Rochester Hills Mayor Barnett’s State of the City Address

Rochester Hills Mayor Barnett’s State of the City Address1016948_10203031980987721_1736772531_n

(Bryan K. Barnett, March 13, 2014, presented March 12, 2014)

•           Good evening. It is my privilege to welcome you here tonight as I present the 2014 Rochester Hills State of the City from the totally radical Emagine Theatre.

•           This is my 8th State of the City address and finding new and creative ways to top the previous year’s performance is becoming more and more challenging. Hopefully you enjoyed the 80’s intro?

•           I want to start tonight by thanking the individuals who bring the movies to Rochester Hills. We are grateful to have such wonderful community partners like Paul Glantz, Jon Goldstein and the entire Emagine Team.  I recognize that this is as close as I’ll ever get to the big screen so I greatly appreciate their kindness and Street-Eatzz-Adsupport.  And you all probably appreciate the free popcorn and pop.

•           Friends, we have a great community and you’re going to hear a lot about that this evening. You know, when you have a well-run community, you can usually trace that back to innovative and engaged leadership and our region has just that!

•           I would like to recognize the elected leaders here this evening and have them stand.  Please hold your applause till all have been recognized.

•           Ladies and gentlemen, I am so thrilled that you have joined me here this evening as we are truly celebrating something special. This year marks our city’s 30th Birthday… 30 years of awesomeness. And if you haven’t noticed by now, we are planning to celebrate this in true retro 80’s fashion this evening.

•           Now, of course our community’s roots go back much deeper than the 1980’s. They go all they way back to March 17, 1817 to be exact. When James Graham first settled in Avon Township. 197 years ago almost to the day.

•           Over the past 197 years, more and more families, businesses, friends and visitors have come to know and love what our community is all about.

•           While not always stated as such, it is clear that our community’s long standing purpose and goal has been to be the preeminent place to live, work and raise your family, and for decades the leaders of this community have carefully guarded that goal.

•           From our humble beginnings in1817 when people rode horses and listened to (Old Music Clip) , to 1984 when we became a city and we were driving the 1st Chrysler minivan and listening to this on FM moderntaxRadio, (Music Clip), to today when you can drive a vehicle actually produced in Rochester Hills, the Equus Base 770 and listen to this (Music Clip) on Satellite radio.

•           No matter the era or challenge, our city has grown and changed with the times. And tonight, I’m happy to report that the growth continues.

•           From humble beginnings, Rochester Hills is now the 15th largest city in the state of Michigan. Rochester Hills is now the same size as the city of Southfield and over 20% larger than the City of Pontiac.

•           Last year we had our highest total of building permits since 2008 and among those new permits, were nearly 90 for new houses.

•           Now traditionally, I always lead with these housing statistics because they are, in my opinion, some of the most important we have.  These are really the building blocks for any community. New families putting kids in our schools, helping support our nonprofits and demanding new services from our retailers and businesses.

•           And those new homes they moved into….well those new homes averaged a construction cost of over $430,000 meaning they sold for closer to $500,000, representing a significant investment in our community.

•           The housing market in general has come roaring back. Realtors  are reporting bidding wars for Rochester Hills homes with many buyers paying more than the asking price. The market in our city is certainly hot.

•           In fact, the Oakland Press reported just 3 weeks ago that Rochester Hills led all of our neighbors in home value increases in 2014! Now, I don’t want to name of these communities, but one of them is Orion Township.

•           New homes, increased sales, higher values…yes, in Rochester Hills, when we talk about housing we truly have many reasons sidebar01sponsorto be optimistic.

•           That optimism, in the past however, has been dampened by the foreclosure epidemic in America.  And it has touched Rochester Hills. But our economic recovery and stability has certainly reversed that trend and dramatically improved our foreclosures numbers from 352 in 2010 to just 89 in 2013. A decrease of nearly 75% over the past 4 years. Simply an amazing recovery!

