The City of Ashland had a rough 2012, but things are already looking up in 2013, city officials said Thursday.
Presenting his annual report of city statistics to the Ashland City Commission last week, Ashland City Manager Steve Corbitt called 2012 the “worst year” he had experienced during his tenure at the city.
“We have a lot of challenges,” he said, adding later, “It ended well, but it was a very tough year.”
According to the report, the city failed to operate within its budget for the second year in a row because of soaring health insurance costs, which have risen by 35 percent. To contain the expense, officials reduced health-care benefits for employees in July, raising their share of the cost and implementing a fee for employees whose spouses have access to health care through their employer but don’t take advantage of them.
Other dark spots in the report, according to Corbitt, include the 30 percent recorded drop in commercial construction projects, a 17 percent decrease in federal funding for city projects and a four percent dip in revenues.
Even with all the challenges, Corbitt said, 2013 is showing some signs of improvement, with more than $30 million in new construction inside the city having already been announced. It will more than double 2012’s total of $17 million in construction. The second phase on Melody Mountain accounts for more than $12 million in expected construction while the Verity Middle School project will account for another $12 million. Two new Carter Avenue developments — a new medical office and a credit union — are $3 million each.
Corbitt compiles the 14-page summary of city statistics across all departments annually. “Being an engineer, I like figures to start with,” Corbitt said, noting the report helps him to see details across departments and analyzes what areas need improvements or are making improvements compared to prior years.
Other statistics in the report include:
The Ashland Police Department answered more than 27,000 calls for service in 2012, a nine percent drop from 2011. Traffic citations jumped 39 percent, with police issuing 5,550 traffic citations and 1,852 parking tickets.
Although 12 percent fewer vehicle crashes took place inside the city, 920 recorded incidents, the number of people injured in them climbed by more than 50 percent to 389. There were no fatalities.
Police made 1,506 arrests on 2,478 charges, a 9 percent increase, in 2012, and presented 72 drug-trafficking cases for prosecution.
The Ashland Fire Department saw its calls for service decline by 46 percent in 2012, down to 1,586 responses to 911 calls. Part of the drop was because of a 68 percent decline in the number of false alarms and a 63 percent drop in public assists, lockouts, elevator entrapments, carbon dioxide alarms and other rescues.
Vehicle fires grew by 123 percent during the year, with firefighters battling 25 such blazes, while structure fires fell 59 percent, to 32 in 2012.
The agency’s ISO rating also climbed to a 3 in 2012, making it the highest-rated department in the region, Corbitt reported.
Public works employees collected more than 20.7 million pounds of residential waste and more than 1 million pounds of recyclable material during 2012, representing a six percent increase over the previous year.
Animal control calls dipped 25 percent. More than 500 animals were taken to the Boyd County Animal Shelter during the year, a drop of 12 percent from 2011.
The amount of drinking water produced and delivered dipped 2 percent in 2012 to 3.88 billion gallons — its lowest level since 2006. Sewage water collected and treated also fell 18 percent down to 1.74 billion gallons. The city inspected more than 22,551 feet of sewer lines and installed more than 2,000 new feet of water lines and 1,500 feet of sewer lines. It repaired 318 water main leaks and paved three miles of city streets at a cost of $238,441.
The city hosted 73 public special events and activities in 2012.
City parks hosted more than 1,500 baseball, 900 softball and 650 soccer practices and games.
There were 45 weddings at Central Park, 100 burials at Ashland Cemetery and 11,000 visitors to Dawson Pool.
Ridership on the Ashland Bus System grew by 10 percent, with 186,612 passengers being transported.
The number of applications taken for city jobs rose 267 percent, with more than 434 applications accepted.
Five employees retired, eight were terminated, eight resigned and seven were promoted during 2012. Twenty positions were eliminated, three new jobs added and 17 new employees were hired along with 35 seasonal workers and three interns. Employees also received a four percent pay raise.
The city had 37 workplace injuries in 2012.
The legal department prepared and presented 87 ordinances and 32 resolutions during 212. The city has 315 cases pending in Boyd County Circuit Courts.
CARRIE STAMBAUGH can be reached at email@example.com or (606) 326-2653.