Sunday, Aug. 17, 2014 | 2 a.m.
Editor’s note: For August, Brian Greenspun has invited some members of the community to talk about the issues important to them. Today’s column is by John Lee, the mayor of North Las Vegas.
One year ago, I willingly jumped in the cockpit of a city that was plummeting straight into the ground. Working together, our team of leaders, employees and residents was able to pull up on the airplane’s sticks and prevent us from slamming into the ground. Although the plane has leveled off, there is plenty of work to be done to gain lift and avoid the trees and mountains in our path on the horizon.
As incoming mayor, I inherited long-term and short-term challenges. Against all odds, and contrary to the predictions of financial experts on Wall Street, we were able to resolve our most pressing short-term challenge by settling a two-year legal dispute and negotiating contracts that balanced our budget, averted employee layoffs and avoided raising taxes on residents.
As we start to focus on the long-term challenges, I think of Winston Churchill’s statement, “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: It is the courage to continue that counts.” Despite us successfully resolving short-term challenges, now is the time to embrace our long-term challenges and courageously resolve them.
I have identified three specific goals our city will focus on over the next five years:
• Target employment and business growth in aerospace, defense, logistics, operations, and health and medical services with $600 million in new and expanding business investment, which will increase new business revenues to the city by $7 million.
• Establish financial stability by resolving our long-term financial challenges and building accountability and efficiency at City Hall.
• Unify our community by protecting and fortifying our community builders, like parks and libraries.
Cities cannot cut themselves into prosperity. Our past “last person out shuts off the lights” mentality is visionless and destructive, and has proved to be ineffective. We are focusing on creating a sustainable tax base through attracting promising new businesses with the highest probability of succeeding and promoting growth of our existing business partners. Over the past year, we implemented a comprehensive jobs and business initiative by overhauling our business practices to enhance customer service and optimize internal efficiencies. We have identified several innovative ways to solve some of the educational challenges discouraging new businesses. We are also working for ways to bring much-needed utility infrastructure to the land south of the speedway and to our industrial land in Apex so we can drive business development into our region.
We have the fortitude to resolve our financial challenges. This begins by using the state’s revenue disbursements through the C-Tax formula as a guide for sustainable smart growth. Gone are the days of North Las Vegas’ myopic and ill-fated attempts to change the formula. Complaining about its disparate treatment will be replaced with a sound strategy of promoting growth, rewarded by the formula.
We are protecting and fortifying our parks and libraries, and strengthening our police and fire services. For the first time in more than five years, we have hired new police officers. Through festivals and events, we can remove Craig Ranch Regional Park from the general fund, allowing this park to become self-sufficient and remain a source of pride for our community.
Residents didn’t elect me to be their mayor; they elected me to make their lives better. I am committed to addressing our long-term challenges with the same courage and resolve that fixed our short-term challenges. Continuing to work together, we will fly above the trees and soar over the mountain as we continue to put our city on the flight path to success.
John Lee is mayor of North Las Vegas.