Tuesday night’s council meeting saw an attendance a little larger than normal as Mayor Al Litman was to give his State of the City Address after the regular agenda items.
For those agenda items, which all three passed, included a property transfer, amending policies to the Traffic Impact Analysis Policies and the city’s participation in a discount prescriptions program. Background materials on all three are available on the city’s website. Ultimately, none of them will increase the city’s costs or affect the budget in many ways.
The ‘main feature’ of the night, though, was the State of the City Address presented by Litman. With his 25-minute speech came a reality check that some residents may desperately need. He began by pointing out what Mesquite has to offer: minimal traffic, clean streets, low crime (and high-solve) rates, lack of pollution and anything within Mesquite is reachable with just a few minutes. “It’s often hard to put into words what’s so unique about Mesquite, but we all know it and feel it,” he stated.
Litman then reminded the community that maintenance and upkeep are an essential part of keeping things pleasant and useable, which can create challenges. Especially when it impacts the budget.
“As you know, a reliable infrastructure is part of the solution if we are to be part of a thriving local economy… we are not thriving, but we are not dying,” he said.
He went on to explain that although the economy in Mesquite has been rocky, improvements are taking place, slowly but surely, and reminding others that nothing happens overnight. In essence, he acknowledged that while this council and this mayor did not create the ‘mess’ with where the city is financially, it is their duty to do all they can to fix it. “We cannot pass the buck to the next generation, the next council or the next mayor.”
Litman continued his speech approaching areas of concern that some residents have approached him with. The biggest one being the fact that the City of Mesquite is home to three bargaining units (unions). “It’s a fact. They are not going away. They were chosen by our employees a long time ago and we need to learn to live with them.” He cited concerns from the public that employees are ‘overpaid and under-worked’ and reminded everyone that “they are the backbone of this city” and do their jobs well. “We cannot risk losing them to Las Vegas, St. George or somewhere else,” he added.
There were some positive aspects to Litman’s speech, including the fact that the population has increased by about 8% over the past two years and the city’s revenues are up. However, so are expenses. His resolution for this is for everyone to work together. To think outside of the box and come to an agreement of what Mesquite really wants to be when it ‘grows up’. “We must get away from the thought process that bigger is better and that more is always better than less, and focus on quality, rather than quantity. Supersized just makes us fat and not necessarily happier.”
“We need a somewhat better balance of residents to business [ratio],” he said. “We need more money to stay in Mesquite when possible. It’s unrealistic to expect major commercial facilities to locate in Mesquite unless our population increases dramatically. I not only do not see this happening, but I’m not sure this is a majority of what we want.”
Litman continued to urge residents to decide what it is they really want from the community and to keep an open mind about it all. It’s a decision that needs to be made rather soon so that things can be done that will benefit the city overall.
In his closing, Litman stated that he is not anti-growth, but that we need to look at the bigger picture with a realistic microscope. “Our growth must be intelligently planned and not in desperation.”
The reaction from the attendees was a standing ovation, already a step in the right direction for a positive-thinking Mesquite.