When Portsmouth City Manager Derek K. Allen arrived in town as the city’s first city manager following the voters’ decision to change from the mayor form to the city manager form of government, he faced an uphill battle with a huge budget deficit.
Allen immediately announced his priorities – balance the budget, balance the budget and balance the budget. Now, he has seen that priority come to near fruition, with a single chink in the budget armor – that old nemesis – the Sewer Fund.
So as he faces a new year, he hopes to see that issue resolved. In an exclusive New Year’s Eve interview with the Daily Times, Allen lays out his priorities for 2017.
“Financially, everything has been straightened out but the Sewer Fund,” Allen said. “So in 2017, financially, we’ve got to get that Sewer Fund turned around.”
The problem that accompanies the Sewer Fund issue is a Consent Order from the EPA that requires the city to do certain projects. “So I’m spending money as quickly as I’m raising revenues,” Allen said. “So that’s my problem.”
On the water side, the city of Portsmouth is anticipating replacing the 30-inch Sunrise Reservoir water-main.
“It runs up Offnere (Street) to Kinney’s Lane up Sunrise,” Allen said. “It’s the one that keeps bursting.”
In addition, one of Allen’s goals for the coming year is to improve the appearance of the city, and, with the combination of the Scioto County Land Bank tearing down dilapidated houses and the hiring of a code enforcement officer, Allen believes those efforts will go a long way toward getting rid of some of the blighted areas of town.
“Another goal, even though we don’t have any Parks Department employees and no money for parks, is to try to get some community involvement to try to get some improvements in our parks,” Allen said. “When things went bad financially, typically parks were the first things that were cut. We had a good parks system and a lot of good parks, and that kind of went to waste. I want to try to improve our parks. That goes hand-in-hand with still trying to build a bike path along the (Ohio) river.”
Allen said he expects to outline his complete plan with a State of the City report, but considers the financial condition and the appearance of the city as his two main objectives in the coming year.
Reach Frank Lewis at 740-353-3101, ext. 1928, or on Twitter @franklewis.