Senior staff writer
Beech Grove Mayor Dennis Buckley expressed unbridled pride in the news that his city’s assessed valuation of all property jumped dramatically in 2017.
In presenting his annual State of the City address, Buckley said the valuation swelled by 5.5 percent last year from a meager increase of 0.07 percent in 2016.
“I can’t begin to tell you how happy this makes me, not only as the mayor but as a citizen as well,” Buckley said. “Your property is worth more.”
In simple terms, increased assessed value usually has a favorable impact upon the city’s eventual property tax rate as determined annually.
Looking ahead, Buckley explained the need to construct a new police station by 2020 and a new fire station in by 2021 to replace the one on Albany Street.
“It is becoming more apparent that the demand on our public safety departments could soon be greater than our ability to respond,” Buckley said. “I feel the demand for our services is ever increasing and soon could overrun us. Simply put, we are out of space in our buildings, yet we continue to grow.”
Buckley praised Beech Grove’s public safety departments for performing at a high level.
In 2017 the Fire Department responded to 5,489 EMS calls and 4,214 fire runs. Police made 23,644 runs.
“It is clear to see that we are running the wheels off our ambulances and fire engines,” said Buckley, a former Beech Grove fire chief. “We have to keep in mind we are making more responses than ever before.”
Police are operating in a 9,000-square-foot building built in 1972 for 20 employees that now has more than 40 employees and a city court plus new technology.
A new police headquarters would allow for separation of suspects, proper storage of documents and evidence and a secure area where officers can process individuals under arrest.
Buckley reported that two additional officers were hired bringing the force to 35 officers and purchases of nine new police cars and 24 portable radios. Body armour was replaced and new protection shields were bought for police officers.
Last year firefighters received new structural firefighting gear, new portable radios, new thermal imaging cameras, and one ambulance was re-chassied.
The mayor also pointed out:
• Clean and safe city parks with added walkways in Sarah T. Bolton Park and Americans With Disabilities Act compliance at Challis Park.
• New sidewalks were constructed on South Sixth and Churchman avenues.
• Drainage and storm water issues were finally resolved around North Bend and Redfern Drive after 50 years of problems to residents, along with nine other areas where drainage was improved.
• Sanitary sewer lines were upgraded in four neighborhoods.
“Our services provided are topnotch,” Buckley concluded. “I look forward to the continued growth of our beautiful city.”
Plans are ongoing for a roundabout at Arlington and Churchman avenues for 2019 and the first phase of a 2020 greenway behind South Grove School.