Mayor Nancy McFarlane delivered a brief but densely packed State of the City Address at the Rotary Club Monday afternoon.
In her speech, McFarlane discussed the various way the city has been affected by its recent growth.
“Increased growth calls for increased resources — police, fire, 911 responders, city inspectors, development services, trash pickup,” McFarlane said
“Growth is a great thing — it brings jobs and opportunities and we don’t want to be a city that’s dying, but the growth also presents us with challenges.”
McFarlane went on to note that while Raleigh “offers the best services for the lowest costs of almost any city in North Carolina,” this upcoming year will present certain budget challenges.
“The general assembly did away with the business privilege license tax and we lost over $7 million for the upcoming budget.
“It puts us in the dilemma of increasing property taxes or stretching ourselves too thin.”
Preparing For the Future
Aside from these budget woes, McFarlane said the city is well positioned to handle the continued growth.
“We plan,” McFarlane said.
“We all plan together as a community, we know what makes us great. The voters approved the $91.7 million parks bond last year; our parks and greenways are among the best in the nation.
“Raleigh understands we have to invest in ourselves to stay at the top. When we invest in ourselves, others invest in us.”
McFarlane also noted the recent agreement on Dix Park, and a number of planned improvements to the city’s infrastructure, including the Crabtree Interceptor project and the fact that Raleigh will be served by several competing high-speed broadband companies, including AT&T and Google.
“Broadband is the infrastructure of the future — this positions Raleigh at the top of the list for job growth.”
Although she noted several of the benefits of continued growth, McFarlane acknowledged there were some problems as well, such as the increasing number of residents living in poverty.
“We as a city must make sure we do all that we can to make sure that every citizen has every opportunity available to them, no matter who they are or where they live,” McFarlane said.
She also noted the growing need for affordable housing within the city.
“As the city grows more prosperous, we must be mindful of the impacts of that market on affordability.
“Affordability is more than just the price of a housing unit, it’s the ability to have access to jobs, food and health care.”
As the city continues to grow, and adjust to that growth, McFarlane stressed that the best way to move forward was as a community, and made a promise to all those in attendance.
“Whether you were born here or you lived here all your life, you love this city, and the best is yet to come.”
A video of the speech is available on the city’s web site.