On April 13, the City Council reorganized for the coming year. As our council representatives were sworn in, I couldn't help but reflect on the past year. It goes without saying that it was a year of challenges. Yet from each of these experiences I feel our community has emerged stronger, more united and better prepared for the future.
One of the most positive experiences of this past year was the public input and participation that came out of our Round Table Discussions. From this series of public meetings, the Council and I came away with a clear view of our citizens' priorities, which assisted us as we made some very significant decisions.
The Round Table Discussions and the public debate regarding the future of our community led to the voters approving the one-cent sales tax which, coupled with the Council's commitment to reduce municipal property tax rates by 21 percent, created a win-win situation for all the residents of Sikeston. With the collection of these sales tax revenues in the coming years, the city will obtain the funding needed to address our priorities of improving both the quality and availability of Sikeston's housing stock through the operations of the Land Clearance Redevelopment Authority, expanding Department of Public Safety operations and working with Southeast Missouri State University to expand classroom facilities at the Sikeston Area Higher Education Center.
In regard to legislative accomplishments, the Council has adopted a strict, no-tolerance property maintenance code.
This bill was a cooperative effort with input coming from our citizens, Council, Code Enforcement staff and Municipal Court officials. I have no doubt that we will be able to eliminate existing and prevent future health and safety hazards created by tall grass and weeds, abandoned vehicles and accumulations of junk and trash. Owners, as well as tenants, are now being held accountable for the condition of their property. These actions coupled with the efforts of the LCRA will allow us to restore our neighborhoods and provide Sikeston's residents with quality, affordable housing.
In closing, our community has come a long way in the past year. We are poised at the threshold with all of the elements in place for Sikeston to grow and prosper. A new day is dawning in our community.