MASON CITY — “Teamwork is up, trouble is down” was the theme of the “State of the City” address by Mason City’s mayor Bill Schickel last night.
“Jobs are up, crime is down. We’ve seen record investment in our infrastructure, and River City is quickly being recognized as the recreation capital of the Midwest. Simply put, River City is booming, ” Schickel says.
Schickel focused on economic growth, highlighted by four nationally prominent businesses having chosen Mason City in the past year. He says those businesses — Old Navy, Five Below, and Ross Dress for Less, as well as the soon to be constructed Chick-Fil-A — are located on State Highway 122 West, which is soon to be improved. “These new businesses are centered on what I call ‘Mason City’s million dollar highway’, Iowa 122 West. Our five year capital improvement plan calls for $125 million in planned projects including the reconstruction and beautification of this major Mason City gateway and US Highway 65 South. These are major doorways to our community scheduled for major improvements. Just imagine these community doorways with beautiful tree plantings, green space, better lighting and pedestrian access.”
Schickel says the city has tried to lower the property tax rate in an attempt to give working families much needed financial relief and economic stability. “On average, Mason City residents saw nearly a 2% drop in their most recent property tax bill. Mason City’s overall budget this year is $82 million, down $14 million from the previous year, largely the result of anticipated completion of major capital improvement projects. By the way, the average annual budget increase in Mason City in the last ten years has been 2%, below the Midwest Consumer Price Index, and well below the State of Iowa budget increase of more than 4% annually.”
Schickel applauded the efforts of improving childcare options in the community, including the creation of a coalition that has come together and raised nearly $1 million in an attempt to give a $2 an hour pay boost for childcare workers. “The number one reason women leave the workforce is the lack of child care options. Starting today, help is on the way. Although area childcare centers have the physical capacity to accept hundreds of more children, a shortage of childcare workers is causing long waiting lists. 44% of child care positions are unfilled in Cerro Gordo County due to vacant staffing positions.”
Schickel credits community partnerships in helping the city’s crime rate drop in the last year. “In Mason City, crime declined significantly over the last year. Data from the Iowa Department of Public Safety shows a 9% drop compared to the previous year. Meanwhile, despite Mason City experiencing the kind of staffing shortages police departments are seeing nationwide, the number of arrests increased by 8% in the same time period. The data shows a five-year trend of decreasing crime in Mason City.”
Schickel will discuss the “State of the City” message more with us during the “Ask the Mayor” program on AM-1300 KGLO this morning starting at about 9:10 AM. Watch last night’s “State of the City” address via the video player below