Feb. 7, 2018 – On Feb. 5, Florence Mayor Joe Henry presented the State of the City for 2017 before swearing in new councilor Woody Woodbury during the Florence City Council meeting.
City Manager Erin Reynolds introduced Henry, saying he is serving his second term as mayor.
“We are excited to present to you tonight, through his speech, the achievements from 2017 and what’s to come in 2018,” Reynolds said.
The mayor’s speech looked at the City of Florence’s five goals and where the city expects to go in the future. Under Goal No. 1, City Service Delivery, Henry said that more than 90 percent of the city’s budget goes to operating city services.
“City services are necessary, and the guys who work on them in the Public Works department don’t always get a lot of credit,” Henry said.
Highlights under this goal included the completion of the Public Works Facility, the beginning of construction on the Florence City Hall Remodel and Expansion, improvements to the Justice Center Round Room, the creation of the School Resource Officer position and upgrades to the 911 system. In addition, Public Works replaced water lines on Highway 101 and finished the Rhododendron Drive roadway, shoulder expansion and water improvements.
The city’s second goal is Livability and Quality of Life, with Henry thanking the area’s numerous volunteers for their hours of work in promoting city events and services.
Henry listed that the city received grant funding for park improvements, including a grant for $390,000 that will go to developing athletic resources at Miller Park; created the Housing and Economic Opportunities Project (HEOP); streamlined development applications; worked to improve transportation options; banned the use of styrofoam; and updated the Florence Events Center’s sound and lighting thanks to the Friends of the Events Center and a matching grant from Oregon Cultural Trust.
In addition, in 2017 Florence was named the 24th U.S. Coast Guard City, just in time for Coast Guard Station Siuslaw River’s 100th birthday in December.
Economic Development is Goal No. 3, and it has been a stated goal for the city for several years.
“This is one of my favorite goals,” Henry said. “As our economy continues to grow, activity has picked up, as evidenced by an increase in both residential and commercial construction around town.”
He counted the sale of lots in the Pacific View Business Park as successes.
“We have a really nice little airport out here surrounded by about 25 lots to the north that are all ready for business and zoned commercial and industrial. One of those major successes is Top Hydraulics, which sort of broke the ice for us in the business park,” Henry said.
Top Hydraulics held a ribbon cutting on Feb. 2 to celebrate passing its final inspection on the building where it manufactures parts for convertible vehicles.
In addition, Siuslaw Broadband, doing business as Hyak, is using the business park as the hub for its fiber-optic high-speed internet pilot project.
“In the next months, you’ll see some very exciting things happen in the City of Florence that will support all of the three legs of economic development, which are workforce, jobs and housing,” Henry said. “We went for a number of years without working on any of those in our community, so it’s really difficult to work on all three of those at the same time. You want to create jobs, but you have no workers or housing for them. I think we’re making progress on all three fronts.”
Goal No. 4, Communication and Trust, showed that the city is becoming more accessible and user-friendly with a new fulltime IT manager, a new city website at ci.florence.or.us and increased social media presence on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Vimeo. In addition, the city has a monthly newsletter to show current projects.
“We’ve made great strides in improving that communication and level of trust where people in our community feel they can go to the city. The city can’t always give us everything we want as citizens, it simply can’t do it, but people can come away thinking, ‘At least they tried to help me accomplish my goal,’” Henry said.
He also said that success in communication is due to the city’s media partners — Coast Radio, KXCR and Siuslaw News locally, as well as with TV stations in Eugene and Portland — and renewed relationships with regional partners.
Financial and Organizational Stability is Goal No. 5.
Along with continuing its sustainable long-term financial position, the city also adopted a biennial budget and new work plan, hired several new positions and looked into system development charges and utility rates to decrease barriers to development.
“We’ve made great progress there,” Henry said. “We’ve accomplished an awful lot without having to go to the ballot for any new taxes. This has been done through good financial management and working as a team with the council and staff.”
Henry thanked both the members of the city council and staff for working together in 2017, and said 2018 will see more work on each of the five goals as well as other topics of interest to residents.
“We have a housing issue in our community,” Henry said. “I don’t like to refer to it as a ‘crisis,’ but it is an issue, especially in the range of affordable housing. You will find as we go through the next few months that we are working hard to address that on several fronts.”
Henry also said that the reason the city didn’t hold a larger State of the City Address this year is because the Jan. 3 reception for the Small Business Revolution team was so successful.
“I was so proud that nearly 700 people turned up to show what our city is all about,” Henry said. “These people were excited and supportive of our community — and what could be a better example of the state of our city?”
For people hoping to promote Florence’s bid to become the next featured city on “Small Business Revolution — Main Street,” a webseries on Hulu, keep an eye on the city’s Facebook page and other social media. The final five are set to be announced Feb. 13. At that point, the winner of “Main Street” season three and the recipient of $500,000 for its small businesses will be determined by a popular vote. If Florence makes it into the top five towns, people will be asked to vote online for their favorite town.
“The success we have experienced has only been achieved by working with our local, county, regional and state partners,” Henry said. “You will see our dream is no longer a dream, but is instead a daily reality that has turned into action and results. Today I am pleased to tell you that we can truly say that we are ‘A City in Motion.’”
To watch Henry’s State of the City Address, as well as the city’s other videos, visit ci.florence.or.us. Videos normally get posted within one week.