Choosing an informal approach, the mayor began by congratulating and thanking his wife, Suzi, for her accomplishments with his Spirit of the Springs initiative, which aims to build and celebrate community. Suzi then gave a small speech of her own, lauding a local high school student who sent hundreds of gift packets to soliders overseas.
Next, the mayor presented the recently retired Steve Cox, who served in a variety of executive positions and was long considered Bach's right-hand man, with a Key to the City. The love kept pouring, with Bach recognizing each member of his executive team.
Finally, Bach got down to business. First, he spoke about the year's accomplishments. Bach described how he stepped in when Council was moving forward with turning Memorial Health System into a nonprofit, and persuaded them to reconsider. Bach stressed that he believed his move had resulted in a better deal for the city — the pending lease with University of Colorado Health. Other accomplishments he highlighted include:
• reseeding parks
• making a deal with the YMCA to reopen city pools
• retaining several primary employers, and contacting over 200 primary employers to show appreciation
• working toward urban renewal in the southeastern part of the city
•switching to zero-based budgeting
• eliminating 37 city positions and putting another 70 "on hold"
• creating the biggest fund balance ever
• fighting the Waldo Canyon Fire
• creating Spirit of the Springs
• creating the Olympic Downtown Celebration
• creating the Mayor's Cup Golf Tournament
• building relationships with other governments
• funding critical safety and road projects
• creating the Solutions Teams to look for answers to pressing city problems
The mayor then thanked City Councilors, saying, "They get paid nothing and they work very, very hard."
Bach next highlighted his plans for the future, noting his strategic plan would be released in October and would included "measurable benchmarks." The most measurable among them is the mayor's goal to create 6,000 jobs a year. He's tasked the Colorado Springs Chamber of Commerce and EDC with that goal — a tough one, considering less than 700 jobs were created last year.
Other "benchmarks" — most notably less "measurable" — include creating more citizen satisfaction, saving money, being the best city of our size, building community, and increasing the number of private sector and nonprofit initiatives.
The mayor saved one of his more controversial goals for last, calling for a community-wide conversation on the fate of Colorado Springs Utilities and the Martin Drake Power Plant, both of which are under Council control. The comment earned applause.
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