(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) The State of the City address highlighted 2019 capital investments, initiatives to tackle blight, and what 2020 holds for the City of St. Joseph.
Mayor Bill McMurray delivered his State of the City address digitally at Stoney Creek Hotel on Friday. It’s not the Mayor's first address but it was the first time he could not deliver it himself.
The city official said he was sick with the flu so while he addressed his health, his staff briefed a room full of people on the city's health.
The annual speech keeps citizens up-to-date on what’s happening in St. Joseph.
City spokesperson, Mary Robertson, said city staff had decided on a new digital format for the State of the City address before the Mayor came down with the flu. Fortunately, that new format was a pre-taped highlight reel with the Mayor, Robertson said.
This year’s address discussed the growth the city saw in 2019, as well as the goals Mayor McMurray has set for 2020.
A few of the bigger points mentioned in the pre-taped highlight reel was a total of $106 million in new capital investments made by Lifeline Foods, Boehringer Ingelheim, and many other businesses, and new committees and commissions set up to tackle homelessness and blight.
City Manager Bruce Woody said people have expressed concern that crime is on the rise in St. Joseph. He said to address those concerns the City is working with law enforcement to get information out to the community.
During the Mayor's address, he said index crimes dropped by 8.5%, aggravated assault was down 24.6%, burglaries fell 18.5% and robberies dropped by 14.2%. City officials said one area of crime that needs more focus, the rising number of motor vehicle thefts.
Another major point discussed at the State of the City was the several projects geared towards helping the homeless find permanent residence and jobs in the city. Recently the Urban Mission Project, spearheaded by Mosaic Life Care and St. Joseph's Health Department to help break the cycle of homelessness, said 40 people had been successfully transitioned from shelters to permanent housing.
The State of the City speech also highlighted how officials were tackling vacant properties, blight, and the revitalization of historic neighborhoods. Clint Thompson, who heads up the Community Development division of the city, said this year the City was able to dedicate funds to demolition and redevelopment of blighted areas.
He also said the new rental property inspection program has helped the city get its arms around vacant and neglected properties. Thompson said this information helps the city increase code enforcement and compliance.
McMurray mentioned at least six other city initiatives:
- The plan for the I-229 Double Decker Bridge in partnership with MoDOT.
- The Blacksnake Creek Project.
- The restoration and revitalization of six pocket parks in city neighborhoods.
- Relocation of Fire Station 8 to better serve the Eastside in partnership with MWSU.
- A ribbon-cutting was held at the new home for the St. Joseph Animal Shelter in August.
- The Riverfront Development Project plan and implementation.
Mayor McMurray also mentioned two issues coming up on the ballot this year. He said the city needs voter support for a bond measure that would provide $20 million dollars to repair city bridges in poor conditions and changes to the city charter.
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