Litman predicted difficulties ahead with the city’s budget based on “probable reductions in property tax increases, both residential and commercial.”
In an upbeat yet cautionary voice, Mesquite Mayor Al Litman laid out his vision of both the past and future of the community in his annual State of the City address Tuesday night, Feb. 9.
Referencing what he called a “bright future ahead” Litman proclaimed at the beginning of his 20-minute speech that “I can’t promise you a Faraday Future, I can’t give us a Tesla, no Ikea store, no Amazon distribution center, no Home Depot, and Trader Joe’s is just a dream.”
Invoking Charles Dickens, Litman described the best of times and the worst of times for Mesquite throughout its history. After arriving at the present, he referenced the city’s master plan, listing key goals he said would help residents understand “what we want to be” as a community.
“Our master plan translates our community goals and values into realistic policies and action programs that will guide decisions about new growth and development,” Litman said. Among the key goals he listed were maintaining the scenic, small town character of the community, establishing high-quality standards for all commercial development, and a stable economy focused on business, tourism, and clean industry.
Litman said building permits issued by the city have more than doubled since 2011 pointing to a return to growth stalled by the recession. “We are on track towards becoming an economic growth city again,” he said cautioning against the “unchecked growth we had pre-recession that left us with so many empty commercial buildings and boarded up new spec homes.”
Citing the recent uptick in commercial and industrial work in Mesquite, Litman pointed to the I-15 Exit 118 interchange under construction saying “our road to nowhere will have a place to go.”
“The rebirth of the Rising Star Sports Ranch will do nothing but good for Mesquite and the Sandhill corridor. Projects by the Lee family have always enhanced our community,” Litman said in reference to the current renovation of the moribund hotel on the east side of the city.
He also pointed to several business projects underway throughout the city including improvements at the Solstice Motor Home Resort park near the hospital, an RV service center coming into the Mesquite Technology and Commerce Center, a new home for Star Nursery rumored to be moving to a location on Mesquite Boulevard, and an expansion of Deep Roots Medical marijuana production and dispensary.
“More jobs, more income, more tax dollars,” the mayor said. “Sun City continues to grow. Other well-designed home developments have started or restarted.”
Litman also mentioned the budding workforce development program that’s working in concert with Mesquite Regional Business Inc., College of Southern Nevada, and the Mesquite Chamber of Commerce “to create the needed synergy that will position Mesquite for our future development.”
Describing the proposed 16,000 square foot, $7 million new library destined for Mesquite Boulevard, Litman said “a performing arts center would complement the library. It might be a dream right now, but dreams can come true if we want something bad enough.”
After all the upbeat talk, Mayor Litman laid out a problematic future for city operations and budget. He explained that the city “must start hiring [employees] again. In not doing so, we walk a tightrope of trying to balance the budget, providing services, and a growing population.”
Without giving specifics, he referenced the ongoing negotiations, and now arbitration, with the rank-and-file employee union saying “the outcome, when reached, can have far-reaching consequences on our fiscal future.”
Litman predicted difficulties ahead with the city’s budget based on “probable reductions in property tax increases, both residential and commercial.” About 70 percent of the city’s revenues come from state consolidated taxes (C-tax) and property taxes which the mayor said “the fiscal year 2017 forecast for both of them is looking flatter than recent experience.”
He made vague references to a new source of revenue that “would not place a burden on residents.” Last year Litman introduced a new local five percent tax on retail liquor sales but later pulled it from consideration when he said all the details were not yet in place.
Litman also joined other residents in calling for a new high school gymnasium and more local control over Mesquite’s schools saying “our needs are far different than Las Vegas.”
“We must retain our quality of life and not sacrifice it for uncontrolled growth for growth’s sake,” the mayor said in conclusion. “There is a lot of work ahead of us. We can and will succeed. A positive attitude goes a long way. We must remember our past, look to the future and leave this a better place than when we got here.”