•           As they’ve been doing for nearly two centuries, people continue to find our area attractive to live and to raise their families and because of this, our city grows and prospers.

•           Perhaps the item however, that is most to credit for our continued status as a desirable community to live in, is the number of high quality, high paying jobs available to our residents.

•           As most of you know, this mission is very personal and passionate for me.  I believe most community issues can be solved by a good paying job. It impacts not only the quality of life for our families, but our property values, the health of our school district, our service providers, even our crime rate.

•           All are closely tied to the number, and quality, of our community’s jobs.  Because of that, we spend an incredible amount of time working to attract and retain, the good high paying, technology based jobs of the future.

•           I am proud to report tonight that this focused approach and strategy continues to pay dividends for our residents.  In 2013, 8 brand new, high tech companies were welcomed into Rochester Hills and with them over 500 new jobs.

•           Companies like IM Branded, a graphics advertising company who, among many other things, produces the building wraps on the Chrysler Headquarters building. They consolidated their offices in Troy and Madison Heights and moved in on Research ctechadDrive, brining 60 employee’s to their new facility with plans to hire an additional 25 within the year.

•           Advenovation is another Rochester Hills company with a great story. They got their business legs underneath them starting out at the OU Incubator. A joint initiative between Oakland University and Rochester Hills.

•           Adevenovation’s area of expertise is in the field of vision guided robotics and they are currently developing the heat shield on NASA’s Orion Capsule which will replace the space shuttle later this year. You know, simple stuff.

•           Already this year they have experienced 500% growth and have added 15 new employee’s.

•           And speaking of robotics, I would be remiss if I didn’t provide a quick shout out to our friends at Fanuc.

•           This year Fanuc became the cities 1st Billion dollar company and thanks to their success, as well as Pari and Motoman, the City of Rochester Hills retains its title as the robotic capital of North America!

•           These are just a couple quick examples of the innovations flourishing in Rochester Hills these days and our administration is happy to support them.

•           The fact of the matter is that growth was evident in all corners of our town as we added nearly $80 million in projects across the City. And whether you’re designing a new automobile, a heat shield, or a donut, we are glad you have chosen Rochester Hills.

•           With a community of nearly 75,000 residents, we must have a wide variety of jobs for our diverse workforce.  By partnering with the Chamber of Commerce, we’ve welcomed many other new businesses to our community this year as well. Take a look at this short, but gnarly video welcoming a few of our newest partners…Ribbon Cutting Video

•           Thank you to all of the new members of our business family for investing here and making last year such a resounding DENGATE _Fern115_Adsuccess. Let’s give them a round of applause.

•           We will, and must, continue to be aggressive and innovative in our engagement of business leaders and companies as competition abounds.

•           And, as I mentioned, we will not rest on any laurels or past success.

•           With that in mind, I was proud to introduce a new partnership to help support our businesses at a press conference two weeks ago.

•           For businesses to be successful, they have to be where their customers are. And in today’s day and age…that’s the web.

•           It’s astonishing to think that 61% of Michigan Small Businesses do not have an active web presence. Well, we are aiming to change that here in Rochester Hills. Thanks to a new partnership between our city and Google, I am proud to announce our campaign to get Rochester Hills businesses online. And, with any good campaign there has to be t-shirts!

•           With this unique partnership, Google is offering any Rochester Hills businesses without a website a custom domain name, web hosting, and access to educational resources, for one year…all for FREE!

•           We want all of our small businesses to be successful and this partnership should give our Rochester Hills businesses a leg up.

•           To find out more about our new relationship with Google, check out the table in the lobby here this evening, or visit rochesterhills.org.

•           Our motto is simple…we don’t want to be in your business…we shouldn’t be, but if there is a way we can support you and help it grow, that’s a role we can and will play.

•           Why you ask?  You remember those $500,000 homes we celebrated and mentioned earlier tonight?  It’s because small businesses and innovative start-ups are the type of job creating companies that are driving the need for the $500,000 houses we are building.  A wonderful inertia we are committed to continuing.

