A year in review for Houston and looking forward to a great 2018

This year has been a very busy one, I was hired July 24, 2017, and hit the ground running. In the almost six months as your city administrator, I have worked closely with the city employees and the city council and together we accomplished great things for the city in 2017 and will continue going into 2018 and beyond.

Communication is the best management tool one can use. I have set up monthly team meetings with the department heads to discuss weekly priorities and future needs. The department heads are my experts in the field, they have welcomed me and educated me on some of the specific issues they face.

There have been a lot of personnel changes in quite a few of the departments this year. As employees move on to new careers it opens doors for others to become employees of the great City of Houston. This year we hired a new water/sewer manager. In 2018, we will be hiring a new city clerk; a parks director; two part-time employees to work in parks department, a new electrical worker, a water/sewer worker, an economic development coordinator and a new police officer.

You may remember the flooding from May. It hit Houston hard with a lot of damage to streets, infrastructure around the sewer treatment plant and along Brushy Creek. We are so lucky to have the best grant writer working for the City of Houston. Elaine Campbell was ready for all mounds of paperwork and documentation necessary for the FEMA flood recovery money. The City of Houston was one of the few that qualified for FEMA funded projects and started to receive the funding related to the flood of 2017. In 2018, we will be accomplishing the needed repairs throughout the city that were hit by the flood.

In addition to FEMA funds, the city was also recipients of grants that were submitted by Elaine. She has worked on the airport grant, the highway widening project with Mo- DOT and the sidewalks on U.S. 63.

This year we have had many issues brought forth to the city for input and decisions. We have hosted public meetings to seek community involvement. At council meetings we are excited to have citizens attend our meetings to see how we are doing and provide us feedback. In 2018 we hope many of you will come and attend council meetings. They are held the first and third Mondays at 6:30 p.m.

I love numbers, spending the citizens of Houston’s hard-earned tax dollars is the most important aspect of my job. I know this is a huge fiduciary responsibility. I have worked very hard this year in adjusting 2017 budget at the end of the year. 2018 budget is balanced and includes much needed supplies and upgrades for health and safety of employees and the citizens of Houston.

A much-needed police vehicle was purchased in 2017. The city police have been using worn out vehicles and outdated equipment for many years. This year we were able to purchase new vests to keep them safe. In 2018, we have budgeted for new tasers, additional training as mandated, internet hotspots for the vehicles so officers have access to records in their vehicles and a records management system and another new vehicle to keep our officers safe.

I am looking forward to an exciting and prosperous year in 2018. We have many great things planned and included in the budget. I want to work on a visioning plan for the future of the City. I am planning on hosting public meetings to seek input for what citizens of Houston want to see for their city. A way to pay utility bills online is coming in January.

My door is always open, feel free to call at 417-260-1733 or email me at cityadministrator@houstonmo.org.

Thank you for allowing me to be your city administrator and have a happy and safe new year.

Tona Bowen is the city administrator of Houston.

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