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Mayor cites deep debt, praises Yuma departments
- Click here to watch full State of the City address and council meeting courtesy of the City of Yuma Channel 73 video archive
The city of Yuma is deeply in debt, Mayor Al Krieger said in his State of the City Address before the Yuma City Council Wednesday evening.
While that's a concern, he praised several city departments for services they provide the community, noting that several positive measures have been taken.
Krieger attributed the debt to several large projects and reduced revenue combined with funding cuts by the state that have “created a financial perfect storm.”
Furthermore, the city's “rainy day fund” was almost completely depleted by a serious wind storm. “Another event would put that budget in serious jeopardy.”
On a more positive note, the mayor commended the Yuma Police Department for taking on the responsibility of animal control within the city.
“The many months of public discussion and diligent work of the administrator have produced a workable solution to animal control,” he said, adding that pet license fees now collected by the city will help stabilize the general fund.
Krieger also commended Police Chief Jerry Geier for his leadership that has led to improved public safety. Saturday will be the last day for Geier, who will become the new police chief for Goodyear. Yuma Deputy Chief John Lekan will serve as interim police chief.
The Yuma Fire Department also has been working hard to “improve our residents' chances of surviving a medical emergency,” Krieger said. He applauded partnerships YFD has forged with the University of Arizona's Sarver Heart Center and Arizona's emergency medical director “to bring the latest in medical response and community preparedness to Yuma.” YFD also responds when there is a need in other area communities and sent an engine crew to help fight last summer's Monument Fire near Sierra Vista.
YFD has maintained its accreditation as one of only 129 nationally accredited fire agencies for the past eight years, Krieger said.
Krieger also praised the Parks and Recreation Department, noting that for five years in a row the city has been designated a Playful City, USA, and been designated a Tree City, USA, for four years in a row.
Other steps by the department have included the Imagination Playground in a Box project with area schools as well as a successful graffiti abatement program.
Another highlight for the city is improvements to the area's public transit program with the formation of the Yuma County Intergovernmental Public Transportation Authority, Krieger said. Transit director John Andoh “is continuing to rebuild a bus system that is now serving Yuma with safe, efficient public transportation.”
Other highlights mentioned by Krieger included:
• The preservation and restoration of the Yuma Territorial Prison after the state turned it over to the city to operate.
• Hiring of City Economic Program Manager Kevin Wilkins to assist Greater Yuma Economic Development Corp. in attracting new industry to the area and creating jobs.
• Success of the Yuma Visitors Bureau in drawing attention to Yuma, and “the tourist dollars reflect that effort.”
• “The city administrator has met the challenges of working for seven bosses with professionalism and openness. The community is pleased to have been re-engaged with the city.”
Krieger concluded: “As your mayor, I will continue working for the betterment of this great city and look forward to a great centennial year in 2012.”
Joyce Lobeck can be reached at email@example.com or 539-6853. Find her on Facebook at Facebook.com/jlobeck or on Twitter at @YSJoyceLobeck.