It would take a pessimist to spin Mayor Lydia Mihalik’s State of the City speech on Monday into something other than what it was: A glowing report of a city clearly on the upswing.
Her comments were a dose of good news in the midst of a winter which refuses to go away.
The only downside, perhaps, was that Mihalik had to share the spotlight with Gov. John Kasich, who gave his State of the State address in Medina at about the same time she was finishing hers at the Winebrenner Theological Seminary.
Next year, let’s schedule her speech on its own night. It deserves a day of its own.
Regardless, Mihalik’s comments made us feel good about where Findlay is, and where it is headed in 2014. The more distant future doesn’t look too bad, either.
With an improved financial picture, including a $1.6 million general fund surplus, an expanding tax base, a capital improvement budget of $7 million, and recent news that Marathon Petroleum Corp. will be investing $80 million here, Mihalik predicted it would be a year of change.
That could be an understatement.
Findlay’s downtown is expected to undergo a transformation as the city incorporates parking, traffic and safety improvements into the Marathon expansion plans and the $10 million renovation of Central Auditorium.
Much of what the administration hopes to accomplish downtown, and elsewhere in Findlay, will require a high level of collaboration among government, the private sector, the University of Findlay, nonprofits, and other groups.
The downtown renovations, for example, rely on Marathon “giving back” some $5 million in tax incentives so the city can apply them to proposed parking and traffic projects. And needed safety improvements along West Main Cross Street, near the new performing arts center, will involve convincing the Ohio Department of Transportation to be a partner.
And surely, our long-term flood-control goals will be incumbent upon city and county government, Marathon, and others working well together and developing a framework for Findlay’s future.
Mihalik noted the strategic planning which was implemented last year has positioned the city for big-time successes and the city administration is focusing on partnerships to see those successes realized.
There’s no reason to believe they won’t be. At least from our view, and at this point, everyone seems to be on board. It reminds us of the unity between the city, county and schools in 2009 when officials were able to convince voters to support three separate tax issues.
Mihalik, whose 2011 campaign slogan was “Lydia Leads,” seems committed to the team approach. That appears to be a strategy that is working, and working well.
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