Mayor Tom Arthur says his first month in office "has been interesting" -- getting settled into the office, dealing with a chemical spill that threatened the city's water supply and this week's snow storms.
But, Arthur feels he is on track and is holding to his stated goals: City finances and cleaning up residential neighborhoods.
Arthur gave his "State of the City" address to Brazil Rotarians at their weekly meeting in the Elks Lodge on Wednesday at noon.
Present was former mayor Kenny Crabb.
"I've talked to many other first-time mayors around the state and they all say I was lucky," Arthur said. "They took office and found all the cabinets and bookshelves had been emptied. I am still going through material and finding new things all the time. I thank Mayor Crabb for helping me."
Arthur has set high standards for city employees. He has told them they have two priorities: 1. Professionalism and 2. Customer Service.
"All of us live in Brazil because we want to," he said. For that reason, he wants city employees to look upon residents as businesses look upon customers.
Heavy snowfall has caused some concern among residents.
"I've received many calls from people asking, 'When will my street be plowed?' Arthur said. Then, joking with his former boss, Clay Schools Superintendent William Schad, he said, "I imagine you have received many calls, too."
Schad replied in kind, "Yes, and I've given them your number!" The crowd laughed.
Arthur had asked Street Superintendent Dave Tucker if the city was ready for snow; that was before this week's storms. Assured the city was ready with two snowplows, Arthur felt confident when the first snow fell. He was pleased with the city's response but noticed the streets weren't as clear after the second snowfall.
Arthur is trying to "get a handle on city finances." He is making plans to improve Brazil's fiscal situation through grant applications and other means.
Concerning his number 2 priority, cleaning up residential areas, Arthur said Planning Director Michele Driscoll has been doing a good job, but felt she needed a little extra motivation, so she has been given the use of a former police car to use on the job, which has pleased her tremendously.
Arthur hopes to learn from the experience of Linton, Ind.
The Greene County city is planning block parties at which residents will clean up each neighborhood, he said.
The mayor is also organizing the city police department to concentrate on fighting drug abuse and domestic abuse.
City fire department personnel are visiting various businesses to see how buildings are laid out.
He used the example of a greenhouse fire a few years ago. Firefighters said it was difficult to navigate the smoke-filled building and a prior familiarity with it would have helped.
Firefighters are also embarking on a physical fitness and training campaign.
"Rob Moore has graciously consented to contribute training materials," Arthur said.
Arthur hopes to get the U.S. 40 widening project through town moving again. He hopes to identify funding resources, apply for transportation grants and possibly add a $1-$2 per month storm water run-off fee to help finance improvements. That is what the added fee might cost residents; large businesses, such as Wal-Mart would pay a higher fee due to paved parking lots that drain large amounts of rain water into sewers.
Speaking of another item of interest, street repairs, Arthur said repairs are still a priority, but will take time to complete.
No questions were asked of Arthur following the relatively short speech.