Mayor Reed: ‘The State of the City is Strong’
Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed announces expansion of Centers of Hope program; cites public safety improvements and city’s strong financial outlook during his annual State of the City business breakfast on Wednesday.
Mayor Kasim Reed highlighted his administration’s many accomplishments over the past three years and outlined his vision for the future of Atlanta Wednesday during his annual State of the City business breakfast.
In a 40-minute speech attended by more than 900 business and community leaders at the Atlanta Marriott Marquis, Reed focused on significant gains in public safety, economic development and the city’s financial stability. Reed also announced that the Centers of Hope initiative will open two additional recreation centers this year.
“While I am never satisfied because there is always more work to be done, I can stand here for the first time since I have had the pleasure of giving this address and state proudly and confidently that the state of the city is strong,” Reed said.
Reed announced that two additional recreation centers will be transformed into Centers of Hope this year – Pittman and Ben Hill Recreation Centers. During his first year in office, Reed reopened every single one of the city’s 33 recreation centers, many of which had been closed due to budget constraints. He then made his vision for the Centers of Hope – safe, structured after-school environments where young people can study, play and learn strong character skills – a reality through two pilot programs at Thomasville and Adamsville recreation centers.
The programs serve more than 900 children every week. Strong corporate partners including The Coca-Cola Company, Turner Broadcasting and Wells Fargo have contributed more than $4 million to this initiative.
During his speech, Reed promised to begin addressing the city’s $922 million infrastructure backlog, link the city’s police cameras with Atlanta Public Schools to enhance student safety and present a proposal for employee pay raises.
He also highlighted major accomplishments, including:
• Three years of balanced budgets – with no property tax increases – that resulted in growing the city’s cash reserves from $7.4 million in January 2010 to $126.7 million dollars as audited by KPMG as of June 30, 2012;
• Resolution of the city’s looming pension crisis, thereby addressing a $1.5 billion unfunded liability and saving the city more than $270 million over the next 10 years and $500 million over the next 30 years;
• Recruitment of more than 700 new police officers for a force of more than 1,940 on way to a goal of 2,000, making the Atlanta Police Department the biggest law enforcement agency in the state of Georgia and the largest sized force in the city’s history;
• Affirmation from Moody’s Investors Service on the City of Atlanta’s Aa2 rating and its outlook to “stable” from “negative” on its $211.4 million in outstanding general obligation bonds and $184.5 million in contractual obligations;
• Further development and expansion of the Atlanta BeltLine, which since 2010 has acquired 4.5 miles of new trails, four new parks totaling more than 30 acres, remediated nearly 80 acres of contaminated land and committed funding to more than 120 affordable housing units. To date, the Atlanta BeltLine has garnered more than $41 million in private support and was named as one of the best transportation projects in the nation by the Sierra Club in 2012;
• Opening the Maynard H. Jackson Jr. International Terminal at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, the world’s busiest passenger airport for the 15th year in a row with more than 95 million passengers. The 1.2 million square-foot sleek and modern terminal features 12 gates on Concourse F and has already become an iconic city landmark; and
• Launching the city’s economic development agency, Invest Atlanta, which last year had 35 project wins, facilitated the creation of 2,024 direct and 1,292 indirect/induced jobs, and attracted over $700 million in private sector capital. Additionally, the agency attracted $66 million in capital investment from private investors to launch two new housing initiatives which have already enabled 150 families to purchase homes in the city.
"We are the ones who are here right now,” said Reed. “What decisions are we going to be able to point to that were transformational in terms of the trajectory of Atlanta, so that we can walk around with a comfort and ease when we have passed the baton to the next generation of leaders? My simple request of everybody who is in this room today is that Atlanta and our region should always be in the posture of choosing the future. Choose the future."
This year's breakfast was sponsored by the Atlanta Committee for Progress and The Coca-Cola Company. Muhtar Kent, Chairman and CEO of The Coca-Cola Company, served as host.
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