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state of the city:

Mayor: Henderson doing more with less after cutbacks

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Mona Shield Payne / Special to the Sun

Henderson Mayor Andy Hafen thanks his family for their support during his inaugural State of the City address Wednesday, Feb. 10, at the M Resort in Henderson.

Updated Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2010 | 5:13 p.m.

Henderson Mayor Andy Hafen's State of the City Address

Guests mingle in the foyer as they arrive for Henderson Mayor Andy Hafen's inaugural State of the City address Wednesday, Feb. 10, at M Resort in Henderson. Launch slideshow »

Stressing an economically and environmentally sustainable future -- and the responsible use of city resources -- Henderson Mayor Andy Hafen on Wednesday gave his first State of the City address.

“We’re taking the opportunity to step back from the breakneck growth of the last 20 years to re-evaluate who were are, and where we want to go,” he said during his speech at the M Resort. “We will emerge a better, stronger city.”

During his 28-minute speech, Hafen addressed what he thought made Henderson a strong community, in spite of the recession. He noted that the city has made about $90 million in cuts to its budget.

The city is operating on a 2006 budget with a 2010 population that’s nearly 20,000 residents larger than four years ago, Hafen said.

“We are cutting and scaling back, and doing much more with much less,” he said.

The city reduced its workforce by 15 percent last year, largely using a voluntary severance program that encouraged 102 employees to leave. That program alone saved $35 million, Hafen said.

He said he hoped layoffs wouldn’t be necessary for the city.

Henderson has been recognized by the Government Finance Officers Association as a high-achiever in financial excellence for 27 years, Hafen said.

The city has become a leader in environmental initiatives, Hafen said, boasting its LEED Gold certified North Police Station and solar-powered trash compactors at parks.

Hafen said he hopes to make the city sustainable, which he defined as able to meet the needs of today without sacrificing the needs of future generations.

The mayor encouraged state officials meeting to discuss proposed budget cuts to consider that all jurisdictions in Southern Nevada are facing the same financial problems.

“While we can’t control what the state does, for our part, we want to make sure that we are efficient trustees of the public’s money,” Hafen said.

Click to enlarge photo

Henderson Mayor Andy Hafen delivers his inaugural State of the City address Wednesday, Feb. 10, at the M Resort in Henderson.

The mayor said that Henderson has long been an attractive location for national and international companies. The city is in talks with companies in Korea, Australia, Germany and England about relocating to Henderson, he said.

“We consistently find that one of the most attractive things about Henderson is our sense of community,” he said. “Everything we do is designed to improve the quality of life for those who call Henderson home.”

Hafen made no mention of Lake Las Vegas in his speech. Earlier this week, the Ritz-Carlton Lake Las Vegas announced it would close in May. The Lake Las Vegas development owes the city of Henderson about $25.7 million in financing and assessments.

About 860 people attended the sold-out speech, where they were served steaks, fish and chocolate cake. Tickets were $40.

The Henderson City Council sat onstage with the mayor, as did Henderson City Manager Mark Calhoun and Henderson Chamber of Commerce Chairman of the Board Kirk Clausen, who served as the master of ceremonies.

After the speech, Clausen gave Hafen a gift card on behalf of the Chamber of Commerce – a yearly tradition.

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