Mayor Rod Woodbury spoke of a city that continues to flourish at the annual State of the City address Jan. 19, but he admitted that Boulder City has a long way to go before it reaches new heights.
His speech was straightforward as he went through each aspect of his Mayor’s Vision and how well the city has done implementing his ideas.
His vision is a five-point plan for maintaining a successful city. Those five points are “family and faith first, be business-friendly, crystal-clear communication, keeping our financial house in order and picking up the pace.”
Woodbury addressed his first point, faith and family, with concern, stating that younger families are struggling to find affordable housing in Boulder City, and the city’s schools are suffering because of an aging population.
“I am noticing an alarming trend,” he said. “Our school enrollment has dropped by 300 since 2005, even though our population is 4 percent higher than in the past.”
Woodbury continued, saying that a high cost of living was pushing younger families out of town.
“Young families are not living here, and they will not pay $100,000 more for a starter home when they can buy a home in Henderson for cheaper.”
The mayor took a more positive approach addressing business in town.
He said that last year he urged the city staff to treat businesses like partners by allowing business to be conducted without unnecessary regulations.
“Last year I urged us to get rid of the us vs. them mentality,” Woodbury said. “To do everything in our power by avoiding unwieldy conditions, legal roadblocks and code provisions. … I asked us to replace the words no and can’t with yes and can.”
He said the city has made huge strides in becoming more business-friendly.
“I am pleased to say that a paradigm shift is beginning to take place on a citywide basis, particularly in Community Development Department’s building, planning and code enforcement divisions,” Woodbury said. “We are certainly not perfect, but we are getting better.”
Business owners seem to agree, according to Boulder City Chamber of Commerce CEO Jill Rowland-Lagan.
“We have seen swift improvements in terms of better communication and addressing businesses concerns, and I feel like we have to thank Mark Palm for that,” Rowland-Lagan said, referring to the city’s building and safety inspector. “Business owners are dealing with a lot of problems they are confronted with every day, and when you have a responsive City Hall like we do now, it helps.”
Woodbury praised the city’s ability to manage its debt and stated that while there is work to do the financial house is in order.
“I am happy to report, once again, that in 2016 we made significant progress toward our financial goals,” Woodbury said. “In June we paid off the final $3.5 million balance of our third straw debt to the Southern Nevada Water Authority.”
He also praised the voters who passed Boulder City Question 1 in November, which allows the city to use capital improvement funds to accelerate debt payments for its last remaining $27 million raw-water-line debt.
“We now have the power to follow our financial plan recommendations to increase annual debt payments by next fiscal year,” Woodbury said. “We will pay off our debt seven to eight years early, saving $3.5 million in interest — making Boulder City debt free.”
Woodbury added a caveat stating that the city would use capital improvement money only if funds are available.
Fritz McDonald, who is running for a City Council seat, said that the mayor’s focus on financial sustainability was a part of the speech that really stuck with him.
“The mayor’s comments on financial sustainability were something I could really agree with,” McDonald said. “We have to be thinking 20 years down the road when it comes to our finances, and I believe the mayor is doing the right thing by working to get rid of our city’s debt.”
The mayor also said that the improvements to the city had come in a timely manner that works with his final vision of picking up the pace.
Attendees of the State of the City address were in good spirits, with many of them supporting the direction of the city and mayor.
Former Mayor Eric Lundgaard said the mayor’s speech was well-received.
“I think Rodney is an excellent speaker who made an excellent speech,” Lundgaard said. “The city needs hope right now, and I thought the mayor was very hopeful.”
Municipal Court Judge Victor Miller said he is confident in the mayor’s vision and impressed with the accomplishments of mayor and council.
“I thought his speech was a nice overview of all the city has accomplished over the last year,” Miller said. “As a citizen of this community I see the way things are going, and it is going well.”
Some of the notable accomplishments addressed were the hiring of new Police Chief Timothy Shea, an agreement with Aerodrome to build the world’s first drone-only airport and the city’s designation as a tree city for the 20th time.
A tree city is a designation given to cities by the Arbor Day Foundation for properly maintaining, growing and creating ordinances to protect trees in the community.
Boulder City resident Ed Waymire said that the mayor’s speech solidified the reason he voted for Woodbury and the current council.
“It was an amazing speech,” Waymire said. “I think this is the best mayor and council we have had in years, and that speech reminded me that we are going in the right direction.”
Contact reporter Max Lancaster at mlancaster @bouldercityreview.com or at 702-586-9401. Follow him on Twitter @MLancasterBCR.