Gainesville "State of the City" Address
It may have been a rainy day in Gainesville, but the message from mayor Craig Lowe is that the future is sunny.
This year's State of the City address took a look back at many issues the City of Gainesville have faced. Including budget cuts and the "Burn A Koran Day" controversy.
However, much of Mayor Craig Lowe's address was about looking forward to what 2011 might hold.
Lowe said, "Gainesville in particular had cut over $10 million in spending heading into this budgetary cycle...it's safe to say that the low hanging fruit have been harvested."
Lowe said reductions were made to alleviate a projected $8 million shortfall in fiscal year 2011/2012. But he said some cuts will be re-evaluated. He said, "We need to restore funding to after school programs so these children do not end up in the criminal justice system or face other harm."
Lowe applauded the city's response to the Dove World Outreach Center's aborted plan to burn the Koran last September 11th. He said, "When the eyes of the world were upon us, you the citizens expressed our city's true character."
Lowe said the solar tariff initiative and bus rapid transit system (RTS) were some of the successes of 2010. And he defended the necessity of having the city's own police department, denouncing a consolidation with Alachua County Sheriff's Office.
Lowe said, "Any attempt to abolish this integral part of our city is an attack on our home rule. In short, we must defend and save GPD." The Cabot Koppers Superfund site clean-up, maintaining Gainesville Regional Utilities, infrastructure planning and the One Stop Homeless Center also were addressed.
But there was no mention of the controversial 130 meal limit for the homeless at Saint Francis House. Yet outside, that was the focus.
About 50 protesters want the city to drop the meal limit.
Inside, much of the focus was on looking forward, especially to the planned 40 acre Innovation Square Downtown. Lowe said, "This project will revolutionize Gainesville's economy by creating an estimated 3,000 jobs in high tech fields."
All in all, the message was one of hope in the city's ability to move ahead. Lowe said, "It is our ability to find opportunity in the face of difficulty, solutions in the midst of hardship and even unity as some attempt to divide us."
Some of the Mayor's agenda may be put to a referendum when three seats on the city commission come up for election on March 15th. At least one new commissioner will be elected and it appears the two incumbents will face numerous challengers.
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