages other municipalities leaders who do not yet have a tree recycling program to consider starting one. “Encourage your park board to get behind the cause and help promote the program throughout the community,” said McDonald. If a municipality doesn’t have a large need for mulch or wants to get more creative with their program, there are plenty of other options out there. “There are communities where they have sand dunes along coastal areas where they use the trees — they anchor them into the areas where there’s erosion — and then the trees, they act as snow fences essentially,” said O’Connor. “There are areas that have waterways, where they use the trees along the banks of streams. Those become staked into the banks, where the streams are eroding and they help with the erosion of the streams. There are places where they have fish habitats, mostly lakes, where they put the trees out on the ice when (lakes are) frozen, and as they thaw, the trees submerge and become a habitat for fish … I’ve even seen some communities where there are zoos that give the trees to the large animals to play with.” Pine Knoll Shores, N.C., is one of the coastal municipalities that uses its Christmas tree recycling program to help prevent erosion. “We don’t have quite as bad winter erosion as further north in the state, but we certainly have massive significant erosion during storms. In fact, (Hurricane) Florence removed a considerable amount of sand,” said Brian Kramer, town manager of Pine Knoll Shores. “We have several things that we do and one of them is this program, which is to take Christmas trees and place them anywhere we see that the secondary dune network has a gap in it.” The town first began this program 10 years ago after Kramer heard about it during a conference. “Christmas trees are perfect. You put them down, and for a couple months, they still have their needles and they trap a lot of sand,” said Kramer. “And the best part about it is it’s natural, so they just erode away. There’s no issues of debris left.” Residents are asked to drop off their trees at a public beach access parking lot. Normally, the town brings in around 150 trees, with some

A former Euless Parks and Community Services Department employee, left, helps a citizen gather a bag of mulch after a Christmas tree recycling demonstration. The rest of the mulch will be used for the town’s landscaping throughout the year. (Photo provided by the Euless Parks and Community Services Department)

Euless Parks and Community Services Department employees Chandler Oster, left, and Carson Merchant pose with a Tree City USA flag during last year’s Christmas Tree Recycling event. The program first started in 1988 as a commitment to the town’s Tree City USA designation. (Photo provided by the Euless Parks and Community Services Department)

being collected by another nearby municipality. Then, the public works department spends around one week placing all the trees in mid-January. While there is no education portion to the program, the residents are informed about the final use for the trees before dropping them off. Kramer explained this program goes right along with the town’s mission of “inspiring appreciation and conservation of North Carolina’s aquatic environments.” “If you have an object that you were going to dispose of, rather than going to a landfill, having it used for a good purpose, for protection of the town … is just a net positive. It’s a win-win,” said Kramer. “People don’t have to worry about trees unnecessarily going to the landfill, we don’t take up landfill space and we make good use of them for protection of the beach and creation of dunes.”  DECEMBER 2020 | THE MUNICIPAL  55


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Conference Calendar EDITOR’S NOTE: In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, readers are encouraged to verify their conference’s status. The Municipal has updated entries’ statuses with information available as of press time; however, as the situation is still fluid, plans may change rapidly.

DECEMBER Dec. 1-3 Connecticut Conference of Municipalities Convention Virtual https://www.ccm-ct.org/ convention Dec 2-4 Florida Parking & Transportation Association Annual Conference & Trade Show Palm Beach Gardens, Fla. https://www.flapta.org Dec. 7-9 Florida Fire Chiefs’ Association’s Safety & Health Conference Virtual www.ffca.org Dec. 8-11 Groundwater Week (Virtual) www.groundwaterweek.com

J A N UA R Y

J A N UA R Y Jan. 12-14 Northern Green 2021 Minneapolis Convention Center, Minneapolis, Minn. www.northerngreen.org Jan. 12-14 SDARWS Annual Technical Conference (Cancelled) Pierre Ramkota Hotel & Convention Center, Pierre, S.D. http://www.sdarws.com/ annual-conference.html Jan. 12-14 Georgia Association of Chiefs of Police Winter Training Conference Jekyll Island Convention Center, Jekyll Island, Ga. https://gachiefs.com/ Jan. 13-15 Arkansas Municipal League Winter Conference Virtual www.arml.org

Jan. 9-13 Florida Police Chiefs Association MidWinter Training Conference & Exposition Rosen Plaza Hotel, Orlando, Fla. fpca.com

Jan. 17-22 NRPA Event Management School (Cancelled) Oglebay, Wheeling, W.Va. www.nrpa.org/careerseducation/education/eventmanagement-school/

Jan. 12-13 Mississippi Fire Chiefs Mid-Winter Conference The Mill Conference Center at Mississippi State University, Starkville, Miss. www.msfirechiefs.org

Jan. 18-21 Fire Department Safety Officers Association Conference TradeWinds Island Grand, St. Pete Beach, Fla. www.fdsoa.org

Jan. 12-14 Landscape Ontario Congress Virtual www.locongress.com

Jan. 18-29 Nevada Water Resources Association Annual Conference Virtual http://www.nvwra.org/2021ac-week

