By Ken de la Bastide
Tribune enterprise editor
TIPTON — In his first “State of the City” address since taking office in 2012, Tipton Mayor Don Havens spelled out an ambitious plan for the future.
Havens gave the address Thursday at the Tipton High School to the senior class and local residents.
He opened the address by telling the class of 2013 that a number of them will be an integral part of the community’s future.
“If a number of you are not then the future of our community is a troubled future,” Havens said.
Havens said the big story for the city was the announcement by Chrysler Group LLC that it purchased the former Getrag Transmission plant at the intersection of U.S. 31 and Ind. 28 and was investing $200 million that will create 850 jobs.
“Tomorrow we need to carry forward with community preparation for capturing opportunities that come out of progress on the economic development front, especially Chrysler,” he said. “Now we must plan to attract our share of he family units accepting this employment. Hope is not enough, we must invest time, energy, creativity and money into making our community a place where others want to live.”
Havens said in the future the city is looking to develop a website for local government and is exploring possible partnerships to open a health care clinic for employees.
He plans to hire an attorney to act as a consultant for his office and the Tipton Common Council on annexation of areas that already receive city utilities and city services.
“We must do it in a fair and consistent manner,” Havens said. “The property tax cap makes this task politically easier since many property types are at or near the capped level and the taxpayer is not faced with additional substantial taxes.”
Tipton has not developed or implemented an annexation plan in the past six years, he said. Responding to a question, Havens said an attempt was made 20 years ago to annex an area south of the city.
He hoped property owners in Dover View and Cicero Heights would contact the city about possible annexation.
Concerning a new city hall, Havens said the issue has been dormant for two years and must be restarted from a community based standpoint.
“As mayor I will lead our citizens in a process that leads to a determination regarding need, location, style, size and cost of a new city hall,” he said. “If the need points towards a new city hall and I believe it will, it doesn’t necessarily need to be a new building.”
Havens said he will continue on the path of collaboration and partnership with Tipton County and looks for more inter-local agreements involving the utility plant at the Chrysler plant, possible administrative space in a new jail and coordination of county and city road operations.
“We are mostly limited by our desire and ability to work together,” Havens said. “Cooperation begins with mutual trust and respect. I am very happy to report that trust and respect have existed for some time between the mayor and board of commissioners.”
During a question and answer period, Havens was asked how the city could attract new families to the area? Havens said there could be improvements to the parks, construction of hiking and bicycle trails and improving the visual appearance of the city.
“We want to look like we’re expecting company,” he said. “We want to connect ourselves with the surrounding communities. We can sell our community and the Grand Park being developed in Westfield.”
Havens said Tipton County’s population is expected to decline by 10 percent in the next decade while Hamilton County’s to the south is expected to double in the same time span.
“If we can show the advantages of living in Tipton and being close to the facilities in other communities,” he said. “Instead of a decline of 10 percent, maybe we could grow by 10 percent. We have to provide hope and promise for youth.”
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