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State Of The City 2010
Good evening. To the City Commissioners, Staff, our viewers at home, and the audience here with us tonight, once again, thank you for this opportunity to deliver you the State of the City.
As I reflect upon last year during this time, my words to you included the realization that the economy may not recover any time soon, that we as elected officials must make difficult adjustments, and we must be ready. Little did we know it was worse than originally predicted.
However, given such circumstances, the City Commissioners and the City of Waycross staff have not given up, you have not feared the tough decisions, you have not sacrificed the quality of service or employees, and you have not disappointed the citizens of this city.
Rather, you are approaching the business of this city with more emphasis on efficiency and effectiveness. You are placing careful thought on our future and planning for the “sunny day’s” ahead. Lastly, you are encouraging others to work with us by exhibiting strong commitment and building relationships for what works and what is best for our community as a whole.
Has this been easy? The answer is no. Can we stop now? Absolutely not. We must forge forward continuing to set the example as a responsible government and a viable economical regional leader we have become.
As it was reported by our staff two weeks ago, our financial projections going into the 3rd and 4th quarter is within our set budget even though state revenue numbers are still lagging behind. Getting there was not easy and we were faced with a more than a $325,000 shortfall just in 2009. We were forced not to fill six vacant positions, asked employees to do more with less, and reduced a majority of the budgeted line items as across the board reductions. Retirement and insurance plans increased as did utilities and contracted services.
Your decisions have allowed the city to find its balance mark and today we can assure the City of Waycross we will hold the line for 2010-11.
It is again with great pride that I acknowledge the work of each city department and all city employees. I think you will agree that with all the cutbacks and necessary changes to our operation, our employees have not failed us or you. In fact, their drive and morale continues to be strong.
There were many accomplishments over the course of last year but some of the highlights included the following:
- For the first time in 25 years, the Fire Department was inspected by the Insurance Service (ISO) and maintained a rating of 3 keeping your homeowners insurance costs the same. This took a lot of hard work on everyone’s part.
- The Police Department was inspected for reaccreditation at the Federal level and was successful in earning this prestigious award. This gives you the assurance that our officers are not only protecting you each and every day, they are doing it to a standard that exceeds the norm.
- Community Improvement Department had 8 uninhabitable homes demolished and logged over 450 code violation cases.
- Finance Department revamped the utility bill and increased our communication efforts for our residents. They also presented the first ever Annual Report for the City of Waycross which is now available on our website.
- Engineering Department has completed over $1.4 million dollars worth of projects and has $3.1 million already logged to be done in 2010/11.
- Public Works Department has worked to become more automated and efficient while Human Resources have made it all possible through safety training, awareness and employee morale.
We certainly have a lot going on within the City of Waycross and it could not be done without a TEAM effort. This is the catalyst for making things happen such as new industry prospects and new businesses wanting to come to our area. This team ensures the protection of our resources such as water and ways to enhance the environment. They take pride in how our city looks and how clean it is. They make sure all residents are included that all districts are seeing paving improvements and infrastructure repairs are completed. This team is focused on helping our customers and gaining new ones
As I close tonight, I think it is agreed that we are looking forward to a recovery. As this happens, we must commit to one another and to this community that we will go to great lengths to add economic development and jobs to our community. We must focus on the planning process and turn problems into opportunities. Lastly and most importantly, stand firm as leaders and seek whatever is best for the City of Waycross, Ware County and our region. It really is up to us.
Opportunity is in every direction. Thank you and God Bless the City of Waycross.