Good Morning everyone and thank you so much for joining us today. Thank you to Black Hawk College for hosting this event— congratulations to you on this lovely new building. We’re so thankful for all you do to create opportunity in our community.
My friends, Today– is a day– to celebrate. Stability and rationality have been reestablished in Moline and the city is now poised for a great coming into its own. We’ve accomplished this in 2022 by focusing on Pathways we’ve established and Partnerships we have established or renewed, that allow us to build a sense of shared prosperity among our residents and businesses. Because of the steps we took in 2022, that vision of prosperity increasingly comes into focus and the reality of Moline living up to its potential becomes ever more clear and present. These accomplishments are the result of the hard work of our staff and administration working with Council to bring our vision into reality.
Now, a pathway toward prosperity starts with a secure foundation- a secure home base. A support structure from which the path extends. We are strong financially and are weathering the storms of economic downturn and looming recession well. We have done this through enacting a multi-year budget plan and a multi-year strategic plan that are flexible enough to change as economic conditions change. Thanks to the city’s excellent Finance Department and work of the City Council, spending is conservative, revenue streams are stable, and we adhere to strong fiscal policies. All City fund balances are projected to end the year within City Policy, and we seek to maintain these healthy fund balances, to help guard against unexpected increased expenses and reduced revenues in the future.
The 2022 budget was not only a win for residents, but for our talented Finance Dept. as well. The City was a 1 st time recipient of Government Finance Officers Association’s Distinguished Budget Presentation Award. The 2022 budget was lauded for its “lean operating budgets and aggressive capital improvements” which resulted in Moline being in a very strong Financial Position, reaffirmed by an A1 Credit Rating by Moody’s Investors Service. We remain committed to living within our means and balancing long and short range financial goals.
With this financial security and with the addition of $20.7 million dollars of American Rescue Plan funds, we are in the process of creating more pathways for success for the City, its businesses and its residents. Highlights of 2022 ARPA expenditures total $4.99M and include:
● $1.3M Water & Sewer Projects
● $835K 36th Ave Court
● $2M BridgePointe acquisition
● $103K Childcare Forgivable LoanProgram.
● $100K Moline Community Development Corporation
● $150K Sidewalk repair & infill program
● $170K Small Business Loans
● $332K Various other projects
Our Total ARPA expenditures spent through the end of 2022 total $6.627M. The City is well on its way to spend the entire ARPA allocation by the end of calendar year 2026.
The City’s Strategic Plan, though lengthy and ambitious, is another pathway that is keeping us focused on success. This plan includes an aggressive attempt to complete eighty-five (85) major objectives over three fiscal years. As we close out FY22, twenty-two (22) objectives have been completed, twenty-one (21) objectives have reached 75% completion, and ten (10) goals have reached 50% completion. We are on track and will continue to amend this plan as a new council comes on board and new goals of importance emerge.
Some of the highlights of the plan include launching programs to simplify and update our zoning code. As we move into 2023, our Form-Based Code for downtown will be finalized and give needed guidance for developers who are working with us on downtown redevelopment. A Riverfront Masterplan and a revamping of our 20 year old comprehensive plan is also in the works. We successfully launched a new regional Landbank that will help reduce blight and improve properties across the city. We’ve helped to expand child care facilities so more of our parents can return to work. And we’re driving economic development through our recently launched BOOST program. More than 100 potential new entrepreneurs and new small business owners packed Western Illinois University’s Riverfront Hall anxious to learn about the program and put their ideas into action. We anticipate that the collective impact of these pathways toward prosperity will energize our local economy and help lead toward positive transformation.
However, None of those pathways matter if they aren’t strengthened through partnerships that bring good opportunities to fruition. Those partnerships start with a commitment to create relationships with business and other entities to do the transformative work that needs to be done. Whether it’s the school district partnering with us on a new administrative assistant internship, or Vibrant Credit Union breathing new life into our civic center, Moline has endeavored to strike a non-adversarial tone and continue cooperating with those interested in having a presence here. Having staff to respond to interests so inquiries are not lost in cyberspace, having a development review process that makes it easier to get projects off the ground– these are ways we are working to enhance existing and build new partnerships in our business community. Our success with bringing Metronet as a second broadband provider, our ability to work with Parr Industries to re-recruit them to Illinois, and our ability to attract and keep the interest of Lake Shore Recycling in doing business here are all evidence of our commitment to cooperation.
