ST. GEORGE – Mayor Jon Pike gave his second State of the City address at the St. George Area Chamber of Commerce’s luncheon Wednesday and shared aspects of the city’s plans for the coming year.
“We want some good, healthy, steady growth,” Pike said, echoing sentiments from the recent What’s Up Down South Economic Summit. The city and county has been experiencing steady yet consistent growth for the past three years. He said that type of growth is easier to plan for. It also shows the city has rebounded since the Great Recession.
“I like where we are,” Pike said.
To watch videocast, click play arrow in center of image at top of this story
Pike reflected on actions implemented in the last year related to transparency and strategic planning.
After taking office, Pike moved regular City Council meetings from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. in an effort to get more people to attend. He also implemented an open public comment period held at the first council meeting of each month during which residents can address the council directly.
Last year, the City Council held a strategic planning meeting that ran for approximately 12 hours, Pike said. This year, he said, the planning meeting is being held at the Dixie Center St. George, 1835 Convention Center Drive in St. George, from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., Feb 12., with a public comment period likely following afterward. The public is invited and encouraged to attend.
“We’re really building the plan for the next five-to-10 years on the horizon,” Pike said.
Once elements of the strategic planning are brought together, the mayor said, they will be posted to the city’s website for public access and review.
Part of the strategic planning, Pike said, includes the city’s branding as a way to best determine, “Who are we?” and “What are we about?” City officials are currently working with a branding company to accomplish that end.
“We’ll be trying to communicate who we are and what you can expect from us as a part of our branding and a part of our strategic plan,” he said, adding the branding efforts will be seen in coming months over social media.
The mayor also provided a glimpse of the many transportation projects the city is currently working on and will in the near future, which include: widening Indian Hills Drive, providing a connection between Little Valley and the Fort Pierce Industrial Park, and widening the River Road Bridge.
A major transportation project being undertaken by the Utah Department of Transportation is the Bluff Street and Sunset Boulevard Interchange. UDOT originally planned to put a “jug handle” at the intersection that wasn’t received well by area residents and business owners. After reviewing public comments and other factors, UDOT is considering an alternative to the proposed jug handle configuration.
Both the city’s and UDOT’s current and future road projects will be featured at the upcoming Dixie Regional Transportation Expo Feb. 10 at the Dixie Center, Pike said.
“Educational growth is also a huge thing for us,” the mayor said, speaking of the Dixie Applied Technology College’s anticipated move to the Ridge Top Complex.
DXATC is currently waiting on funding from the Legislature for a $45 million building project that will house its campus, Pike said.
It is anticipated DXATC will serve as the “anchor tenet” of a 200-plus acre business and technology park city officials have in mind for the hilltop property that housed the old municipal airport.
Continuing on education, Pike touched on the recently approved measure to sell Elk’s Field to the Washington County School District. It will allow the school district to replace the aging East Elementary School on 700 East with a new, two-story school in downtown St. George. In turn, this will eventually allow Dixie State University to purchase the East Elementary property and expand its campus.
“We’re excited, because it separates the issue from the Sunbowl,” Pike said. City officials are looking to use the Dixie Sunbowl on a much more regular basis and also implement repairs and improvements as possible. As a part of this goal, Pike said, a semipro football team called the Zion Lions is already looking at using the Sunbowl for its games.
The team held its first practice at the Sunbowl last Saturday and is scheduling nine games for the springtime, he said.
The Sunbowl is a potential recipient for the city’s portion of the recently passed, countywide Recreation, Arts and Parks tax, or RAP tax. The county projects an annual tax revenue of $2.2 million that will be distributed across the county municipalities based on population and points of sale over the next 10 years.
St. George is slated to get $1.3 million of that revenue, Pike said.
The city will likely use two-thirds of the funds for bonds that will be applied to recreation and park projects. The remaining third will be applied to the arts and arts groups. If tax revenue dips along the way, the remaining third will also provide the city with a way to cover bond payments.
While money from the RAP tax may be applied to projects like the Sunbowl, Electric Theater and All Abilities Park, another way the city helps fund those projects is through the sale of city property, Pike said.
He pointed to the sale of property behind the Dixie Center where construction on an incoming hotel will soon begin.
“Where we can, we will trade or sell an asset to gain an asset,” he said. “We will then take that money and apply it into something like an All Abilities Park or an Electric Theater project so it’s not necessarily coming out of the general revenue and it’s not resulting in a tax increase.”
For KCSG and St. George News, Melissa Anderson contributed the videocast attached to this report.
- Transportation Expo covers roads, trails, public transit issues in Utah’s Dixie
- Attendees at economic summit positive about future; businesses, projects showcased
- Governor proposes $14.4 billion budget, includes DXATC building funds
- City breaks ground on All Abilities Park; ‘an outpouring of love’; STGnews Videocast
- City approves sale of Elks Field as possible elementary school site
- On the EDge: Save the Sunbowl
- Dixie Sunbowl could get new neighbor if property sale goes through
- Pike reflects on 2014, sees new year as one for parks, recreation project
- County Commission bids farewell to Eardley, implements RAP tax
- Let’s rap about tax, RAP tax that is
- City approves $3 million bid for Electric Theater restoration
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