Rock Island has come a long way in the past four years I have served as mayor.
We have a great group of elected officials, staff members and community volunteers who work together to move Rock Island forward. We will continue to focus on new development, expansion and redevelopment. We will rebuild Rock Island one block at a time. Let me point out a few accomplishments.
-- Budgets: In fiscal year 2009-2010 the city faced a projected $1 million shortfall. Midyear adjustments were made with no layoffs and no reduction in services.
In 2010-2011 we faced a $2.4 million shortfall. Between city council and staff recommendations, the budget was balanced, again avoiding layoffs. In 2012, facing more cuts, the city hosted public meetings for citizen input. Through these difficult times we fully funded pension obligations, maintained adequate reserves, paid our obligations on time and we still maintain our AA credit rating. Rock Island has had no property tax increase for the past two years.
-- Infrastructure: We continue to aggressively invest in our infrastructure. The council identifies the upgrading of all infrastructure as a high priority. As we replace streets, we check old water pipes and sewer systems to see if they need replacement. A federal mandate requires us to separate our combined sewer system and build a $48 million water treatment facility. We will continue to be aggressive in seeking state and federal funds for these infrastructure upgrades.
Federal and state grants funded resurfacing of 30th street (31st Avenue to Blackhawk Road) and resurfacing of Turkey Hollow Road. Plus, gaming dollars continue to fund infrastructure investment.
-- City facilities: Over the past four years we upgraded several city owned facilities. We completed expansion of the Rock Island Fitness and Activity Center and the Martin Luther King Jr. Center. We completed construction of our new municipal garage, and the water treatment facility will be completed in 2014.
Schwiebert Riverfront Park opened in 2010 and continues to draw thousands from all over the Quad Cities to our downtown area.
-- Safer Communities Task Force: The task force was formed to study ways to make our city safer. We implemented many of their ideas to include cameras in the police squad cars, advanced finger print machine, and firearms simulation machine. We also support a strong rental inspection program to ensure quality housing for all.
Task force members and other citizens were invited to evaluate the Rock Island Police facility and determined a new police facility is needed. Planning and construction is moving forward.
-- Housing & neighborhoods: New construction begins this spring on The Locks on 1st Avenue, bringing 34 market-rate housing units to downtown. The city continues to partner with Renaissance Rock Island on the Neighborhood Stabilization Program with an influx of $14.9 million. With this partnership, 49 abandoned/blighted structures have been demolished, 36 foreclosed/abandoned homes purchased, 23 homes renovated for resale and seven new homes built. These programs will continue our vision to rebuild Rock Island one block at a time.
-- Business development & expansion: The business community is on the move. Expansion continues with Trinity Medical Center, a $63.1 million expansion, Augustana College, a $40 million expansion and Metrolink, a $30 million facility. The Walmart project will bring 400 jobs, $1.4 million in sales tax and spur growth on 11th Street. The Fareway Store will bring 80-100 jobs and increased sales tax. Jumer's Crossing, our vision for mixed used development could generate $2.4-$4 million in sales tax and will include 45 new housing units.
Downtown has also grown with the Shoppes on 2nd bringing in six new retailers
As Rock Island's elected officials, staff members and community volunteers continue to work together, I think the future of Rock Island looks very bright. Dennis E. Pauley is mayor of Rock Island.
Today is Sunday, Dec. 8, the 342nd day of 2013. There are 23 days left in the year. 1863 -- 150 years ago: For the whole of last week we have been favored with the most delightful Indian summer weather, and mercury ranging from 40 to 65 above zero. The river is entirely clear of ice and looks as mild and soft as summer. 1888 -- 125 years ago: Albert Johnson was appointed a deputy in the circuit clerk's office. 1913 -- 100 years ago: 800 or more tons of earth in six landslides covered 38th Street for a distance of 200 feet near 7th Avenue and destroyed much property. 1938 -- 75 years ago: One of the 350-foot towers, which with a new transmitter will increase the power of WHBF to 1,000 watts day and night, has been completed on a 20-acre tract at 23rd Avenue and 51st Street, Moline. 1963 -- 50 years ago: In cooperation with The Associated Press, The Argus presents to its readers a complete, beginning-to-end account of one of the most tragic and dreadful chapters in American history, the assassination of President Kennedy, available in book form, and now in preparation. The book is entitled "The Torch is Passed." 1988 -- 25 years ago: Deere & Co. stockholders received good news of a boost in their quarterly dividends from 20 to 30 cents per share of common stock. The dividend, made to stockholders of record on Dec. 30, will be payable on Feb. 1, 1989.