Superior Mayor Dave Ross touts city’s growth in ‘09Despite the financial challenges of 2009, Superior Mayor Dave Ross painted a bright picture of his community’s progress during his State of the City address Tuesday night.
By: By Peter Passi, Duluth News Tribune , Superior Telegram
Despite the financial challenges of 2009, Superior Mayor Dave Ross painted a bright picture of his community’s progress during his State of the City address Tuesday night.
Ross pointed to more than $33 million in investments that nine local businesses decided to make in Superior during the past year, noting that despite the recession, the city’s equalized property value climbed 4.9 percent in 2009. Ross said the performance rendered Superior “No. 2 among principal cities in the entire state for that kind of growth.”
Superior’s accomplishments are gaining notice, according to its mayor, who remarked: “In an era when cities are struggling to hang onto their existing bond ratings, Superior’s rating increased again in 2009 for the second time within the year from ‘AA minus’ to ‘AA.’ The rating increase reflects our continued financial strength.”
Mark Androsky, a Superior businessman and owner of Stadium Towing, said he’s pleased the city has mostly held the line on taxes, with the 2010 levy scheduled to increase just 1.66 percent from last year’s level, and continued progress toward reducing municipal debt.
“Little by little, we’re chipping away and moving in a positive direction,” he said. “Rome wasn’t built in a day.”
David Minor, president and CEO of the Superior-Douglas County Chamber of Commerce, the event’s sponsor, said the address drew more than 160 people to the Superior Middle School, an unprecedented crowd for the speech.
“I think it’s valuable for people to get together as a community to learn what’s going on,” Minor said.
Minor said Superior is emerging from 2009 in remarkably stable condition, but he observed this may be due to the fact that the community never saw the same kind of economic boom some other cities did.
Marty Curtiss, chairman of the Superior Landlord Association Program and a former City Council candidate, concurred. “It’s sad to say, but Superior’s economy is so bad that we don’t get hit as hard when there’s an economic downturn.”
Curtiss offered a generally positive review of the mayor’s speech. “It would have been nice if he had picked out at least a couple of areas where we still need to make improvements.”
He noted that some city offices, including those providing fire inspection services, still could make significant strides to be more responsive and user-friendly.
“After all, Superior’s new slogan is: Living up to our name,” he said.
Ross singled out the city’s police department for special praise Tuesday, citing the accomplishments of narcotics, canine and investigative units.
The mayor also announced the pending launch of a new Forensic Technology Task Force in conjunction with the Douglas County Sheriff’s Department.
“This half-a-million-dollar project will bring training, equipment and shared knowledge to the complicated matter of recovering forensic technology evidence,” he said. “Especially in relation to Internet crimes against children, the SPD is taking a proactive approach that is certain to become a national model.”
Police Chief Floyd Peters expects the initiative to get off the ground with the help of federal money.
“We’re trying not just to be a reactive agency that responds to ongoing problems and issues of crime. That will always be an important part of what we do. But with all the might we possess, we’re trying to be a more proactive agency that’s working to prevent crime and disorder,” he said.
Ross also hailed another new and innovative initiative in progress at the city landfill.
“The city has completed the construction of a methane gas collection system and companion flare,” he said. “This system collects methane gas generated by the decomposition of municipal waste and combusts it, breaking it down to carbon dioxide, which is many times less harmful to the environment than the release of methane gas.”
Ross said the city has been able to document the benefits of its new system and is now beginning to sell carbon credits on the open market. It’s another way the mayor sees the city moving forward.