GREEN: Mayor Gerard Neugebauer told nearly 350 people who braved bone-chilling temperatures to attend his State of the City speech Thursday evening that Green and its residents are “thriving together.”
In a nearly one-hour presentation at Raintree Golf and Event Center — a property now owned by the city — Neugebauer said "this past year we have been met with many challenges, but also many blessings as we continue to grow, prosper and thrive as a community.”
He started by giving a chronology of Green's dealings with Nexus Pipeline officials, saying "I'm proud of what our city did in the three-year battle" and that he wanted the people to understand all the major events — good and bad — that occurred during that period.
He said the city achieved more than any other community in its dealings with Nexus, noting the $7.5 million settlement it received and land adjacent to Southgate Park as well as other concessions designed to assure residents' safety.
Some residents and council members, however, opposed the deal.
The mayor also emphasized that maintaining fiscal responsibility is a “core value” for Green. “My administration has promoted fiscal responsibility by adhering to three principles: reduce debt, control spending and maintain our $20 million general fund balance, representing a six-month operating reserve."
While Neugebauer saluted his predecessors as “very fiscally responsible” during their years in office — resulting in a strong general fund balance and top credit ratings for its bonds — he pointed out that the city had more than $60 million in debt when he took office in 2016.
“I am pleased to report that three years later, we have paid down more than $13.5 million in debt and are scheduled to pay down another $2.5 million in 2019. That’s a $16 million reduction in debt in just four years," he said, adding that the city’s total revenue last year was $46.7 million.
He said the change in revenue had gone from -1 percent in 2015 to nearly 33 percent last year.
Neugebauer said the city is continuously improving infrastructure, citing construction of several new roundabouts and road resurfacing projects planned throughout the city this year.
“One comment I hear frequently is that Green is growing like crazy," he said. "And while we have grown, the pace has been very consistent and sustainable.”
He said the population of Green, which incorporated as a city in 1992 and today has just over 26,000 residents, has not grown significantly in the past 10 years.
“We have seen more growth in our industry and businesses, which has helped us grow income tax revenues and provided us the capital to make infrastructure improvements, enhance safety services, build parks and offer more amenities for our residents while balancing the high-quality residential nature of our city.”
After praising the city’s employees, organizations, new programs and collaborations with the Green Local Schools and giving families and businesses, Neugebauer concluded:
“Our financial policies and performance continue to be strong, allowing us to improve infrastructure, expand safety programs and services, add new parkland and green space, plan new amenities for our community, plan for future roads and trails that connect us, and develop opportunities for individuals to connect in meaningful ways.
“It is all of these things that keep us, as a community, thriving together.”
George W. Davis can be reached at: email@example.com