•           The bottom line is simple and our strategy is working. We are bringing companies, creating jobs, and our residents are benefiting.

•           Ladies and gentleman, since the start of my administration, we have welcomed over 100 new high tech companies, created and retained over 5,400 high tech jobs and nearly $160 million in new investments.

•           In our technology parks, where 11,000 people go to work each morning. Our vacancy rates is just 3.4%…the lowest in a decade.BTLWeddingExpo_144x360

•           And our unemployment rate, ladies and gentlemen, stands at just 4.2%, the lowest in Rochester Hills since 2008,

the lowest in Oakland County and the 2nd lowest in the entire state of Michigan.

•           Friends, I will never, ever, ever get tired of repeating a statistic like that…ever!

•           So the numbers are overwhelming and undeniable. Residents & businesses are flocking to Rochester Hills and we think we know why.

•           For many, we know it’s a combination of access to a talented and educated workforce, a business friendly environment, and our world famous lowest tax rate among cities in Oakland County.

•           Of course, our educated workforce is an exceptional advantage  on many fronts. With nearly 50% of our population holding Bachelor’s degrees and nearly a quarter with Master’s Degrees, our residents are tech savvy and prepared for the knowledge based jobs of the future.

•           And with two outstanding institutions of higher learning like Oakland University and Rochester College, we are perfectly positioned to remain the educational epicenter of our region.

•           Now, about those two outstanding institutions, both have undergone significant changes over the last year. Take for instance, Oakland University, my alma mater, and the 2nd largest  employer in our City. Well, their stock just keeps rising. Now HowesLocationwith over 20,000 students, nearly 100,000 alumni, and over 260 degree and certificate programs, and prominently placed in the powerful Horizon League, O.U is quickly becoming a national player…that we choose to graciously share with our friends in Auburn Hills.

•           The OU William Beaumont School of Medicine is now in its 3rd year and boasts 225 of the nations brightest minds. These students were selected from thousands of world wide applications. Once fully integrated, it is projected to have a billion dollar impact on our local & regional economy.

•           Under the new leadership of Dr. Betty Youngblood, who took over for longtime President Dr. Russi, the growth continues with nearly every crane in this region camped out on campus for either the new engineering building, new parking deck, new on campus housing, or new bell tower. Go Grizzlies is not just a saying on a t-shirt. It’s a way of life on the Rochester Hills campus!

•           And just down the road, Rochester College continues to grow as well. This past fall they launched a capital campaign to build a recreation facility and celebrated the 1st million raised late last month. They also have seen record breaking enrollment for 4 out of the last 5 years. They too, experienced change at the top when Dr. Rubel Shelly transitioned into the role of Chancellor and Dr. John Tyson became President. Dr . Tyson has been wonderfully engaged and supportive in growing the ties between the college and the City since his arrival. He loves telling people he is from Texas where he anticipates your response to be something like this…(Video Clip)

•           However, my experience is that  after meeting him your much more likely to say something like this….(Video Clip)

•           Folks, its not always easy to keep this 1984 thread moving through this presentation….so cut me a little slack.

•           In short, both OU & Rochester College play an important role in our cities success and all 3 of our organizations are truly thriving.

•           At the end of the day however, what really separates our community from the hundreds that surround us, are the quality of life amenities we enjoy in Rochester Hills.

•           It’s the world class senior services provided by the OPC.  It’s our fantastic Library.  Our top ranked School Districts.  Our beautiful rivers and trails.   Our quaint Historic District.  And our unique and diverse Park system.

•           But for just a minute, indulge me as we take a slightly deeper look at the 1st two.

•           The OPC. This organization has been truly transformative in our community. They are friendly, efficient, supportive, engaged, comprehensive and all around…awesome!

