It has been a privilege and an honor to serve my hometown as Mayor over the past four years. As I leave my post, my heart is filled with love and gratitude for a community that has supported my family, not only through my role as Mayor, but also as small businesses owners — and in our most humbling experience, becoming new parents. We are so grateful that our future will remain here in Milford as our family continues to grow and we seek new endeavors to help improve our community.
During my time as Mayor, we have realized big opportunities to enhance the quality of life, and we took on large challenges to better the future of our community. The new Bayhealth Sussex Campus and Nemours Pediatric hospital set the course for an increase in specialized healthcare in Sussex County. These projects provide our region with better access to local, quality healthcare specialists and valuable workforce development in the growing healthcare industry.
As we continue to grow as a community, we must take a proactive approach to planning and continual investment in our community. The redevelopment of the current Bayhealth hospital by Nationwide Health Services provides a map for redevelopment efforts. Through this and other similar projects, we can reimagine how our underdeveloped commercial properties can be reborn to serve the community. Currently serving around 250 developed commercial acres, the City of Milford has the capacity to utilize an additional 280 plus undeveloped commercial acres that include infrastructure and public services. We sit ready to help any and all expanding and new businesses to invest in Milford.
The City of Milford has been recognized across the state of Delaware for its growing economy and investment in economic development partnerships. Over the last four years the City and its state and federal partners have met large infrastructure challenges — including Airport Road, the Route 1 & 14 overpass and the 113 railroad crossing. As we encourage more private investment, we must continue to rehabilitate our city-owned roads and gateways, as well as clean up our neighborhoods. The City has worked diligently to provide a path forward through a 5-year Infrastructure Rehabilitation Plan and the creation of a program to enforce rental and homeowner code enforcement, an area that has been neglected for years. It is imperative to the health of our economy that residents make sure these initiatives continue forward.
Just like any successful business, fiscal responsibility is a cornerstone for a healthy future. Balancing four budgets, lowering electric rates and committing to affordable and superior City services has not always been easy, but it is necessary to ensure a stable future. In May 2017, the City changed its Charter to update an outdated tax delinquency process that left $358,000 on the table in past unpaid taxes. Since implementing the new process we have collected over $200,000 in under one year. Efforts to reevaluate our fiscal policy and procedures will continue to be necessary to protect the investments made by residents and businesses.
I cannot say enough about the hard work and daily sacrifices made by the Milford Police Department to protect and serve our community. Through the leadership of Chief Kenneth Brown, our men and women have undertaken the massive responsibility of dealing with the opioid epidemic and the violence and crime associated with it. For the safety of our families and our community, we need to continue to invest in the future. The Milford Police Department is in need of additional officers as well as a new police station to meet the growing demand on local law enforcement. As a community, we must also make efforts to support our local Carlisle Fire Company and the first responders from surrounding communities that support their efforts. A volunteer force, Carlisle commits to serve our community through state and private funding, and their service is invaluable to the Milford community. Should the City of Milford have to provide these essential, emergency services, taxpayers would be overwhelmed in financial debt. A safer community will create a better quality of life for generations to come and provide a catalyst for a stronger economy.
My most cherished memories of my time in office will be the moments our community came together as one. Sometimes that fellowship came in times of great loss, as we suffered the death of a community member, and sometimes it came as a celebration of great achievement. Every one of those experiences warmed my heart, refreshed my faith in community and gave me confidence to lead. We must remember that the people of Milford is its greatest strength, and when we come together as a community, we achieve great things.
It has been an honor to represent my hometown as Mayor and I hope that new leadership understands the gravity of their role in Milford’s future. As I pursue the opportunity to serve our community in a new role as State Representative, I commit to work alongside our new Mayor and Council to ensure that our city continues to focus on economic development, clean and healthy neighborhoods, fiscal responsibility and investment in our first responders. My family looks forward to continuing our future in Milford and helping our community enhance the quality of life for generations to come.