State of the City Address
Mayor Les Smith
April 12, 2004
I would like to begin by thanking
you for this opportunity to present the first ever State of the City Address,
an address that I hope will become an ongoing tradition in our community. It’s
exciting to be able to share with you the many great things that are happening
in the City of
Since 2001, public service has received a lot of focus nationally, and public servants have received some long overdue recognition. Both the Northland Regional Chamber of Commerce and the Gladstone Area Chamber of Commerce recognized our employees this past year, with our employees even being named honorary parade marshals for the 24th Annual Gladfest parade.
Although I wish we could introduce every single person who works for the City, please allow me to introduce to you the members of our leadership team and ask that they take our recognition back to all of those in their respective departments:
Kirk Davis, City Manager
Scott Wingerson, Assistant City Manager
Dave Ramsay, City Counselor
Bill Adamo, Public Safety Director
Cash Sweiven, Finance Director
Andy Noll, Director of Public Works
Sheila Lillis, Parks & Recreation Director
Charlene Leslie, Human Resources Administrator
Cathy Swenson, City Clerk
Diane Whitaker, Executive Administrative Assistant
And although they might not be here this evening, I would like to recognize the City’s most recent “Employees of the Year” -- Stan Dobbins, Madelaine Cockrum, and Danny Shinneman.
Please join me in thanking these and all our city employees for the exceptional work they do.
The past twelve months have
provided the City of
Shortly after this council was seated, we were faced with balancing a budget that reflected revenues equal to 1999 levels and expenditures that grew by inflationary factors. The City was challenged with balancing the budget without cutting essential city services and with continuing to fund planned capital improvements. I’m proud to announce that through a total team effort we have accomplished all of these despite the fact that some revenues have been on a steady decline since mid-2001. We cut positions through attrition, consolidated other positions and responsibilities, and kept a close eye on budgeted expenditures in the General Fund.
Just as we were in the process of
balancing the budget, a devastating series of tornadoes blew through the
metropolitan area, causing damage in
Emergency management experts nationwide heralded the City’s response; we have received many letters of appreciation, and have received various commendations from around the country. Today, nearly one year later, although the afflicted areas appear to be returning to normal, many residents of our community are still rebuilding.
July marked the dedication of our
new amphitheater, which was rebuilt after the arson fire that destroyed it in
2002. Through the efforts of people from around the entire metropolitan area,
the facility was rebuilt even bigger and better, and will provide us with more
cultural and entertainment opportunities in the future. Not only does this
regional amphitheater host the largest Blues festival in the
With the many wind and ice storms of the past few years, we have been very cognizant of the tree damage our community has sustained. We began the process of repairing, replanting, and trimming trees on city property throughout our community because we recognize their importance to our environment, the aesthetics of our community, and the quality of life we enjoy. This effort resulted in our community being designated a Tree City USA for a second straight year, and last September we received a $10,000 T.R.I.M. II grant from the Missouri Department of Conservation to evaluate trees and identify planting areas in our public spaces.
The City, like every other
institution in this country, has had to retrench fiscally since 2001. In 2000,
the City began to focus more intently on economic development and implemented
several economic development initiatives. One of those initiatives concerned
the revitalization of the North Oak corridor, and more specifically the
As the word spread that
For many years the City has discussed the need and desire for a downtown area. The North Oak Corridor Study identified this potential district as a vehicle that might encourage reinvestment elsewhere along the corridor. The City enlisted the services of Hugh Zimmer and Associates to complete an economic feasibility study for a mixed use, high density, commercial development near 70th and N. Oak. I’m excited to announce that the City has begun the process of acquiring properties that will encourage such an investment. This is the type of economic initiative the city needs to overcome a stagnant economy and encourage growth. This is the type of activity that encourages economic growth, which provides services and products needed by our citizens. It also provides for a very low cost of living in our community.
Another long-term economic development goal was reached this past year with the creation of the City’s first Community Development Corporation. This organization is designed to provide low interest loans to businesses for façade and building renovations, modern signage, landscaping, and other site plan improvements.
During difficult economic times, just like our local businesses, we must make internal changes that will help the organization remain competitive and continue to provide services. Several internal management steps, or structures, have been altered or initiated this past year. These are not issues the public will have heard about, or even been very interested in, but they do help the organization change and provide a foundation for the provision of public services. Programs such as Positive Performance Management, a new Wellness Program, GASB 34, Civicall, Fire Staffing analysis, Performance Evaluation Systems, NPDES, and other internal programs and studies were completed this past year. Many new ordinances were enacted to enhance our community, and the City reacted to such issues as Concealed Carry and a possible change in the provision of our emergency medical service.
The City continues to focus on
capital improvement planning and the implementation of recently developed
capital spending plans and bond issues. As promised to the voters, almost $2.5
Million in sanitary sewer repairs have been made in the past three years. And
as mentioned earlier, our new fire station on North Oak will be a tremendous
public safety asset for the citizens of our city. Other bond projects have
resulted in the just completed addition to City Hall that will provide much
needed storage and meeting space. The 2002 Certificates of Participation
promised the city hall project, the expansion of
The City issued approximately $6
Million in storm water bonds in 2000. These funds were provided for
construction of the top four priority projects from the Stormwater Master Plan,
which have been completed or are nearing completion at this time. The
With the completion of these projects, all of the projects promised with the aforementioned bonds will be completed, and 19 of the top 20 stormwater projects in the Master Plan will have been funded or constructed. All told, the City has managed to have under construction nearly $15 Million worth of capital projects this past year.
As areas north of
For the first time in 15 years we
are also staring the question of our ambulance service squarely in the eyes.
The Special Road District has been a tremendous partner for the City in making road improvements and subsequently this Council feels we must assist in making sure the Road District funds are not cut by Clay County and that they are distributed appropriately. A sampling of road projects being designed or constructed are Main Street from 61st Terrace to 64th Street, North Woodland north of 76th Street, 64th and Antioch by St. Andrews Church, the Pleasant Valley Road realignment, and the design of North Holmes from 70th Street to 72nd Street. Last year we spent roughly $1 Million on overlay, slurry seal, and reconstruction projects alone.
The Water System will continue to
see the City focus on the replacement of 2-inch lines throughout the city, the
replacement of the water line adjacent to North Oak, and the upgrading of
antiquated water meters that allow for “free” water. We will also continue to
monitor and work to eliminate storm water infiltration of the sanitary sewer
system, which will help control the sanitary sewer charges assessed to
The tornado of 2003 made all of us
realize how important, and what a valuable tool, regionalism is for our
community. We are privileged to be a part of the
Not only are we involved in regional issues, but several staff members and council members are involved in their professional and national associations. I commend each of these individuals for taking leadership roles in their professions, and with the Missouri Municipal League, City Managers Association, and National League of Cities.
Finally, I would like to recognize
the many citizens who are serving as advisors and commissioners for the city.
These people donate countless hours serving our community and are invaluable
advisors to the Council. In addition to the boards and commissions, a citizen-
based strategic planning effort commenced this past year. In placing
recommendations for our future in the hands of our residents and business
It has been said, “Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored.” We have challenges at City Hall, but we have addressed them head-on and we will continue to address them head-on. But we also have a wealth of opportunity and it’s exciting to think about the potential of our community. We are on the cusp of making things happen that we’ve been talking about around here for 25 years or more, and we have the people in place to make those things happen, many of whom are in this room tonight.
It is truly my honor and privilege
to work with a team of such dedicated, professional staff and city council
members - true public servants - as we continue the work of making