Jan. 20-23 Fire-Rescue East Daytona Beach, Fla. www.ffca.org Jan. 21-22 Massachusetts Municipal Association Annual Meeting & Trade Show Virtual www.mma.org Jan. 21-22 Michigan Water Environment Association Annual Wastewater Administrators Conference Bavarian Inn Lodge & Conference Center, Frankenmuth, Mich. www.mi-wea.org Jan. 21-23 U.S. Conference of Mayors 89th Winter Meeting Washington, D.C. www.usmayors.org/meetings/ Jan. 24-26 Alabama Recreation and Parks Association State Conference SpringHill Suites Orange Beach at The Wharf, Orange Beach, Ala. www.arpaonline.org Jan. 26-28 WASTECON Virtual wastecon.org Jan. 27-29 Indiana Association of Chiefs of Police Mid-Winter Conference & Tradeshow Crowne Plaza Hotel, Indianapolis, Ind. www.iacop.org

Jan. 27-29 Alabama City County Management Association Winter Conference Embassy Suites by Hilton, Hoover, Ala. www.accma-online.org Jan. 28 Rhode Island League of Cities & Towns Virtual Convention Virtual www.rileague.org Jan. 28-30 IAPD/IPRA Soaring to New Heights Conference (Virtual) www.ilparksconference.com Jan. 27-29 Arizona City/County Management Association Winter Conference Hilton Sedona Resort, Sedona, Ariz. azmanagement.org/events/ Jan. 25-28 Heavy Duty Aftermarket Week ’21 Virtual www.hdaw.org Jan. 26-28 Underground Construction Technology International Conference & Exhibition (Rescheduled: May 18-20) Music City Center, Nashville, Tenn. www.uctonline.com

F E B R UA R Y Feb. 1-4 CADCA National Leadership Forum Gaylord National, National Harbor, Md. www.cadca.org/events

To list your upcoming conference or seminar in The Municipal at no charge, call (800) 733-4111, ext. 2307, or email the information to swright@the-papers.com. 58   THE MUNICIPAL | DECEMBER 2020


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Most Pet-Friendly Cities In the U.S., we love our pets, with an estimated 85 million households owning at least one. The American Pet Products Association projected that 2020 will end with Americans having spent $99 billion on pet ownership. With these figures in mind, including the break down of different expenses, WalletHub compared the 100 largest U.S. cities in terms of pet-friendliness. Three key dimensions were used, including pet budget, such as veterinary care costs, minimum pet-care provider rate per visit and dog insurance premium; pet health and wellness, which considered veterinarians per capita, pet caretakers per capita, dog-friendly shops per capita, average home square footage and more; and outdoor pet-friendliness, such as dog parks per capita, weather, walk score, etc. Overall Rank

1. Tampa, Fla. 2. Austin, Texas 3. Las Vegas, Nev. 4. Orlando, Fla. 5. Seattle, Wash. 6. St. Louis, Mo. 7. Atlanta, Ga. 8. New Orleans, La. 9. Birmingham, Ala. 10. San Diego, Calif.

Total Score

59.83 59.61 59.19 58.78 57.35 56.04 55.93 55.38 55.32 55.10

64   THE MUNICIPAL  |  DECEMBER 2020

Leading the pack was Tampa, Fla., which received a total score of 59.83. It especially scored well in terms of outdoor pet-friendliness and pet health and wellness, though it ranked 26 in the pet budget rankings. The top 10 pet-friendly cities, as ranked by WalletHub, are shared below:

‘Pet Budget’ ‘Pet Health Rank & Wellness’ Rank

26 19 32 45 46 28 30 20 36 76

11 2 17 4 9 20 12 27 22 1

‘Outdoor PetFriendliness’ Rank

4 73 1 24 8 16 35 26 18 34

Source: https://wallethub.com/edu/ most-pet-friendly-cities/5562


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Advertiser Index A

H

Air Tow Trailers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 61

Henderson Products . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .9

All Access Equipment . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3

I

Alumitank . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15

ICC Distribution Group . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Cover, 10-11

AMCS Group . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 62 American Safety & Supply Incorporated . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 62 Andy Mohr Ford . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 60

B BendPak Incorporated . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 Bonnell Industries . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 63 Britespan Building Systems . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7 Bucher Municipal . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16 Buyers Products Company . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 67

C CBI Systems . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 32 Chapin International Incorporated . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24 CleanFix North America . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21 Clearspan Fabric Structures . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 56 Custom Products Corporation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 57

K KM International . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2

L Land Pride . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14 Lube-A-Boom . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 29

M Midwest Sandbags LLC . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 56 Midwest Tractor . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 42 Mile-X Equipment Incorporated . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 32

N National Construction Rentals . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24

O Olsson . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21 Omega Industrial Products . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 59

P E ECM Performance . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 59 Everblades Incorporated . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 25

F FCAR Tech USA, LLC. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 49 Fluid Control Services . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 60 Frost Incorporated . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 62 FSI North America . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 43

Pep Boys . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 29

R Rapid View LLC . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . BACK

S Safety Vision . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 48 Sign Guardian . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 32 Strongwell . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 33

T

G

T2 Systems Incorporated . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 53

Greystone Construction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 48

TrafFix Devices Incorporated . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 66

This index is provided courtesy of the publisher, who assumes no liability for errors or omissions. DECEMBER 2020 | THE MUNICIPAL  65


66   THE MUNICIPAL | DECEMBER 2020


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