•           They provide meals, nutrition, activities, opportunities, relationships, and above all hope to over 100,000 seniors a year. For 30 years they have been a beacon of quality & innovation in senior services and for 30 years they have had but one brilliant, passionate, humble leader. Later this year, Marye Miller will step down as the Director, leaving behind a monumental legacy. I’ve said it before, 100 years from now there will be very few people that this community will remember. Marye Miller will be one of them.nicholas-schrock-allstate

•           Marye, thank you for giving our community 30 years of hard work, integrity, leadership and accomplishment. You have left a legacy you can be proud of. Marye is my guest here tonight and I’d like her to stand and be recognized.

•           Now, about our Rochester Hills Public Library. Over the last year The Barnett Family has checked out hundreds and hundreds of books, and returned…most of them, so we consider ourselves pseudo experts on this topic. We are extremely blessed to have such an amazing resource right here in our community. Led by Christine Hage, the Rochester Hills Public Library is one of the finest in Southeast Michigan. With one exception…that ridiculously tough to navigate outdoor drop-off drive-thru. Those of you who use the library know what I’m talking about.

•           Take a look at this totally random security camera footage shot earlier today. (Video)

•           Well, this year it’s finally going to be fixed and we thank the library board and their entire team of volunteers and employees for all of their hard work.

•           The OPC and Library are two great examples, but we know there are literally hundreds of organizations and groups that contribute to improving the daily lives of our residents, like the Rochester Area Neighborhood House, Blessings in a Backpack and our incredible CERT Team. We truly are grateful for their impact in Rochester Hills.

•           Quality of life investment continues to be a hallmark for our organization as well. We recognize intrinsically, it’s why so many people move here and enjoy living here. And we recognize statistically that our residents often vote with their feet.

•           So, at my last State of the City Address, I promised that 2013 would be a year of investment in our parks and introduced the DDAsample01idea of the community garden, the reuse of the 1827 Calf Barn, and the exciting announcement of the development of Riverbend Park.

•           Ladies and gentlemen, in 2013 we delivered on each of those new projects.

•           Our parks system is dynamic, diverse and highly valued. And last year, for the 5th year in a row we topped 1 million visitor days in our parks!

•           Nearly 170,000 enjoyed Bloomer Park as Mountain Bikers, trail enthusiasts, cricketeers, sledders, and runners flocked to weekly events.

•           Nearly 250,000 swimmers, boaters, skaters & anglers, made the pilgrimage to Spencer Park, mostly to enjoy Carter Lake.

•           And nearly 400,000 soccer moms,  baseball dads, in-line skating gurus, tennis champions and firework fanatics enjoyed all the activities at Borden Park in 2013.

•           One point of personal pride in our parks system is the story of our museum. During the financial challenges of the past few years, many museums in our area have consolidated, sold and even closed. Well, not ours! Last year the Rochester Hills Museum at Van Hoosen Farm saw record attendance numbers averaging 140 visitors a day…everyday of the year!

•           Additionally, recognizing the value the museum provides our community, nearly $800,000 in private donations have been raised to secure the 1848 schoolhouse, make repairs to the campus, and this past year, raise the roof on the Calf Barn. This wonderful new space has been a huge hit for weddings, community events and other special gatherings and is already completely booked for every weekend in 2014. Let me repeat that…completely booked in 2014! Amazing!

•           This incredible effort was recently recognized statewide as our renovated Calf Barn, built with the support of the community and a passionate museum staff, was named Michigan’s Barn of the Year for 2014!

•           Our apologies and best wishes to the barn that finished second. I think we have a picture…

•           Last year you may recall we proposed and city council supported the city’s 1st community garden. Well, our inaugural year was a tremendous success. The garden sold out quickly and 95% of our gardeners told us they were satisfied with their gardening experience.  Additionally, nearly 60% ate more vegetables and over 50% got more exercise because of their participation with the Jim Shaffer ad EDITEDcommunity garden. The exact results we were hoping for.

