New Carlisle’s new City Manager Randy Bridge talked candidly with the New Carlisle News late last week about his thoughts on taking on the role of city manager amid the issues facing the city as well as his goals for the future. Bridge officially began his duties on Thursday, April 23.

Bridge said that during the past few years as the city’s Planning Director he has come to know many city residents and business-owners, and believes that his established presence in town will “lessen the unknowns of the new manager.”

“I have been asked a rather obvious question on many occasions, ‘why are you taking on this role given the current state of the city?’” Bridge said. “My answer is simple. I believe in this town,” he said, adding: “Rome was not built in a day, and Rome was not built by a single person. It will be through collaboration, long nights, sound decisions, peaceful disagreements, accountable actions, victories and losses that will make this town what it deserves and can be.”

Concerning former City Manager Kim Jones’ resignation, Bridge said Jones cared deeply about New Carlisle and served as “the voice and mind behind many positive changes the City has seen over the past several years.”

“The resignation of Kim Jones did hurt the City of New Carlisle,” said Bridge. “Mrs. Jones was a very dedicated public employee of the City, giving over 17 years of her professional career to this city...I will always respect Mrs. Jones,” he added.

Bridge said Jones hired him soon after he completed graduate school, and credited her with being the reason he is still with the city. “She may not realize it, but I did learn much from her,” Bridge said about Jones. “Mrs. Jones allowed me to take the Planning Department in the direction I thought it should go. I felt as though she always trusted my decisions and often gave me sound advice. We miss her at the City Offices; she is a warm-hearted, thoughtful person,” he said.

Looking toward the future, Bridge said his goal is to lead a successful New Carlisle, noting that he does have a plan in place. He said that in the upcoming months, he plans to study each of the city’s departments as well as their respective staff members, and will then analyze the findings to identify methods of better-using the city’s resources.

“It is the city staff that makes this town operational and they know the details of their respective positions,” said Bridge. “I would be a fool to try and initiate any operational changes without first obtaining their feedback based upon their day to day experience,” he said.

The city’s budget, which has been publically called into question in recent months, is also an area Bridge intends to address. “I plan to look heavily at the city revenue sources and expenditures and how they are affecting our budget,” he said. “I am fiscally conservative and we will look for creative ways to reduce our expenditures and increase our revenues while continuing to be ethical stewards of taxpayer money. I would also like to create a few different budget forecasts that will help guide the budgetary decisions of this administration.”

He also touted the importance of economic development as key to city growth, saying that New Carlisle relies heavily upon the network of small businesses that call the area home. “We need to gain industry and jobs that will expand and grow our tax base,” he said. “This endeavor cannot be taken alone. The continued involvement with economic development type groups, such as the Western Clark County Business Coalition, are crucial to business expansion and development here in New Carlisle. With this, we will be able to attract residents that will work and live in the city.”

We asked Bridge to address the residents in town who are vocally against the city’s police levy on next week’s ballot. Bridge said the levy is important to the public safety and financial health aspects of the city. Bridge said the levy is “earmarked” for police expenses only, and would allow the city to renegotiate the city’s contract with the Clark County Sheriff’s Office.

“We could then reincorporate deputies back into New Carlisle in 2016 when the levy funds would be available for expenditure,” said Bridge. “This would free up General Fund money that is currently used to fund the current police contract. With this stress removed, we could then build the General Fund to what it should be; to cover debt obligations, operation expense, and building a reserve.”

Bridge also noted the rising costs of city operations, saying the city too is experiencing the same cost increases felt by New Carlisle families. “Do you pay the same for healthcare, or electric, or a ream of printing paper that you did 20 years ago? Neither does the City. Despite being creative with the budget, it is the price of goods and services that often create the most problems,” Bridge said.

When asked if the city was in need of a theoretical rebuilding in the wake of recent issues such as deputy cuts and budget issues, Bridge replied:

“I would ask that non-supporters re-evaluate their stance and understand New Carlisle has a very low income tax rate as it is. This slight increase would further protect their families, homes, neighbors, and personal belongings. Public safety is important as it affects things people may not think of on a daily basis. Home values, neighborhood characteristics, the perception of New Carlisle, and economic development efforts are all influenced by the presence of law enforcement patrolling our streets. Increased police presence equals a safer community. Simply put, statistics tell us the ‘bad guys’ go where the police are not. Voters are not only investing in themselves, but they are investing in their city as well,” Bridge said.

Randy Bridge is 37 years-old, and was born in Hamilton, Ohio. He was raised in the suburbs of Cincinnati and attended Reading High School. He received a BA in Political Science, a MA in Applied Behavioral Sciences; Criminal Justice and Social Problems, and a Masters of Public Administration, all from Wright State University.

“I have a passion for public service and I think my educational attainments show that,” said Bridge.

A somewhat private person, Bridge said his other passions include riding roller coasters and being near the ocean. An avid fan of Ohio State, Bridge said his favorite time of the year is OSU football season. He spoke affectionately of his dog Dewey, a Rottweiler/Chow mix who will be 11 years-old in August.

“We have been through some tough times as Dewey had major lung surgery in May of last year to remove a lung tumor,” he said. “He is currently undergoing low-dose chemotherapy in pill form...he is living life as nothing happened,” Bridge said.

Residents are always invited to attend the New Carlisle City Council meetings to voice their opinions and interact with city officials. The meetings are held the first and third Monday of each month at the Smith Park Shelter House at 7 p.m.

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