We also have worked to partner with the residents of Moline in meaningful ways, deepening our connection to them and to each other. Our rebooted Human Rights Commission took their job seriously and invested in the Hate Has No Home Here campaign, letting everyone know Moline is a welcoming community. They are currently engaged with GARE, the Government Alliance on Race and Equity to help us create equity maps and other internal mechanisms to operationalize equity. Our neighborhood groups are creating connections one block at a time, in conjunction with renewed focus from the Moline Community Development Corporation and their new executive director, Jinelle Choinier. Her professional expertise is helping to focus this partnership for neighborhood revitalization. Moline Center, and its new director, Kirk Marske, are also breathing new energy into the work and lives of merchants in our downtown. We look forward to all that is to come as a result of these partnerships. And of course, we continue our close partnership with Alex Elias at Renew Moline, who is helping us take judicious steps toward developing the JCPenny and Spiegel buildings and more.
Perhaps the greatest moments when we connected with our community this past year were the Moline 150 Sesquicentennial Celebration and the inaugural Dia de los Muertos parade organized by Mercado on 5th. Who can forget the amazing crowds on River Drive in August, or the gorgeous and meaningful celebration that lined 4th avenue in October? The tremendous response in terms of attendance and sheer joy in the experience is a testament to all that we and Mercado stand for regarding inclusion and celebration of our multifaceted identities both as a City and as residents. I can’t forget to mention two jewels in our crown of resident services remain our Library and Parks. The Library Board continues to expertly shepherd their outdoor space development plan and all of the diverse offerings the library provides. The Park board has steadily addressed needs in multiple parks and continues to guide the Riverside pool project well. Their work with the Two Rivers YMCA to bring an admission agreement to the pool is another example of how positive partnership can bring benefits to our residents.
We continue to explore our partnerships with businesses, educational institutions, and with public sector partners like IDOT. Whether it is programs in search of a home, or discussions about IL-92 and our redevelopment goals, we have invested significant time in building relationships with all of these groups for the mutual benefit of our residents. These positive relationships are the foundation from which our prosperity can take shape and our vision for the future of this great city can become reality.
Prosperity in Moline means different things to different people. Job opportunities, workforce infrastructure, capital improvements to our roads and bridges, all are signs of a city on the move– of a city that is chasing a version of itself that we haven’t seen before. To others, prosperity looks like money to be made, notoriety, or population growth and the type of services we provide. The challenge for city leaders is to build a shared vision around these disparate understandings. We do that by attending to our finances and collaborating with one another on legislation and budgeting that can bring about shared prosperity.
In 2022 we planned for prosperity by adjusting our budget to manage inflation that peaked at 9.1%. We began preparations for creating a new Tax Increment Financing area at the East entrance to the city, and we worked to get development going in TIF 7, by the airport, which hasn’t seen development since its creation in 2011. We’re also planning for prosperity through our discussions around complete streets, transportation and safety. Traffic calming and allowing families to live and work in a walkable and bikeable city prepares us for newcomers who are ready to join a thriving city with a promising future.
Addressing our public safety and deferred maintenance needs are also part of this plan, because safe and responsive communities are where people want to live. Steadily addressing our needs for a new fire station is a big part of that planning. Increasing funds for recruitment of police and fire personnel was a necessary move the Council made to address public safety concerns. As we look toward our work in 2023, we know we need to plan for prosperity by continuing the work we’ve started on downtown redevelopment and by focusing on housing issues in Moline so that we can be a city where anyone can afford to live. We’ll also need to keep diversifying our revenue streams and finding ways to attract businesses to locate, grow or remain in Moline. The pressures of costs will not abate immediately, and some will continue to grow, but conscientiously responding to our financial needs means less of a shock to all systems if we have to tighten our belts.
Recently, a community leader asked me, “What is your hope for Moline?” I replied that it’s a lot like what I want for my students–to live up to their potential. That is what I want for Moline. I want Moline to live up to its potential as a unique and prosperous city on the banks of the Mississippi River, where opportunity and connectedness abound. Where people feel, truly feel, that their city is investing in them and they want to give back. Where you can boomerang back after setting your sites on other places for education or work. Where there is something for everyone and we feel safe, seen, and cherished.
As we say thank you and farewell to council members who have dedicated years of service to Moline, we look for 2023 to be a year of re-forming, re-establishing goals, and re-introducing the Quad Cities to Moline and all that makes it unique. Our stance as a city will be welcoming, collaborative, and rational. We will look out for our citizen’s best interest without turning opportunities into adversaries. Those who seek to undermine our work through rumor, vendetta or malice will not have a seat at the table where the future of Moline is being determined, because the future of Moline requires positive partnerships. It is time for our city to step into the big shoes we have built for it, and walk, with renewed purpose and energy, into a bright future. We CAN find that prosperity when we build the pathways and cultivate the partnerships that will get us there.
With your help, we can do that