•           I want to thank Recyclebank for their financial support and the Rochester Rotary for their sweat equity support and financial commitment in helping our garden dreams become a reality.

•           The garden will be back again this year, so please visit our website for details on how you can reserve your plot now….as you know from last year, they go and grow quickly.

•           Recognizing that our residents appreciate beautification projects, we also invested and improved Veteran’s Memorial Pointe and the Roundabout on Hamlin. We renovated the only Velodrome in the State of the Michigan with the help of The Hughes and their incredible team, and we upgraded and improved the playgrounds at Spencer and Borden parks.

•           Parks are important to our residents, so they are a priority for us. But the parks weren’t the only department to see major investment last year. The city made a considerable contribution to improving our infrastructure as well.

•           For example, the Department of Public Services added a salt storage facility on their campus on Auburn Road. Brilliantly predicting 18 months ago that this winter would be the worst in 100 years….we invested in this facility to enhance service delivery, address environmental concerns and improve the speed in which we clear your streets. By all measures, this project has been a success.

•           Additionally, knowing that the #1 issue residents rated as a “serious concern” was the condition of our residential road network. The administration sought to immediately respond to this request by increasing our construction budget total from $1.8 million per year in 2012 to over $3 million per year for the next 3 years.

•           The city council not only supported this move, but actually increased the allocated proposal for construction by over $2 million to respond directly to our residents’ concerns.

•           Ladies and gentlemen, This coming summer we will have more residential street repairs than any summer since 2002.

sharon chess thank you•           Road work is scheduled in Cumberland Hills, Eddington Farms, and Thornridge, as well as work on Avon and Tienken roads in partnership with the Road Commission for Oakland County.

•           But, perhaps just as impressive as the amount of work we have done, has been the way we have been able to leverage the limited resources we have allocated. The city has been tremendously proactive and resourceful when it comes to stretching your tax dollars.

•           Over the last 7 years, we have invested nearly $144M on our roads and bridges. Of the $144M total, only $15.5M (or 11%) was directly from our city coffers.  The rest leveraged through our partners, governmental agencies and grants. Truly a record to be proud of.

•           Improvements in our roads, parks and facilities are all designed to improve our efficiencies and ultimately, improve your experience living in our city. We exist to serve our residents and proper planning for our infrastructure is a bedrock principle of this administration and council.

•           Of all these improvements however, there is one that excites me the most. One that wakes me up at night with possibility. As I announcd last year, the city will be developing its 1st new park in nearly 20 years on the citys southwest side.

•           Even the story of how we got to this point is pretty cool and speaks to the creative nature of the people that work here in Rochester Hills. We had a problem and we saw an opportunity.

•           You see, the city has a piece of property that truly is a hidden gem with no real public access. The problem….the problem of course, was we really didn’t have the funding.

•           Enter creativity! Director’s Ed Anzek and Mike Hartner, contacted Lawrence Tech University’s Graduate Land Use Planning class and worked out a unique partnership. We made Riverbend Park their semester project and 20 students spent several months studying the property and dreaming about the possibilities.

•           In the end, 5 teams presented their ideas to our Planning Commission and City Leaders in order to graduate. I took those storyboard dreams and visions and began looking to solve the funding problem.

•           Having those visuals, and the plans and ideas that accompanied them, caught the eye of one philanthropic individual. Thanks to an incredibly generous gift of $1 million from my friend and prominent city business owner and resident, Steve Stolaruk, Riverbend Park will be undergoing a transformation this year.

•           The team is in place and charging hard. We engaged Hubble Rot & Clark to lead the planning components and Niswander & Associates to help us protect and enhance the parks natural beauty. Strategic Communication Solutions was asked to help move the process smoothly, and to work with the MDEQ who will oversee the technical permits required. We met with the surrounding neighborhoods and received tremendous support and have had preliminary discussions to an enthusiastic Planning Commission. Everyone is excited about this project!

