Reflecting on Mayor Bill Dieruf’s Three Terms
Writer / Beth Wilder
In January of 2011, Bill Dieruf was sworn in as mayor for what would be the first of three elected terms in office. The ensuing 12 years would see Jeffersontown become an even greater city than local residents could ever imagine, which says a lot for a town that has always been at the forefront regarding business and community.
Having grown up as a part of Jeffersontown’s oldest family-owned and -operated business – Dieruf Hardware, which opened its doors in 1946 and is still going strong – Dieruf was highly aware of the importance of good management and personal, small-town customer care. He determined to run Jeffersontown in the same manner, with financial skill and that same type of strong customer service, while also bringing a sense of professionalism and accountability to City Hall.
One of the first steps Dieruf took was to gain the trust of his department heads and make them understand that they would get whatever their departments needed, but just because money was available in their yearly budgets, that did not mean they were free to spend it all. He came up with a system of improvement projects that determined what was most needed throughout the city, so that funds would be directed to those projects first. ndThrough the course of his 12-year tenure (three four-year terms), Dieruf assumed the responsibility to make sure that every department in Jeffersontown received exactly what it needed, from small computer upgrades to complete building renovations. Through fairness in meeting each department’s needs, Dieruf instilled pride and loyalty in his team.
Another issue that took precedence for Dieruf was the need to get Jeffersontown into the 21st century regarding technology. To accomplish this, he was very proactive in hiring Technology Plus to do a complete network evaluation as soon as he took office, and ordered a consistent infrastructure for each city building, all connected to one another.
Dieruf wanted everything configured for growth and manageability, and throughout his time in office he made sure that every department in the city had the most up-to-date technology, from computers to the most advanced software, monitors, projector screens, phone systems, digital program signs and security systems. The list of technological upgrades made in Jeffersontown throughout the past 12 years is astounding, and new equipment is added continuously to keep the town progressing and running efficiently.
On a related note, Dieruf also had a website created so residents could easily access Jeffersontown from the comfort of their own homes. CivicPlus, a cloud-based content management system, was chosen to develop the city website, and they continuously provide upgrades to make sure that residents are afforded the greatest ease and transparency when conducting city business online. The website contains information regarding every city department including police, fire and public works, as well as upcoming events and links to social media.
Dieruf holds a firm belief that residents of Jeffersontown deserve the best of the best. Consequently, he hires only the best of the best, and wants both employees and residents to feel that everybody’s family – and indeed, Jeffersontown is known for its family feel. Throughout his tenure Dieruf has remained approachable and supportive, listening to his employees, trusting them and allowing them to do their jobs. As Damon Sistrunk, head of Jeffersontown’s Revenue Department, states, “Mayor Dieruf makes good suggestions, knows what he is doing and is always a step or two ahead of you. I just trust that he’s got a plan. He’s always prepared, calm and personable.” Those qualities are evident in all of Dieruf’s interactions. He is a very thoughtful, savvy individual, capable of assessing a situation very quickly and immediately providing the perfect solution to any problem.
Shortly after Dieruf took office, a tornado hit Jeffersontown, leaving a lot of damage in its wake – trees fallen on cars and houses, wires down and blocked, and flooding all over town. Dieruf and Public Works Director Jimmy Franconia both delayed their scheduled vacations and immediately set to work clearing up the mess. When news reporters arrived three days later to film the devastation, they had to ask where the tornado hit, as they could not find the damage. This brought a huge smile to Dieruf’s face, knowing that city workers did their best to get the town back to normal.
When Dieruf stepped into his role as mayor, Jeffersontown was $17 million in debt. Thanks to his decision to refinance the debt and reduce the payoff date by 10 years, the city saved over $1 million in interest and even paid off the debt one year early, in February of 2021. In fact, the city currently has $25 million in the bank with $17.4 million appropriated for upcoming capital projects.
In addition to his excellent money management skills, Dieruf is also very pro-business. Under his leadership, Jeffersontown business grew 58% and the city received the best Insurance Services Office rating ever, which translated into lower insurance rates for every resident and business in Jeffersontown. He has taken leading roles on numerous boards and committees including the Kentucky League of Cities, the Kentuckiana Regional Planning & Development Agency, Campbellsville University, Greater Louisville Inc., and the Kentucky Law Enforcement Council, to name just a few.
Speaking of law enforcement, the Jeffersontown Police Department grew 10% under Dieruf’s tenure, and has also added social workers and victim advocates to facilitate their efforts at crime prevention and community policing. Jeffersontown Police Chief Richard Sanders credits the department’s excellent reputation to the pride and professionalism Dieruf has brought to the town, as well as support from the mayor, City Council and community.
A community makes a town, and Dieruf has worked assiduously to see to it that Jeffersontown provides the best of everything a town has to offer. In addition to the general ongoing maintenance of the city and its amenities – such as the Plainview Swim and Tennis Center, Senior Citizens Center, Community Center, Historical Museum, Farmers Market and more – the city has also secured more than $38 million in grants for various projects that have further enhanced the town, including streetscapes and a network of sidewalks and off-road paths that provide a more livable and workable community.
A new facility was recently constructed for the Public Works Department, and an up-to-date Jeffersontown Police Department headquarters is also in the works, as well as a 9/11 First Responders Remembrance Plaza, which will stand next to the newly remodeled Fire Department. An exquisite Memorial Plaza and Freedom Wall were created in Veterans Memorial Park, along with an all-inclusive playground. Soon, a performance amphitheater and Grand Lawn will be constructed nearby, continuing the effort to connect the public to the water’s edge of Jeffersontown’s beautiful Chenoweth Run stream.
Jeffersontown is nearing the end of Dieruf’s time as mayor. It went by fast to be sure, but the legacy he leaves will last much longer.