Tuesday, Jan. 13, 2009 | 9:18 p.m.
Mayor Oscar Goodman was upbeat and optimistic in his State of the City address Tuesday night, saying city-funded projects would create "a needed bridge through economic downturn until the private sector recovers."
Goodman listed a new city hall and the Smith Center for the Performing Arts as government efforts to create jobs and stimulate the local economy. He also encouraged the private sector to push forward with retail, hotel and gaming projects.
"We're going to rise again and we're going to recover faster than any other city and make Las Vegas an even better place to live and to dream," he said.
Projects completed in 2008 such as the Centennial Hills Community Center and renovation of the Fifth Street School, where the mayor gave his speech, show the city has the record to become an economic engine.
"With the downturn in construction we're able to get better prices today for public construction than we've seen in many years," Goodman said. "We're going to do our best to keep putting projects on the street that create construction jobs. We're going to do our best to help developers build projects that generate full-time jobs."
While the city continues to cut operating costs to offset a $150 million shortfall during the next five years, it would have to rely more on bonds than proposed federal funding to keep projects on track, Goodman said after his speech.
"Federal funds don't hurt but what we have to do is get the private sector's bonding sources back in action. Once we are able to fund our projects with bonds, we've been very successful in the past in doing that," he said.
The city will be receiving about $20.6 million in federal funds to purchase foreclosed properties and use them for affordable housing.
The city also will encourage the private sector to finish projects such as Tivoli Village at Queensridge, which developers announced will be delayed until spring 2010 -- one year later than planned -- because of the uncertain economy.
"We're going to encourage the private sector to participate in getting their projects off the ground. We're going to be of assistance to them," Goodman said. "They give our citizens jobs they create energy in a community."
In his speech, Goodman praised efforts to revitalize older east-side and downtown neighborhoods, attributing the turnaround in part to Councilwoman Lois Tarkanian's "Keep Everyone's Eyes on the Neighborhood" program.
"That has reduced crime. It has created a sense of community as a very, very special social project," he said.
Other accomplishments in 2008 that Goodman checked off included the opening of phase two of the Teton Trails Park in the northwest part of the city and the creation of the traffic court commissioner position, which collected $717,000 in fines last year.
Jeff Pope can be reached at 990-2688 or firstname.lastname@example.org