Mayor points to city’s financial health, public safety in year end report

LAKEWOOD – The city fared well during 2010, escaping many of the financial problems that face many of the city’s neighbors, and 2011 offers some promising developments, Mayor Bob Murphy said in his annual Year’s End Report.

“It is time to celebrate accomplishments … some of the things that we accomplished in the City of Lakewood this year,” Murphy told City Council Monday night during the last Council meeting of the year.

Murphy gave credit for the bright outlook to “this council, everybody that works for the City of Lakewood – each and every one of our staff members – and our community, as well, the very, very engaged and active citizenry.”

While most governments in Colorado as well as nation wide are struggling to make ends meet by cutting back on staff, services and other expenses Lakewood has thus far avoided crippling budget problems, adding to the city’s reserve fund for the fourth consecutive year without layoffs or cutbacks in city-provided services, Murphy said.

That came about while the city entered its first full without its long-standing grocery tax, which was eliminated by City Council in response to findings by a city-appointed review panel and a citizen-initiated petition drive that would have sent the matter to a special election.

Among other good news: the city’s crime rate is down for the third consecutive year

“Our fundamental role is keeping Lakewood safe,” Murphy said, praising the Lakewood Police Department as “the best in the state” and acknowledging the role of a vigilant community in safeguarding public safety.

The city also took a large step forward on the issue of government transparency at the beginning of the year, launching The Lakewood Ledger, a searchable online database of the city’s checkbook.

“You can go online and track every single nickel of Lakewood’s revenue and expenses,” Murphy said.

Murphy also noted the city’s role in saving O’Connell Middle School in east-central Lakewood after the school was placed on a Jeffco Public Schools hit-list of facilities to be closed in a money saving measure.

The city lobbied the county school board to spare the school, which serves an economically challenged area of the community. As part of the argument to spare the school, the city revealed plans to launch a Boys and Girls Club at the school, then helped raise the funds to ensure the youth organization could meet its funding goal.

And the city launched a number of small-business initiatives during the year, part of the effort to demonstrate Lakewood is a “small business friendly” community, Murphy said.

Among other 2010 accomplishments on Murphy’s list: a new Head Start preschool center at the new light-rail Garrison Street Station, a Sustainable Neighborhoods Pilot program in the Glennon Heights neighborhood, the Seniors Mentoring Program, the opening of Ortho-Care Colorado Hospital on the St. Anthony Hospital campus, the pending July opening of St. A’s, and the progress of light-rail construction.

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