•           We have begun to clear the parking lot area and design has begun on the trail network. When complete, Riverbend Park will be the first Environmental Park in the region composed of a variety of habitats resulting in cleaner water, cleaner air, and healthier and better educated residents.

•           This new park will give visitors an entirely new Rochester Hills Park experience and I personally can’t wait for everyone to begin to enjoy this park for themselves.essential

•           It’s not too often you get to work on a legacy project, but this certainly is one that will improve our quality of life and one we can all be proud of for years to come.

•           And speaking of legacy, there is probably one major project that defines that as much as any in my time as mayor. Our innovative trash program. It’s hard to believe that later this month we will celebrate 5 years under this current system. If you’re new to the community you might wonder why this still remains such a point of pride. Well, 5 years ago trash collection here in Rochester hills was an all-out free-for-all, everyone had their own day, company and price. We looked like this…(Clip)

•           In 2009, we used the collective power of the city to negotiate lower rates for nearly 95% of our residents. And the innovation….that came by adding those chips to your bins and partnering with Recyclebank to incentivize recycling.

•           We were the 1st in Michigan. The Council and I took a significant risk at the time and some thought the move was foolish. Well, 5 years later…the results are outstanding. In fact, Nothing short of incredible. Before this comprehensive program only 18% of our residents recycled regularly. Today, it’s between 80-90%. Over 70% of our residents use the rewards program and over 35,000 rewards were

redeemed last year alone. That’s nearly 100 a day or 8 since we sang the National Anthem this evening.

•           Those rewards, incidentally, are fueling business at our local partners like Alex’s Restaurant and Hollywood Market. And for those of you who would prefer a more impactful purpose for your points….I would direct you to our green schools program.

•           Once again two Rochester Community Schools have been chosen for this national program. Simply visit Recyclebank.com and donate your points to help University Hills and Long Meadow Elementary reach their goals to build environmental projects on their school grounds.  The deadline to donate is March 15th.

•           Since this programs inception, almost $15,000 has been donated back to Rochester Hills schools to help reinforce the environmental message to our next generation.

•           Ladies and gentlemen, here’s the good news….the program is getting even better. Thanks to skillful negotiation and public input, we are pleased to announce several enhancements starting next month. Let’s start with the big one. Price!

•           Last year, residents paid almost $52 a quarter. Our new price beginning next month drops to $45 a quarter. A nearly 13% reduction and a rate lower than when we started in 2009!

•           Additionally, we have increased the snow bird credit by 50% for those of you who take advantage of that option. We have increased the leaf pickup season by two weeks each year, and lowered the overall annual increase to 2% in the coming years. The results of these negotiations are impressive.

•           Over the life of this 5 year contract we will save our residents over $4 million dollars! That’s $4 million dollars in the pockets of our residents and not in the pockets of the garbage companies.

•           And the service…well we asked our residents if you were happy and in our statistically significant survey, only 4% were dissatisfied. 4%! There are more than 4% of you dissatisfied with your seat in here tonight! A remarkable number for a program of this magnitude.

•           With numbers like that, this program continues to be an absolute winner. We took a risk 5 years ago, but that’s what leaders do and our reward has been profound both economically and environmentally. Rochester Hills is now proudly viewed nationally gallowaycollens1for this leadership.

•           Tonight, friends, I hope you are clearly hearing several things. Our Rochester Hills team is exceptional and innovative. And those two words describe the way we have handled our finances over the years as well.

•           It’s no secret that the finances of every level of government are under a lot of scrutiny these days. Unfunded liabilities, budget deficits, Emergency Managers, and the Detroit bankruptcy have brought national media attention to our region. These financial difficulties are a reality for many communities in Metro Detroit, and a looming concern for others. Fortunately, we have always led with a conservative and long term approach coupled with a strong commitment to transparency.

 

 

•           For years, the administration and fiscal team have provided financial forecasts looking two to five years into the future. But in 2010, we were the first city in Michigan to incorporate a 3 year budget. That’s right. The 1st city. A brilliant plan…we simply copied from L. Brooks Patterson as Oakland County was the 1st, and still the only county in America to do a 3 year budget.

