by Meg Smith
MONROE, La. (KNOE 8 News)--Monroe Mayor Jamie Mayo gave his annual progress report on the city Tuesday afternoon. While the mayor pointed to dozens of accomplishments in 2010, he's looking ahead to challenges in 2011, including a police budget shortfall and recruiting new businesses. A new civic arena is one of the mayor's goals and challenges.
Hundreds of citizens and community leaders listened as Mayor Jamie Mayo spoke about dozens of accomplishments the city made in 2010.
An average of 12 new businesses a month opened here in the year just past, and the mayor will focus on economic development as his top goal in 2011.
"We want to work on expanding companies like CenturyLink and Chase, but we're also working with the state on several new projects," Mayor Mayo said.
A mandated increase in the Monroe police pension fund is now requiring city to pay 14% more in funding each year. Mayo says taxpayers will make up the $1.3 million budget shortfall, but made this assurance:
"There will be no new taxes," Mayo said. "We'll do what we have to do within the budget."
The mayor is proud of beautification efforts. The city tore down a record number of dilapidated buildings and houses, and he wants to tear down even more this year.
After questions over management and money, the mayor feels the Monroe Civic Center is back on track. It was host to more than 300 events last year.
One of the mayor's biggest goals for 2011 is to kick off a feasibility study that would look into building a new arena. Ideally, it would seat 10,000 to 12,000 people, and would put us on the same playing field as Shreveport.
Making improvements and upgrades to the city's water treatment plant are also goals.
"We really need to address our dilapidated water treatment plant and also the water lines," Mayor Mayo said. "We have good water, but there are challenges in the water treatment plant."
The mayor ended his speech with a challenge to residents to get more involved in community service.
The mayor is also hoping to begin a feasibility study this year that looks at creating a citywide recycling program.