Roadmap to success: Commissioner Fridrich argues fiscal conservatism and oversight for city's 2022 budget
"Dickinson's elected leaders address priorities" A series of interviews highlighting city officials, commissioners and the Mayor on priorities for Dickinson as we enter the third and fourth quarters. What's on the radar? What are they concerned about? What do they plan to propose in the final quarters? What are their constituents asking them? Etc. This third part will focus on responses from City Commissioner Jason Fridrich.
Since November 2016, Jason Fridrich has been serving the City of Dickinson as commissioner. As also the owner and founder of Legend Homes Inc., Fridrich brings a different perspective to the commission that allows him to vote on motions and thoroughly overlook budgets from the perspective of a business owner.
Though Fridrich believes the City of Dickinson is moving in the right direction, there is always room for improvement.
“Infrastructure in Dickinson has always been a challenge. We did do a lot of great stuff during the oil boom when we expected a huge population growth. So I think our water system is in excellent hands with Southwest Water (Authority). Our Waste Water Treatment Plant is state of the art, so we’re set up there for many years ahead in that area. We did get a chance to update a lot of our sewer systems, pump stations and stuff like that during that time. So that’s all very good,” he said. “I would like to see us do a little bit more with our roads, and as (part of the) commission, the last couple of years we've dedicated more budget to fixing roads and mill and overlay projects to get our roads in a little bit better condition. So we're moving in the right way; everything takes a lot of money and it’s going to take a little more time to get us exactly where we want to be. But I think we're heading in the right direction.”
The commission will begin looking at next year’s budget on June 30.
“We are just about to start our 2022 budget session, so we scrutinize that budget very thoroughly. We take the money that the citizens give us in taxes and we make sure that we try to do our best to spend it wisely and not be wasteful,” he said. “We are looking at a lot of quality of life projects, (such as) the Downtown Square project. We’re researching the possibility of an event center at some point down the road… So the money that we're given and are entrusted with, we're making sure that we're spending it on things that the people want and we hear about and... make better quality life for everybody that's here.”
Fridich also noted, “I would like to see us do something with the COVID money that we were given from the federal government that would help maybe reduce some taxes. Maybe use that money to take some of the burden off of some of these street improvement projects. Maybe even look at reducing some of our fees for building a house let's say or you’re getting a permit for this or that — maybe we can, over the next year or two, look at using some of that money to reduce those fees to help the people. (And) not just always charge a lot of money for the services the city provides (and) try to take that burden off of them a little bit, and maybe even try to reduce the property tax burden.”
In terms of crime in the Dickinson area, Fridrich noted that though the city has some issues with drugs and domestic violence, police services do a good job of keeping “crime in check.” Moving into next year’s budget, Fridrich said that the commission is looking at adding a few more officers to the Dickinson Police Department, as part of the reorganization motion introduced by Police Chief Dustin Dassinger.
“This is a super place to live for families. I think it's safe. We've got like I said, a fairly low violent crime rate when you compare it to even some of the largest cities in the state,” Fridrich said. “... People that come here see that it’s a great small town and that we've got a great community and the community gets involved. If they see something that's out of line or out of control, they're not afraid to stand up and let people know about it so it can get taken care of.”
With three school resource officers, the Dickinson Police Department is making strides to identify issues at an early age before those problems escalate later on in life with those individuals, Fridrich said, adding that the city’s police force is always making efforts to connect with the public via its podcast or special events that they host throughout the year.
In the fourth part of this five-part series, we will feature remarks from City Administrator Brian Winningham.