Progress Amidst The Pandemic

As we begin the 2021 budget presentations, I wanted to share a letter within our budget document that reflects our progress through the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dear Citizens of Lakewood, and Members of Lakewood City Council:

I am pleased to present you with a balanced budget for calendar year 2021 that reflects our perseverance, progress, vision, and strategic initiatives amidst the challenges of operating in a global pandemic. After being elected last November, I came with core ideals that valued teamwork, public safety, public finance, and innovative ways to implement public policy while also promoting public health throughout our environment, especially for our at-risk population. The COVID-19 pandemic created an environment in which our entire staff along with the community has come together as a team to embrace this vision and key initiatives for the City of Lakewood:

Public Safety and Human Services
o Established a Coronavirus Task Force that regularly meets, and a COVID-19 Playbook outlining our administrative initiatives and policies that will continue to safely guide us through the pandemic.
o Keeping seniors safely at home by delivering meals.
o Responsibly monitoring public spaces to encourage compliance with orders and best practices initiated by the Governor.
o First responders (Police and Fire) remain substantially dedicated to keeping Lakewood safe during the pandemic.

Commerce, Public Health and Welfare, and our Environment
o Rental Relief Program – Pioneered a rental relief program that aids businesses and individuals as we navigated through the Governor’s Stay at Home order and the remainder of the pandemic.
o Established a Small Business Task Force meeting regularly to discuss needs of the business community.
o “Green” Initiatives – Newly ordered Hybrid vehicles are not only eco-friendly, but also projected to save fuel costs. We have also installed public charging stations throughout the City and solar panels on various municipal buildings.
o Successful completion of Wagar Park enhancement. Continued investments in our parks included in the 2021 budget and 5-year capital plan.

Integrity, Strength, Austerity, Capital Planning, and Transparency in Public Finance
o Despite the pandemic, we will finish 2020 in a better financial position than where we started, while continuing to look for ways to enhance our financial position.
o Dramatically reduced overtime by over $500,000 and employed voluntary furloughs to control costs.
o Received the GFOA Award for our CAFR presentation while also earning the Auditor of State’s Award with Distinction and will continue to look for other transparency initiatives.

Along with the work and dedication of our finance team, this budget is a collaborative byproduct of many hours of discussion with all city divisions, the Court, and City Council. Thank you for your efforts and input. Finally, the Executive Summary and the divisional reports will more clearly outline what’s in store in the 2021 Budget. We will team build with strategies and philosophies developed thus far as we continue our progress amidst the pandemic.

Meghan F. George
Mayor & Safety Director

Volume 16, Issue 24, Posted 9:59 AM, 12.02.2020