Attendees at the Mesquite Chamber of Commerce on Feb. 8 luncheon saw Mayor Allan Litman present his annual State of the City address, the only time he would present his point of view in the yearly tradition.
In past years, he and other mayors had also given the speech at a selected city council meeting. Citing poor turnouts at council meetings, Litman believed presenting his address at the luncheon was a more favorable option.
His speech started as many do, with moments of praise and accolades to the various departments that keep Mesquite running as a well-oiled machine. Even with budget cuts last year, Litman noted this past budget was structurally balanced, something that “was not easy to achieve and caused many spending cuts to all departments. Due to astute skills, no one lost their job. Hopefully 2017 will go as well.”
Some of Litman’s goals for this year include rebuilding the staff in the departments that are currently working with one or two people while still keeping the budget relatively balanced. “I will not ask for any cuts in any departments,” he said. “We have cut enough, it is time to rebuild… The state of our city is stronger than ever.”
He went on to explain that while Mesquite has not fully recovered from the financial collapse experienced in 2008 and 2009, it is further from the financial cliff than it has been ever since. Litman credited this achievement to the city employees who have worked tirelessly to keep Mesquite afloat. “It doesn’t mean the work stops. The road to complete recovery can only be built by sustained efforts and disciplined spending plans that balance our need to restore service levels and our need to protect our financial reserves.”
As he continued his address, Litman emphasized what makes Mesquite so unique in comparison to other small cities around Nevada and those found in other states. Stemming from the common suggestion that Mesquite bring in boxed stores and outlets that are found in areas with a population two to three times the size of Mesquite, Litman says that Mesquite must not lose its identity. “We as a city are starting to become more indicative of a suburban sprawl… others often lose their identity. We should not let this happen,” he said. “Authentic community can still exist as it has less to do with the design of a place and more to do with its residents and their attitude.”
With that, he began to caution the community that improvement and expansion must be done properly in order for things to be successful. “It is very difficult to change our mistakes and miscalculations. It is our responsibility to do it right the first time.”
Litman used the example of a proposal made several years ago to build a truck stop in the middle of town, where the Rising Star Sports Ranch now stands. “We would have been on the way to bringing irreversible damage to Mesquite by doing that,” he said. “Look what we have now on that site and what it will do for Mesquite.”
On a more positive note, Litman pointed out things that have recently been completed that will help Mesquite continue to grow properly. Projects included the opening of Exit 118 and special incentives the city will give to businesses for developing in that area; Deep Roots Medical and their buildings; a new city cemetery that is being built in stages; a new weather operating system at the Mesquite Airport; a new truck stop breaking ground at the new exit soon; and a new RV repair center preparing their groundwork for a nearly 80,000 square foot facility. Litman also noted that natural gas access in Mesquite may be closer than initially thought as meetings continue with Southwest Gas.
Litman said business growth wouldn’t be as positive without the creation of Mesquite Regional Business in 2012. “Mesquite as a city has never been overly successful in developing and bringing business in,” Litman said. “It takes a specially trained staff to do this.” Coupling the success with MRB and adding in the newest tool for job seekers, Mesquite Works, the city is expected to continue its upward climb to sustainability and success.
The growth has been population-related as well. “In 2016, the City of Mesquite issued 246 permits for single family residences, the highest number since 2007.” Estimating that each of those permits equaled two people, Mesquite’s estimated growth would be around 500 for the year. “Mesquite is Southern Nevada’s fastest growing city,” he said.
Improvements over the next year on Litman’s list include hiring more personnel for the Mesquite Fire Department, which has often been noted as being understaffed. “This city must employ more personnel in this critical need area. Yes, it’s expensive, but human lives count more than money. We must be proactive, not reactive, when the safety and well-being of our residents and visitors could be in harm’s way.”
He also insisted that additional staffing be made in other departments such as in code enforcement, building inspections, clerk’s office and human resources. Litman plans on requesting the increased staffing through council in the coming months.
In closing, Litman made an official statement on the submission of the City’s Charter to the state legislature. “A Charter City designation gives us more control over our destiny,” he said. “We have operated well under the general law designation, but assuming we receive the charter, we will be able to spell out the final details.”
If the charter is approved by the state lawmakers, it will go into effect on July 1. Since incorporation in 1984, Mesquite has been bound to Nevada Revised Statute 266, which limits the power that a city has over its structure and operation.
Mayor Litman’s full speech can be found on the city’s website, www.mesquitenv.gov.