Continued from Part 2 . . . .
The hard news is that we are still under a great deal of budget pressure. We have a huge legacy benefits obligation. We have constant effort going into how to address this obligation for retiree health care in the most constructive and sensitive way. We have solved virtually every other challenge of the downturn with the commitment of our employee team. This problem will also be solved in working with our executive team and our employees.
The state legislature continues to reach into our municipal pocket. The State has not developed an adequate plan for replacement revenue for the personal property tax they have voted to eliminate. And they continue to create programs which add to our costs. Our homes in foreclosure, which have always been among the lowest levels in Oakland County, are still consistently low. We are forecasting an upturn in property tax revenues of 1.5% next year. Our building permit volume seems to be bouncing upward from last year. Overall, while we have problems to solve, have no doubt, we are meeting all our obligations, paying all our bills.
A significant contribution to our successes have come from what Vince calls “preparing for prosperity.” To quote his 2010-11 plan “In a world of uncertainty, Farmington would be positioned to be seen as a safe, friendly and reliable City with all the small town comforts and charm.” Contemplating this future state certainly fits with Drucker’s statement.
The exciting news . . . . after more than a year of hard work on a public-private partnership. . . .the largest and most visible change will be in our downtown with the newly renamed Groves Retail Center along Grove Street. This summer we will see Part 2 of the major transformation initiated by the streetscape four years ago. Grove Street will be reconstructed and the retail center from Dress Barn to TJ Maxx will be refaced and reshaped and become what we hope will be a fresh spark for development in downtown and throughout our little city. I commend Vince, Chris and Annette for thinking innovatively, for their persistence, for their endurance; and the same goes to Charlie Kughn and Rickie Singh, the new owners of the Groves. The DDA Board and my fellow council members also deserve recognition for looking at this project and supporting the innovative funding plan, and a great design to complete the Streetscape project, which was envisioned many years ago.
Vince and Chris also worked up a funding plan in another public-private partnership to support the revitalization of the Drakeshire Center to the west of Downtown. With a new owner and a new façade, this center is ready for new occupants.
The former Dimitris location will be occupied by a new tenant in the spring. A Mexican restaurant, Los Tres Amigos, will be updating the facility and ready to serve this summer. This property was purchased by the DDA and the parking has been preserved for public use.
The DDA’s purchase of a vacant lot on Orchard Street is to be a short term holding pending finding a developer to create a nice residential development mirroring the condos developed by Steve Schneemann several years ago.
The Halsted Grand Center, where Kmart was on the western edge of Farmington has new ownership planning to remake that center, a welcome change since Kmart emptied out a few years ago.
On the other side of our city, the joint Corridor Improvement Authority for the development of Grand River from 8 mile Road to downtown Farmington is completing its visioning process and will soon be fostering new development. These board members will be leading a transformational change for this area that will benefit the businesses and neighborhoods located along the corridor. This is very exciting and will be a focus of our two cities for many years.
These results are from years of effort. And they make a great start, but we have much more to do. And we need all of your help.
more tomorrow . . .