A new year means new priorities. This year we will be pursuing what may be seen as obvious but essential goals:
Civic Center Arena Construction to begin: A massive project requiring budget oversight. The design and construction teams are now reconciling the budget and construction is set to begin mid 2019.
Embrace the Base: An off-shoot of ELEVATE Rapid City, Embrace the Base seeks to properly recognize and promote our appreciation for Ellsworth Air Force Base. A Vision Fund proposal for a military appreciation park was approved this year. Important legislation was passed in the 2019 session to allow military spouses holding professional licenses from other states to easily transfer the credentials to South Dakota. This will dramatically lower the military spouse unemployment rate.
One Heart Campus: Homelessness is an issue I have been proud to bring to the forefront. Homelessness is one of the most expensive conditions taxpayers face and ignoring it will only make it worse. The One Heart campus will assemble local service agencies to provide a new and more effective community approach to the issues contributing to homelessness. Obviously, it is important to address this issue from a humanitarian perspective, but it is also important to address the financial implications related to it. Tax payer funds are limited and we should be looking to reduce homeless-related expenditures through effective programming. One Heart is an example of this.
Community Engagement: This is essential in order to staff volunteer citizen boards and committees. It is also vitally important to gain the public confidence through transparency, accountability and fiscal responsibility.
The lot formerly known as Presidents Plaza: No single issue in City Hall has been discussed more over the last 10-12 years. With the recent dissolving of the partnership between the City and the Pres. Plaza developers, the City is now ready to make something happen in the 500 block of St. Joseph Street – currently a City parking lot. Careful review of the former project has provided a critical learning experience for the City and we intend to seek new partnerships and a new development, minus the complications of the previous project.
City Building Plan: The City owns many buildings and other operational facilities, but does not have an overall building maintenance plan. Decades of neglect and being out-prioritized, some of the City buildings are in poor condition. This is a situation needing correction and through the use of existing funds we will adopt a building plan and add a building supervisor. Protection of tax payer assets is a fundamental task and we can do better.
Early Childhood Education: We should help build a coalition of early childhood educators and support a city-wide effort to provide for essential educational needs for pre-school age children. Today’s working parents and especially those living in poverty lack the resources or time to provide what children need. We cannot state we are concerned with improving our local workforce while ignoring an issue we know exists. Our children are our future and research shows early childhood education may be the only hope of breaking the poverty cycle. Look for news on this issue early in 2019!
City Government: Is Rapid City utilizing the best governmental option for it’s citizens? Some research and exploration should be given to other forms of government. The options include home rule, city manager, city administrator and our current form – strong mayor / aldermanic. It is a question needing answered but the quest cannot be taken lightly. The taxpayers deserve to know their options, and be able to choose the best one for the future.