Weiers celebrates successes in State of City address
by Glendale Chamber of Commerce on March 3rd, 2016

By: Bill Toops, The Glendale Star

Delivering his fourth State of the City address as the keynote speaker for the Glendale Chamber of Commerce’s 65th annual signature event Feb. 26 at the Renaissance Hotel & Spa, Mayor Jerry Weiers told more than 500 local business and community leaders that Glendale has made a positive course correction, that the city is on the right path, and the future is very bright. Using an original photo he took of a recent Glendale daybreak as a visual illustration, Weiers described the state of the city as not just a new dawn, but a renewed spirit.

“Making the right decisions is not always easy, but when you begin to see the positive results of difficult decisions, it reaffirms your belief that nothing is impossible,” Weiers said. “It strengthens your resolve to work as a team.”

In a thorough and highly detailed, multi-media presentation, Weiers reported on a wide variety of municipal interests including the city’s financial recovery and growing stability, new management and council leadership, public safety status and priorities, and improvements made to community services, as well as glimpses of Glendale’s economic development successes and the enhancement of numerous city services.

Referring to Moody’s recent upgrade of the city’s overall A-2 bond rating, the mayor said a $26 million deficit has been turned into a $48 million surplus. He also said the city has made saving money a priority by enacting a 25 percent reserve policy.

“Our fund balance has grown from a negative $29.5 million in June 2012 to a positive $28.4 million in June 2015,” said Weiers. “That is an increase in our fund balance of almost $58 million over three years.”

The mayor said the city has saved $48 million on debt service costs by refinancing some $361 million in bonds. He further noted the city has implemented a conservative budgeting process that resulted in a $3.4 million surplus.

Weiers said the city will save $3.6 million annually with the amendment of the Gila River Arena management agreement. With regard to that decision, he said the city held to three specific priorities: One, the city put taxpayers first. Two, local businesses were considered a priority. And three, Weiers said, it is the city’s desire to maintain professional hockey in Glendale.

“I want the Coyotes to stay in Glendale and the city wants the Coyotes to remain in Glendale,” the mayor clearly stated. “We have, since day one, invited them to remain engaged in the process.”

“Government’s job is to serve its citizens,” said Weiers. “Ultimately, the key is for all of us to work together for the community as a whole to continue to prosper.”
The mayor said when the city is on sound financial footing, its residents and all of its businesses benefit. He said such stability opens the doors for new investment by building credibility and trust.

“Our city, over time, has invested in building quality of life facilities that also serve as catalysts for economic development,” Weiers said. “Working together, we will continue to make decisions that are not only pro-growth, but also principled which are in the best interest of the taxpayers of Glendale.”

The mayor said the road to making Glendale financially sound has been a principled process and that a number of people have stepped up to help the city climb out of its financial crisis. He specifically acknowledged the contributions of former acting City Manager Richard Bowers and Assistant City Manager Tom Duensing, as well as the recent hires of Fire Chief Terry Garrison and City Manager Kevin Phelps. Weiers also cited the effectiveness of the current city council and gave special recognition to the recent addition of Sahuaro District Councilmember Ray Malnar.  

Turning to public safety, Weiers said safety is fundamental to the success of a community and Glendale’s police officers and firefighters are among the best trained professionals in the county.

“Nowhere are the expectations of our citizens higher than with public safety,” he said. “Rest assured, public safety is a priority and most definitely a point of pride for me, as mayor.”

The city currently operates one of the busiest fire and rescue operations in the state with nine fire stations, 247 sworn, full-time employees responding to nearly 40,000 calls and close to 300 special events annually. The mayor also noted that seven paramedics were added to the department in the past year.

From routine patrols to mega events, the Glendale Police Department maintains a seamless level of service for all citizens.  According to Weiers, they do so with more than 550 officers and civilian staff members who provide citizens protection from city streets to threats of terrorism.

“Cities thrive when neighborhoods are safe and people, young and old, have trust and confidence in their police department,” Weiers said. “The men and women of the Glendale Police Department inspire such confidence and work day and night to keep us safe from harm.”

With the focus of improving the quality of life for its residents, the city’s Community Service Department has been restructured. Its new mission is to connect people through the power of parks, recreation, libraries, arts, and human services, while preserving the health, safety and living environment of the city’s neighborhoods.

The department operates 55 neighborhood parks, four regional parks, Thunderbird Conservation Park, three libraries, an art gallery, summer baseball, an extensive trail system, a variety of senior programs, local health fairs and the Glendale Civic Center. In addition, the city is currently seeking public input for a new western branch library.

“Our quality of life in Glendale is a huge factor when businesses are deciding whether or not to locate here,” said Weiers. “Over the last year, our economic development team has brought in several major businesses, creating over 1,000 new jobs and filling nearly 600,000 square feet of existing property.”

The mayor added 1.9 million square feet of new commercial and industrial construction occurred in the past year alone and that the city has experienced substantial growth and interest in the healthcare industry. He cited the $30 million Simon Med Imaging project at Westgate that will break ground in two weeks as the latest example.

Other local businesses that call Glendale home include Total Transit, the parent company of Discount Cab; Amform, a manufacturing division of U-Haul; and Canyon State Bus, a bus provider to school districts throughout the valley.

From the core service category, Weirs touched briefly on the development of a strategy to move the city’s landfill operations, the implementation a $15 million pavement program to make street and sidewalk improvements, and vowed a city-wide transit system that will effectively serve residents today and in the future.

“We recognize that our city will continue to grow,” said Weiers. “We embrace that and we have to be prepared for it, too. Public-private partnerships play a key role in managing growth.”

The mayor said Glendale remains on the worldwide stage as a sports and entertainment destination and touted the Westgate entertainment district as a first-class venue for residents and visitors alike. He classified the city as an international destination and maintained the local tourism industry remains strong.

“We have made sound decisions and I can promise you, we will stay the course,” Weiers said in conclusion. “We are preparing for a new dawn here and make no mistake, this is cause to celebrate.”

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