•           And, while Rochester Hills has higher than average income and education levels, we too were blistered by the recession losing 20% of our taxable value between 2009 and 2013. Fortunately, our collective vision and innovative thinking, including the three-year budget plan, helped us reduce our outstanding debt to 1% of tax value and increased our General Fund Balance by 47% in just 3 years.

•           You heard that correctly….during a loss of 20% of our revenue we saved more than we spent. And unlike Detroit, Lansing, Washington, and others….we ended each year in the black. We sit now in an enviable position ranked in the top 5% of Michigan municipalities for financial stability and able to invest in our residents biggest areas of interest.

•           And that financial stability is being recognized. As earlier this year, Standard & Poor’s joined Fitch’s Rating agency in awarding the City of Rochester Hills the coveted municipal AAA Bond Rating.

•           Successful money management is one aspect of our strategic plan, but just as important is getting your constituents to understand where you are headed and how you plan to get there.

•           For the past three years, we have produced both a Financial Summary Report and Performance Dashboard. These documents provide a way for citizens to easily review our finances, economic strength, public safety, quality of life, and community partnerships. These documents simplify the budget process in a very easy to read and understandable format, and promote transparency and accountability to our residents.

•           While I am proud to tout these accomplishments, it truly represents a team effort. From outstanding information delivered by our fiscal team to a City Council with a clear vision and purpose, Rochester Hills is fortunate to have some of the region’s best. Our Fiscal team, for example, has won 17 budget awards in recent years for innovation and transparency. In fact, we are one of only six municipalities in the state to receive all three awards from the Government Finance Officers Association…1 of only 6 in the state!

•           And last month, in perhaps our teams highest honor, I was asked to present to our nations mayors on the topic of “Five things financially responsible Mayors should know.”

•           Our city, Rochester Hills, was recognized as a national benchmark for good financial management. We are doing it right and leading the way. I couldn’t be more proud of our entire team.greenthumbAD

•           And let me talk about that team for a minute. Through all of the successes, adventures, innovations, challenges and awards, the thing I am most pleased about is the absolute awesome team I am honored to be a part of.

•           Our employee’s care about the jobs they do and it shows every day. From our incredibly hard working DPS Crews, which have excelled through the worst winter in 100 years, to the incredible job our clerks department did in receiving 100% score in the election audit and in processing over 1300 passports, an increase of 145% from the previous year, to the great work of our internal departments of Finance, HR, Treasury & Assessing, all of them improving service delivery and finding efficiencies each day.

•           We celebrated the end product of new businesses and growth earlier tonight, but all of that stems from a having a Planning & Economic Development team and a Building & Ordinance team that are synchronized, sophisticated, and successful.

•           And look at what we are not talking about. Many mayors must spend a significant amount of time explaining a botched police response or increased fire response times. Not here! Our Rochester Hills Fire Department and Oakland County Sheriff’s Officers excel at their roles of providing public safety, so much so that the Fire Department received the highest satisfaction rates of any department in the city and the Sheriff’s services resulted in 99% of our residents feeling safe in their homes and 96% feeling safe in their neighborhoods.

•           You talk about items that impact property values. Faith in your first responders and feeling safe and secure in your community…I can’t think of any factors more directly related.

•           Tonight, I am pleased to make a major announcement regarding our Rochester Hills Fire Department. After a nationwide search, I am pleased to welcome our new Fire Chief, Sean Canto from Prospect, Kentucky, who will take over the reins on March 24.

•           Chief Canto comes from a fire service family and has a distinguished career of innovation and leadership. I am looking sidebar01reader_supportforward to his arrival and want to thank Chief Ron Crowell for his leadership and steady hand over the last 8 years. Our team will be well suited for the future with these two fire service professionals.

