For many people, the start of a new year means resolving to lose weight or to go to church more or to pay off debt.



When you're a city administrator at a time when a struggling national economy is rearing its head around every corner, your goals are a bit more complex.

For many people, the start of a new year means resolving to lose weight or to go to church more or to pay off debt.

When you're a city administrator at a time when a struggling national economy is rearing its head around every corner, your goals are a bit more complex.

"People often want to know what our goal is for the new year," John Van Gorden, Pittsburg interim city manager, said. "I say, 'survival.'"

The national economy, which shows few signs of improving anytime soon, has Van Gorden and other local city officials nervous about what 2009 could bring. Whether it's sales tax revenue, the housing market or unemployment numbers, city administrators said they would keep a watchful eye on how the national economic issues affect the local area.

"The economy right now is our major concern," Van Gorden said.

The closing of Superior Industries earlier this month is a cause for concern when it comes to the local economy, Van Gorden said. The annual economic impact of Superior on Pittsburg was estimated at $110 million. The loss of those 600 jobs, along with other local employment reductions, could play a major factor in local sales tax revenue in 2009.

"We, like everyone else, are concerned about what the year brings as far as revenue projections," he said. "Our concern is what the sales tax is going to be like after the first of the year. We have a lot of revenue that comes in on sales tax. Are people still going to go out and purchase stuff? And what about property tax? Are there going to be delinquent property tax?"

Van Gorden said the city already is battling a decrease in water and sewer revenue, a decline that is expected to continue as a result of Superior's closing.

"Superior was, I believe, a major user of water," Van Gorden said. "Them closing will probably have even more impact on our water revenue."

Van Gorden said retaining the city's 210 employees is a main goal for 2009, a goal that will require spending cuts in other areas to accomplish.

"We're going to try to get by with less and see how the economy works itself out," he said.

Dan Brunetti, Frontenac city administrator, said the city has "played it safe" for the past couple years as signs of an economic downturn became apparent. He said while Frontenac has not experienced the hard times many American cities are facing these days, he added that it's not inevitable that the city will remain in the clear.

"I've kept a close eye on the economy, because eventually it will affect us," he said. "It has affected us somewhat, but not to the degree I think it will in 2009."

Brunetti said he's hopeful the election of President-elect Barack Obama will mean a change in the country's economic fortunes.

"I'm hoping that with the change in administration, some of these problems are remedied," he said.

Despite their economic concerns, area cities are looking toward 2009 as a time to start and finish various projects.

Van Gorden said Pittsburg's priorities for the new year are finishing construction on the new police and fire stations. He said he would like to have the work completed and employees moved in by the end the March. He also said making major progress on Phase 2 of the streetscape project is a priority for the new year. Various other projects also are on the city's to-do list for 2009, although the list is significantly shorter than when Van Gorden took over for Allen Gill earlier this year.

"There were so many projects going on when I took over," he said. "It looked like a war zone everywhere. Now it's finally calming down and getting finished. It's helped me sleep a little easier."

In Frontenac, Brunetti said main priorities for the new year are finishing the remodeling and renovations project on the new City Hall building and getting started on the water line and water plant renovations.

Brunetti said last week that work on the new City Hall is 99 percent complete and he hopes to add the lacking one percent by Feb. 1. The project marks the second half of a two-phase renovation that moved the Frontenac Police Department into the city's Public Safety Center, an expansion to the existing Frontenac Fire Station. That move was completed in October, freeing up workers for the city hall portion of the project.

In May, Frontenac received $375,525 through a Community Development Block Grant to replace outdated cast-iron and asbestos cement in water lines. Brunetti said he hopes to see the project start by March 1.

Various projects also pack the to-do list in Arma for 2009. City Administrator Tim Schook said the city's main priority is to begin development of the 33 acres of land the city recently purchased. The land, located on the northwest corner of U.S. 69 and E. 640th Street, is to be used for residential use.

"One (New Year's) resolution that I'll have is to push forward on this land development so we can see some growth within the community," Schook said.

Other priorities include deciding on a health insurance plan for city employees and reaching an agreement in the city's contract dispute with Westar Energy.