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* Barbara Ellestad, Publisher * ALL Content Copyright 2011-2014*
Mesquite City Manager Andy Barton visits with Mesquite residents at the Senior Center, June 28. Photo by Barbara Ellestad.
Continuing his promised community outreach, City Manager Andy Barton met with Mesquite citizens over lunch at the Mesquite Senior Center, Thursday, June 28.
"One of the important functions of my job is to not stay in City Hall but to get out into the community and find out what people think," Barton told the crowd.
Saying that the City Hall work force currently has 142 employees, he added that "we've had to lay off 31 people in the last two years. That makes it difficult for us to continue providing services at the same level" as in the past.
He remarked that the financial status of the City was in "good shape" with a reserve fund of 30 percent of the operating fund.
During a Q&A period, Barton fielded several questions about the City's role in cleaning up and dressing up properties located along Mesquite and Sandhill Boulevards. "With the places that are in private ownership, there's not much we can do."
Aaron Baker, Economic Development Director, added that "the majority of the properties are held by private property owners. We do reach out to them and let them know they may have redevelopment funds available. The City is hesitant to force someone to do something unless it becomes a life-safety issue. If they choose to clean it up, great. If they don't, it's hard to force [them]. It's a process because it takes money on their end."
When another person suggested fining property owners for unkempt lots, Baker replied that "the City has been hesitant to direct Staff to use policing power to go on to someone's property, clean it up, and then lien the property. We generally use a code enforcement process for that."
Baker added that the City is in the process of hiring a new code enforcement person "because we haven't had one for a while because of budget cutbacks."
Baker went on to explain that a Mesquite Boulevard Corridor Plan was not approved by
previous City Councils. "We can only use it as a guide because it was not [officially] adopted."
Another resident asked Barton about the unsanitary condition of the fishing pond at Hafen Lane Trailside Park. Leisure Services Director Bryan Dangerfield explained that a recently approved project for the Park will address the pond's pumping station problems and alleviate some of the deterioration of the water.
Barton was asked if City Hall would remain closed on Fridays. "A year ago the reason given for closing had to do with energy efficiency and energy savings. As it turns out, there's been a savings of energy generated but there hasn't been a cost savings. A more compelling reason for the closure had to do with our contract with the union," Barton said.
He explained that last year's Union negotiations on behalf of City employees required them to reduce their work week by two hours. "That is primarily the reason City Hall is closed. It's likely City Hall will remain closed on Fridays for another year because it's an issue that has to be negotiated with the Union. There's a lot of sentiment in the community and with City Council to have some sort of presence on Friday. It will probably continue to be closed for at least the next six months," Barton commented.
Barton fielded a question about the lack of 'Section 8' low-income housing in Mesquite. Baker explained that Clark County administers the program and not the City itself.
The last question Barton received dealt with the telephone answering system in City Hall rather than having a person answer calls. "We are looking into ways of making sure a person answers calls at City Hall. We're aware of the problem and we're working on it. We've tried a couple different things over the last year. We've tweaked our voice mail program. I think everyone would be pleased if they got a live human being when they called. Hopefully, we'll have an answer in the next month or so.
Barton's next community outreach gathering will be scheduled for mid-July.
Posted Date: 06/29/2012 Get Theron Jensen to clean up all his properties on Mesquite Blvd. He's a big real estate guy and should be happy to do it. His properties are some of the worst. By: Art
Posted Date: 06/29/2012 Can't the Fire Department condemn the building on the Boulivard that has its windows broken, roof barely intack and the door wide open? Surely this has to be a fire and/or health hazzard. Something must be done with these buildings - not excuses. The town looks AWFUL! By: Nan
Posted Date: 06/29/2012 Good job, Andy. By: Kenny
Posted Date: 06/29/2012 I spoke to the city manager at the senior center and he was a very nice man who listened to everyone. Thank you, Mr. Barton for doing that. By: Ethel
Posted Date: 06/30/2012 Yes, Mesquite Blvd needs to be cleaned up. When Mayor Nichols was in office he kept after property owners to clean up their mess. Since he has left office, Mesquite Blvd. has gone to pot!! Harley's Garage wood structure in front of their property is ready to collapse. The old cafe will probably cave in and trees are falling down. I could go on. Maybe have a community clean up - I would be there! By: Ann