Mayor’s Monthly Report January 2023
RECAP OF 2022
Our city made considerable progress towards its goals in 2022 with the vision of the City Council and the dedicated hard work of all our staff to meet these goals outlined in our Strategic Action Plan. We continued laying the groundwork for our city’s future by investing in our aging infrastructure, increasing recreational opportunities for quality of life, addressing our housing shortage, and continuing to provide basic services to our residents.
The passing of the 1% city sales tax increase in 2022 will help pave the way to address three key issues keeping the total burden from our city residents. This increase allows for non-city residents and visitors that utilize our resources and services daily to also share in the cost. We will now be able to work towards replacing our 100-year-old plus fire station, enhance our public works department to be able to sustain the many added recreational opportunities that we have committed to and be able to invest in our employees, who are our most valuable assets. Like everyone else, our city is also working through inflationary costs and competing for a workforce to retain. One keynote is that Council voted not to apply this increase to food purchases used for consumption.
LOOKING FORWARD TO 2023
As we look forward to 2023, we will continue to carry forward the momentum created these past couple of years to build a strong economic base for a sustainable future for our city. We will continue building the important relationships and partnerships needed to help fund projects and bring them to fruition. One of our key goals is to leverage this collaboration and advance our city as a key leader in our rural region in Arizona. Here are some of the things we hope to see in 2023.
COMMUNITY AQUATIC CENTER: We look forward to opening the newly renovated Community Center Pool for recreation, competition swimming, and other programs. The project includes a newly lined heated pool with zero clearance entrance, a two-story slide, an adjustable bulkhead for competition swimming, new state-of-the-art entrance with showers and bathrooms, a shaded pavilion for private parties, and a heated splash pad. This project was only made possible by funding from the many partners in the community.
RECREATION: We will be adding more recreational opportunities to the already installed new playground equipment at Veterans Park at City Hall and the Community Center Park. We look forward to the installation of new outside exercise equipment at the Active Adult Center park. We will also see drinking water filling stations installed throughout the downtown historic district. Our distribution of CDBG funds that we receive every three years in the amount of 180K will be used for upgrades at our Veterans Park at City Hall. With this grant, we will be adding more shading, seating, and upgrades to the sidewalks leading to city hall.
CONNIE’S BRIDGE The groundbreaking was held on January 10th to begin the construction of the new Connie’s Bridge. The completion of this project is projected for October 2023. This project also includes the upgrades to South Hill Street down to the bridge and the intersection that lines up with it. This project is a 5.5 million dollar project with 2.8 million coming from the state budget.
HILL STREET PROJECT We look forward to the groundbreaking of this 21-million-dollar project in June of this year to begin the construction. This Gorman Company project provides a 64-unit senior affordable housing facility utilizing the existing Hill Street School building and adding an additional building on the property. This is just one project of many that will address our housing shortage. It will take approximately 18 months to complete construction for an anticipated opening date of the last quarter of 2024.
COMMUNITY CENTER SEWER LINE PROJECT This project is scheduled to be completed this year that will include the installation of sewer line from the Community Center Park down and will connect into the current City sewer line on Jess Hayes Road. This will allow all city facilities to be put on city sewer and get them off septic tanks. The project will also provide the opportunity for additional resident hookups that are in the path of the new line installation. The estimated cost for this project is approximately 1.2 million dollars.
NEW FIRE STATION Our team has completed and submitted the application to USDA for approval of a 13 million loan to build a new Fire Station that will replace our 100-plus-year-old station. This year we anticipate approval of the application to allow us to complete the design and specifications. The property has already been purchased at the old Medical Center building at 703 E. Ash Street. Our city has been awarded federal funding of 55K from the Inflation Reduction Act to begin the abatement at this site. We are waiting for the award from the Rural Area Development Grant to help pay for the design/demolition / and partial build.
MICHAELSON BUILDING PROJECT Our city was awarded 750K from Congress’s direct spending from the USDA Rural Area Development funds. This is an Incubator and Workforce development project located at S. Broad Street and Sycamore Street in partnership with the County. The funding will help move the construction of the project forward this year.
NORTHEAST CORRIDOR SEWER EXPANSION This year we will see the completion of the Preliminary Engineering Report (PER) for the sewer expansion project to the North-East Corridor. Our growth area is limited, with very little private land available. The northeast corridor on Highway 60 going north towards Showlow is our best option for that growth. Our goal is to work with stakeholders to establish partnerships to provide city infrastructure someday to the Fairgrounds area.
HOUSING Our staff will continue their hard work to satisfy one of the major deficiencies in our community, and that is housing. We anticipate announcing a couple of proposed projects this year that will help bring new housing developments so that people not only work here but also have the opportunity to live here.
LOBBYIST AND WASHINGTON TRIP It has been a huge benefit hiring and working with a Lobbyist this past year from Washington DC that is dedicated to seeking out funding opportunities for projects for our city that we may not hear of. We will continue those services this year as we look forward to many more opportunities. Our City Councilmen are looking forward to participating and attending the National League of Cities Conference in Washington DC for the first time in March. Besides the valuable information from the conference, we will also be able to schedule one-on-one meetings to dialogue with our Legislators. Putting a face in front of them on our city’s priorities will have a direct impact as they make decisions that may affect our hometown.
STRATEGIC ACTION PLAN Our annual Strategic Action Planning session is scheduled for February. This session is vital to our city’s future planning vision and goals of our city as we keep our city progressing forward. Our plan includes a one, three, and five-year plan, and beyond while being conscientious about the stability of our finances. Our plan includes assuring a strong fund balance for our city’s future hardships.
FIRST FRIDAYS First Fridays have become a monthly signature event and continue to grow each month with more participation from downtown businesses, vendors, and cruisers. Everyone is invited to participate in the downtown cruise at 5:30 pm. We invite the community to come downtown and support the participating businesses and enjoy live music, food trucks, and vendors. Anyone wishing to set up a vendor booth during any First Friday event may do so at no cost by contacting Linda Oddonetto. Our next First Friday is scheduled for February 3, 2023.
Our Council and staff will continue to refresh our plans, continue to evolve, and keep moving forward not only this coming year but for many years to come. Our vision is to look and plan for years down the road. We are committed to building a strong, vibrant, and sustainable community for future generations.
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