Wednesday, Sept. 4, 2013 | 2 a.m.
Every summer, Brian Greenspun turns over his Where I Stand column to guest writers for several weeks. Today’s guest is Henderson Mayor Andy Hafen.
As Henderson celebrates 60 years as a city, who would have thought six decades ago that one day we would be Nevada’s second largest city and one of the premier communities in the nation?
As we commemorate our 60th anniversary, we recognize that the city we know is a testament to a vision that began long ago.
The wonderful community we enjoy today is the result of hard work and dedication on the part of our residents and leaders who have served countless hours to help create one of the best places to live in America.
When you look at our accomplishments, it is an impressive list. And when you consider that we’ve done it while living next door to one of the most famous cities in the world, those accomplishments take on an added level of achievement.
We’ve been recognized three times in the past 10 years as one of America’s best places to live. We’ve been listed as one of the best places in America to retire, ranked as the second safest city in America and one of the best places to start a business.
We’ve had our bumps in the road to be sure, but when you take risk and innovate as we’ve tried to, there are bound to be setbacks. But one thing we’ve always tried to do is learn from our mistakes, make changes and improve. That’s been a great recipe for success for us in the past and will be important for us as we move forward with our vision for the future.
That vision involves making sure that Henderson remains a great place for all who choose to make their home here to thrive and enjoy a premier quality of life.
It means we will continue to focus on education. We need to support our schools at all levels and bring in new and exciting educational opportunities such as our private medical schools, Touro University or Roseman University.
Education is key to building an educated workforce, and the more we can support that area, the further ahead we will be as we work to achieve our vision for the future.
We need to continue pursuing quality economic development and redevelopment opportunities. There is tremendous potential in areas such as the downtown Water Street District to energize our economy.
As we reinvest in our maturing areas and invest in new opportunities such as our Limited Transition Area near the Henderson Executive Airport, we will create new jobs that invigorate our economy and make us economically sustainable.
Our vision includes expanding health care opportunities. Quality health care is essential to maintain our quality of life, and our vision involves attracting new and emerging technologies and health care options to support our residents’ quality of life.
A big part of sustaining and improving that quality of life is by maintaining our focus on providing outstanding services, amenities and infrastructure that make living in Henderson so desirable.
To do that, one of the most important things we must do is to adjust to the new economic realities of our society.
Henderson residents get the best value for their money anywhere in the valley. We have the lowest property tax rates in Clark County at 0.71 cents per $100 of assessed valuation. That rate hasn’t changed in 23 years.
However, with the economic downturn, the revenues for city services and infrastructure have decreased by nearly $140 million while our population has increased by more than 10,000 over the same time.
Over the past five years, we’ve seen changes that have caused us to rethink how we do business. We’ve become more efficient and effective in all we do to ensure that despite the economic downturn, the impact has been minimal to our residents.
We’ve been able to cut $127 million from our General Fund budget. We’ve cut more than 16 percent of our non-public-safety workforce and consolidated functions to become more streamlined.
We instituted a hiring freeze and implemented overtime restrictions. We’ve reduced employee benefits, eliminated cost-of-living raises and reduced holidays.
We instituted a citywide classification and compensation study to examine employee pay and to align us better with market conditions.
The most recent step we’ve taken is to appoint a 21-member committee of community leaders and residents to examine our operations. They’ll look at what we’ve done and help provide us with recommendations on future steps to ensure revenues will continue to be there to meet the needs for years to come.
We’re excited to work with the committee. As we work to achieve the city’s vision of creating a vibrant, healthy, sustainable community, we look forward to their input to help us chart our course.
As we celebrate 60 years, we stand at the verge of a vision for the future. We are excited to work with our residents to achieve that vision. We know Henderson is a great community. It is the place in which we’ve chosen to make our lives and raise our families.
Working hand in hand, as we have in the past, we can continue this great legacy of community and success that has defined who we are today and continue to make Henderson a great place to call home.
Andy Hafen is the Henderson mayor.