•           Friends, it is pretty simple. We have created a culture of excellent customer service and our employees are delivering. The proof, of course, is not in the mayor saying it…it’s whether or not the residents believe it. Here in Rochester Hills it’s one and the same.

•           Last year in our statistically significant survey, our employee’s did their best 1984 World Series Game 4, 1st inning Alan Trammel impression (Video Clip)

•           And just like Ernie Harwell said, they absolutely hit it out of the park, as 97% of our residents reported feeling satisfied or very satisfied in their experience with one of our team members. That my friends…is a job well done.

•           Please join me in thanking our Rochester Hills employee’s for this great accomplishment.

•           Well, we are certainly doing well here in the city, but there are always things we can do to improve. In just about any organization, communication is key to success. When you have 75,000 people to communicate with and thousands of messages to communicate, the challenge is even greater. Well, as a city, I challenged our team to come up with better ways for our residents to engage their government and access information. As you might expect, they did just that.

•           Data collected and analyzed by our MIS Department indicates that 25% of our website users access our site via a mobile device. Smartphones are everywhere. In fact, I am sure half of you have been surfing in your seats since Dr. Shaner’s introduction. So we know you’re out there!

•           From Candy Crush and Pandora, to Amazon and more, there is an app for everything. And now there is an app for your city!

•           Thanks to the hard work of our Communications Team and MIS Department, tonight I am pleased to launch Rochester Hills Connect, the city’s first mobile app designed to make it more convenient for the city to connect with our residents and for you  to stay connected with us!JudyPalmer01

•           Featuring everything from news and events, to trailway maps and videos, this app covers it all and puts city information at your finger tips.

•           For example….and this is just a crazy, crazy, non realistic, way out there example. But let’s just say you see a pothole on Tienken Road. The old way was to call when you got home or send an email later that day trying to remember exactly where it was.

•           Well, by using the Report a Concern feature on the app, you can snap a picture, of course not while driving, and instantly send it to our team.

•           Your GPS-enabled smartphone will geotag the photo, allowing work crews to locate your concern without requiring you to enter an address- The application will automatically return a map showing the location.

•           It is totally free and totally awesome, and is now available for Android devices and will be coming soon for Apple.

•           Oh….and as far as leadership and innovation. We will be just the 2nd city in the State of Michigan with our own App. Just another example of how Rochester Hills continues to lead the way.

•           Friends, Rochester Hills is truly on a roll. We are a very blessed community and I feel very blessed to be your mayor. I love bridget and kevin deegan krause thank youthis city deeply and feel so fortunate to be a part of such an outstanding team of public servants.

•           At the end of the day, with all of the growth, changes, innovation and challenges, the final word on our success rests with our end users. Our residents. And their overwhelming satisfaction with living in our beautiful town.

•           One horribly uncomfortable 1980’s classic song and video shares just how well we did in this category.

•           I promise you, we are the only State of the City to use that clip anywhere in America! But Toto is right. 99!

•           That’s right! 99% of our residents are happy and satisfied with living in our community. The highest recorded total in our history.

•           Friends, I am proud to lead the most motivated and innovative team of municipal employees anywhere in Michigan. I am proud of our outstanding accomplishments in 2013 and even more excited about our ambitious plans in 2014.

•           We have positioned ourselves as Southeast Michigan’s fiscal, environmental and collaborative leader. And have the awards to prove it. Our overall performance…well, I’d say we did another 1984 World Series Tiger impression. With the game on the line, just like Gibby, our gutsy team absolutely delivered

(Video Clip)

•           Ladies and gentlemen, the State of our City is excellent! In fact, it’s awesome and growing even stronger. Here’s to 30 years of amazing innovation in Rochester Hills. Congratulations and thank you all for the role you each play in making helping make Rochester Hills the undisputed preeminent place to live, work and raise your family.

•           May God Bless you, our country, and may God continue to Bless our community for the next 30 years.

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Oakland County Times has written 10644 articles for Oakland County Times

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