"I am proud of what is happening in our city and I won't apologize for progress. I won't do it," Mayor Kelly Mollaun told citizens Friday.
Video production of the 2019 State of the City address was presented by NOW Broadcasting Live LLC.
(Lawrenceburg, Ind.) – Three years into his first term, Lawrenceburg Mayor Kelly Mollaun says he won’t apologize for the progress his administration, city council, and city employees have made.
“It takes a lot of hard work and a lot of hours. We have done everything you have heard today and more without raising taxes, without jeopardizing our financial security, without sacrificing the support of all of our non-profits, and without cutting any services that we currently provide to any and all citizens here in Lawrenceburg,” Mollaun told a crowd gathered to hear his 2019 State of the City address at the Lawrenceburg Event Center on Friday afternoon.
After a 40-minute address last year, the Republican mayor kept his promise to keep this speech short. He named his administration’s three priorities – education, economic development, and quality of life – and quickly ran down the list of what has been accomplished in regards to each.
Starting with education, Mollaun said the city has kept its $750,000 in annual grant shared among Dearborn County’s three school districts in place, even in the face of declining riverboat revenue. The Paul Tremain Memorial Scholarship Program for students graduating from Lawrenceburg High School has been expanded to help high schoolers pay for early college classes.
School safety has also been supported by the city, with the addition of school resource officers at each Lawrenceburg Community School Corporation building this academic year.
“We want to offer our school staff and students the safest and most technologically advanced learning environment we can possibly offer,” the former school board president said.
Concerning Ivy Tech Community College, the mayor said the city has continued to support and advocate the college’s advanced manufacturing training center at the Lakefront Campus.
On the economic development front, Mollaun pointed to the ongoing progress in downtown. Sixteen new businesses have opened in the historic district and the Lawrenceburg Event Center has become a hub for traffic, he said.
A new 150-unit luxury apartment building to be built on the Ohio River levee in a public-private partnership with Indianapolis-based developer Flaherty & Collins could bring a new population to the city.
“This guarantees us a new segment of property tax revenue and 150 new utility customers. It will also house an additional 200-plus people that will live downtown and support our shops and restaurants.
The development’s economic impact, Mollaun said, will be over $10 million in the first 12 to 15 years.
Ten new homes have been built downtown in empty lots or replaced older homes utilizing a 10-percent tax rebate program, bringing new properties which will fetch more property tax revenue.
Of course, the mayor touched on the ongoing potential for the establishment of the Fourth Port at the former Tanners Creek Power Plant property. He is hopeful the port will become a reality in June of this year, when an extended purchase agreement between property owner Tanners Creek Development and Ports of Indiana expires.
The delay, he said, has been caused by additional requirements from “the feds” for a more stringent cleanup responsibility, “which is a good thing for Lawrenceburg.”
“I have worked very closely with the governor, Ports of Indiana, and INDOT to make sure Lawrenceburg is not negatively affected by a project of this magnitude,” he said. “This is a generational job creator and economic driver for our area for years to come.”
Mollaun also pointed to new businesses filling up the old Kroger plaza, a $5 million city pledge to a new cancer center announced by Highpoint Health, and the city receiving $1.7 million in grants during his first term.
“This is an idea I had from the beginning, to enable Lawrenceburg to share in grant opportunities just like every other municipality. I was told time and time again by a number of people that Lawrenceburg wouldn’t be considered for these grant because we’re a gaming community,” he said, adding persistence pays off.
Improving Lawrenceburg’s quality of life, Mollaun said, is the new Civic Park being constructed at the corner of Short and High streets -- it is expected to be ready to host events by early June. A new splash park will be ready for enjoyment at the Pat O’Neill Memorial Pool in the summer of 2020. The bike sharing partnership with Aurora on the Dearborn Trail has been successful, and the mayor said he remains committed to connecting Lawrenceburg and Greendale trails.
Lawrenceburg’s quick response team established two years ago puts law enforcement and recovery services in touch with drug overdose victims following hospitalization. The QRT program, Mollaun said, is now a model for other communities.
Mollaun shared that everyone, including himself, has been touched by substance abuse. He announced a new substance abuse initiative.
“We weren’t the experts, so I enlisted the governor’s office. He provided us with a consultant paid for by the state to help us identify the gaps we have within our network of organizations that were dealing with this epidemic on a daily basis,” Mollaun said.
Six work groups with the initiative are already at work on the problem.
“The initiative is growing legs and momentum, and in coming weeks and months you'll be hearing more about this initiative… We are a city of action,” he said.
Other quality of life highlights Mollaun touched on included renovated parks, placing security cameras in public spaces, community gardens, and getting the fiber internet utility by Lawrenceburg Municipal Utilities up and running recently.
Just prior to his address, Mollaun welcomed Lawrenceburg High School girls basketball player Juliana Kemper to the podium and presented her with a proclamation declaring February 8, 2019 “Juliana Kemper Day” in the city. Kemper recently set a new career scoring record for the LHS girls basketball program.
“She has never forgotten that basketball is a team sport,” he said.
Mollaun thanked his wife and family for allowing him to dedicate much of his time to the city.
“Lawrenceburg is truly a city on the rise with unlimited potential,” he concluded.