We are Columbia and were just getting started.
Our annual State of the City Address provides us with a unique opportunity to step back and remind ourselves of how much we've accomplished together.
It's an opportunity to take stock of the remarkable progress we've made on issues like Job Creation, Downtown Revitalization, Public Safety, Infrastructure and Environmental Preservation.
It's an opportunity to celebrate a 50% reduction in sewage spills, three straight years of budget surplus, a Downtown ice rink that brought nearly 14,000 people to Main Street and a new Employee Health Center that has not only eliminated co-pays on doctor visits and prescriptions for our city employees and their dependents, but keeps them healthier, happier and more productive while bringing our health care costs under-budget for the first time in recent memory.
But while Wednesday night's speech cheered our 22 new Downtown businesses and our thriving Main Street, it also charted a bold path forward that embraces our vision of Columbia as a truly world class city and the most talented, educated and entrepreneurial in America.
Last night we announced a number of new initiatives to help us transform that vision into reality.
Adopting Business Services Review Task Force proposals to make Columbia more business and customer-friendly.Adopting Business Services Review Task Force proposals to make Columbia more business and customer-friendly.
Transition the Columbia/Richland Animal Shelter to a no-kill shelter within five years.
Collaborating with the Historic Columbia Foundation on a new Landmark Designation and Demolition Delay Ordinance.
Installing neighborhood security cameras.
Launching "Our Story Matters," a year-long celebration of Columbia's rich diversity and African-American history.
Developing a plan to comprehensively address city employee wage disparities and making good on the 2007 Public Safety Retention Plan by giving firefighters the 6.67% raise they're owed.
We can do great things in this city and we will. But not every challenge we face can be met from the Mayor's office.
Not every obstacle before us can be overcome by hiring more police officers, hiring a visionary city manager or giving firefighters a well-deserved raise.
I believe that government can and should be a force for progress, innovation and change. I believe that government can and should be a force for good. But I also know that government cannot be limited to the decisions made in City Hall because this is a government of, by and for the people and we are the people.
We are Columbia. And we're just getting started.