Independence city director scores good points despite modified 2020 plans
Much like the Apollo 13 mission 50 years earlier, in which an unforeseen crisis turned a mission without fanfare into a matter of survival, Independence, like many other cities, suddenly had to chart a new course in 2020.
City chief executive Zach Walker said Independence’s resolve was put to the test in 2020, but the city has proven to be resilient and while plans have had to be adjusted, planning does not was not in vain. In his state of the city address scheduled for Wednesday’s Chamber of Commerce meeting, Walker plans to highlight several achievements amid the pandemic, as well as the challenges that remain.
Among these accomplishments, Walker says:
• Disbursed over $ 9 million in federal assistance to help with rent, utilities, food and small businesses, COVID-19 testing, and maintaining existing public transit.
• Avoid time off and mass layoffs despite a drastic drop in sales tax revenue – and not borrow on a $ 25 million emergency loan from the city’s utilities.
• With the advice of the citizen working group on diversity and inclusion, update organizational practices. The city has now integrated this working group into the Human Relations Commission “to ensure that this meaningful conversation continues.”
• Improved timelines for inspections of code cases and demolitions of hazardous buildings.
• Extension of the management agreement with Spectra for Cable Dahmer Arena, keeping this partnership in place until 2034.
• Voter-approved user tax for online sales peaked in year one – fully funding animal shelter and additional police officers ‘allowances (over $ 3 million) and s’ adding to other sales tax funds.
• Small ongoing investments for businesses and improvements along Noland Road.
Walker also thanks the Chamber of Commerce for its assistance in some elements that are part of the city’s strategic plan, including possibly the relaunch of the Land Clearance Redevelopment Authority to target abandoned and dilapidated residential properties, a community wide feasibility study. soon to be shared band and contributions to redevelopment of the Englewood Arts Center building.
The city manager said independence continues to struggle with economic and community problems that COVID-19 did not create but exacerbate.
“The problems of crime and disorder, the problems of stabilizing neighborhoods, the problems of plague and public health all have as their basis the need to fight against the inequalities that remain too pervasive in our community,” says Walker, stressing the ” K-shape ”recovery that took place with the pandemic. For the upper classes, the economic recovery from the pandemic recession is already largely over, but for the working poor, that recovery has not happened.
“Unfortunately, some of the hardest hit employment sectors are those that have a direct impact on too many of our citizens,” Walker said.
In view of this, the city manager said he hopes the chamber can continue to support diversity and inclusion, with the growing immigrant population in the region; mental health resources; housing – both in redevelopment and in tackling instability; fight homelessness; and the development of the city center.
Promoting civic renewal, community resilience and individual well-being are complex issues, Walker acknowledged, “which will almost certainly not be resolved today or tomorrow or perhaps even in our lifetime.” But they must be confronted to keep the city strong, he said.