By Mayor Al Litman
When the Mesquite Local news asked me when I was going to write another Mayor’s Corner article, I said shortly. I later had second thoughts, but after reading the letters to the editor in both our local papers, I decided it was time to write again, especially when my name is mentioned. In addition, I have had many interesting? e-mails recently. They will be for later articles. By the way, I have no intention of offending anyone with what I have to say. Everyone is entitled to his or her opinion, so am I.
I have said Mesquite is having financial problems. It’s fact, the budget numbers don’t lie. What caused these problems is complex and would take more than an article to fully discuss. But that’s not the issue here. The issue is in finding solutions that work, make sense, and of course are legal to implement. As I stated in my State of the City Address, some things we can control, some we can’t. I tend to focus on only what we can.
Lets talk about the Chamber of Commerce. The question was asked why they didn’t put on the job fair we just had? Simple answer; at this point they do not have the financial resources or the staff to do so. Will they be able to in the future/ I don’t know. But I do know they are finally moving in the right direction and hopefully in the recovery mode. New leadership is in place. The city does assist by being a gold member.
Economic development is still the hot topic in Mesquite. The MRBI is still the whipping boy for Mesquite’s economic problems. Nothing new here. Are they the perfect solution to our economic woes? Nope, but they are working in our behalf which is far more that those who do nothing but criticize with no viable solutions. The gentleman who wrote the letter to the editor that I’m currently commenting on states that the city has given MRBI $1,412,000.00 since 2007-2013. I’m a bit confused on this as MRBI has been in existence slightly more that two years and has received exactly $411,66.64. Not a small amount, but about the same if we had kept economic development in-house. Would we save money by returning to that model? Probably, but not much.
I do appreciate suggestions from everyone concerning how to better Mesquite. So, let’s look at the latest suggestions. It’s been suggested that other communities have commercial developers that we should invite to Mesquite that have clients who would like to locate here but probably don’t know about us. Unlikely, but I’ll reserve that for later. Of course, we need to provide local government support. I’m not sure what that means other than economic incentives, which are limited by state law. So to sum up this discussion, it appears we have to give away the farm to get developers to come here. The next question that comes to mind is developers of what? We have numerous empty storefronts in Mesquite. Why do we need more? We have property that is privately owned on Mesquite Blvd, that is unrealistically priced and has been for years. Developers are not interested in paying over market value for Mesquite land. Building for speculation is a thing of the past.
Another issue raised was why the city does not enhance the downtown area. For those relatively new to Mesquite, there never has been a downtown. I reviewed countless photographs of Mesquite Blvd., otherwise known as Highway 91. We have had a few motels, a few scattered stores, a truck stop, and several dairy and other farms located along side the highway. Mixed in were a hospital, and some houses, a coffee shop and a bar. We have made redevelopment money available to those who qualify, but most have not taken advantage of this program.
In the next edition of the Mayor’s Corner, I will continue to talk about some other ideas I have received and try and explain the difference between apples and oranges when people try and compare Mesquite to other communities.