During my recent State of the City address, I had a chance to highlight some of the achievements of our dedicated City staff. While State of the City is an ideal time to talk about big milestones and challenges, I also wanted to bring attention to the day-to-day work that makes Victoria a great place to live.
As an engineer, I like to look at the math behind the story, and our employees’ accomplishments are statistically quite staggering for a city of our size. For example, our Solid Waste employees picked up 29,000 tons of trash, recycling and other waste in the past year—that’s more than 850 pounds per person!
Did you know that our Public Works department maintains 326 miles of City streets and repaired 32,400 potholes in the past year? In addition to this routine maintenance, the City will spend $25.36 million on street projects next fiscal year as part of our mission to repair Victoria’s most troubled roadways.
Our library hosts a variety of programs for residents who want to learn and have fun. In the past year, our library staff offered 413 programs to nearly 25,000 attendees and helped more than 130,000 visitors in total. We are currently developing a library strategic plan that will guide us as we upgrade our library so they can continue providing excellent service to their patrons.
Our city’s growth is reflected in the work of our Development Services department, which issued 19 commercial building permits, 174 single-family home permits and 4415 construction permits in the past year. This new development has added $76.8 million to our tax roll—good news for the City’s budget and for our taxpayers.
Our Economic Development department and Victoria Main Street Program have been working hard to attract new businesses—like Murdoch’s Ranch and Home Supply, which is moving into the former Sears space. The Main Street Program facilitated $2.4 million in public and private investment this year, bringing eight new or expanded businesses and 29 new jobs.
Public safety services account for more than half of our budget, and it is money well spent. Our police department this year achieved an 8.2% reduction in crime and a 10.45% faster response to calls. Efficient, data-driven use of resources has helped the department achieve these results in spite of staffing shortages (a common problem that police departments face nowadays).
Our fire department has also achieved significant improvement through its innovative programs. For example, a few years ago they became one of 15 EMS providers in the nation to offer whole blood transfusions in the field; the department now boasts an 89% survival rate for patients who need this type of critical care.
Our Municipal Court is also a trendsetter when it comes to new programs. The court was one of 12 in the nation to shift to a hybrid model during the pandemic, and this option continues to be useful for residents who have trouble attending court in person. The court also serves hard-to-reach residents through its outreach dockets, which have helped it resolve 217 cases since April.
These are just a few of the accomplishments I shared during my speech, in addition to initiatives such as improving access to broadband internet; expanding budget-friendly housing; and, of course, Victoria’s upcoming bicentennial celebration. To view the full State of the City address as well as the slides from my presentation, visit www.victoriatx.gov/stateofthecity.
Jeff Bauknight is the mayor of the City of Victoria.