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 Tuesday, Sept 2, the 245th day of 2014. There are 120 days left in the year.
1864 — 150 years ago: It is estimated that 300,000 people attended the recent Democratic convention in Chicago when Gen. George B. McClellan of New Jersey was nominated as a candidate for president of the United States. 1889 — 125 years ago: Alderman Frank Ill, Winslow Howard and Captain J.M. Montgomery returned from Milwaukee, where they attended the national Grand Army of the Republic encampment. 1914 — 100 years ago: Three members of the Rock Island YMCA accepted positions as physical directors of other associations. Albert Cook went to Kewanee, C.D. Curtis to Canton and Willis Woods to Leavenworth, Kan. 1939 — 75 years ago: Former President Herbert Hoover appealed for national support of President F.D. Roosevelt and Congress in every effort to keep the United States out of war. 1964 — 50 years ago: The Rock Island Junior chamber pf Commerce has received answers to about 65 % of the 600 questionnaires mailed out recently in a "Community Attitude Survey" to analyze sentiments of citizens towards their city's various recreational, educational, and civic service programs. 1989 — 25 years ago: The two thunderstorms passing through the Quad Cities last night and early today left some area residents reaching for their flashlights.