Mayor Delivers State of the City Address
Major 2018 achievements include approval of the Cotton Belt Commuter Rail Line, more than 1 million square feet of office space leased, planning efforts for the East Arapaho-Collins Innovation District and other major progress on key initiatives
The City of Richardson annual State of the City Address was held January 30th and featured many significant accomplishments of 2018, as well as the future vision and priorities for moving the community forward in 2019. Mayor Paul Voelker and members of the Richardson City Council delivered the report as part of a free, open-to-the-public event at the Eisemann Center for the Performing Arts and Corporate Presentations.
The event focused on the City’s compelling value proposition and service commitment that positions Richardson as a place where people are proud to live, work, invest and engage in the community. The City’s most significant 2018 achievements included: investing in neighborhoods, maintaining a productive business atmosphere, supporting community partnerships and philanthropic efforts, and sustaining institutional partnerships with local educational and healthcare organizations.
Primary focus areas and specific highlights from each area were as follows:
Investment in Neighborhoods and Community Services
- During the past five years the City replaced or repaired 49 miles of roads, 35 miles
of sidewalks and nearly 10 miles of alleys. These numbers include the seven miles of
roads, 1.7 miles of alleys and six miles of sidewalks that were done in Fiscal 2017-18.
- New parks and recreation amenities, including the addition of Fox Creek Park and Spring Creek Nature Area’s new perimeter trail. To bolster enhancements being made to Richardson park and trail offerings, half a cent of property tax dollars is now dedicated to park maintenance.
- A new piece of public art commemorated with the ribbon cutting for Micro Macro Mojo at Eastside.
- Receiving the Insurance Service Office’s recertification as an ISO-1 rated community, making the City one of only 305 cities in the nation and just 52 communities in Texas to receive this rating.
- The Richardson Fire Department’s receiving the American Heart Association’s Lifeline Emergency Medical Service Gold Award for its performance-focused improvements to get heart attack victims to critical life-saving services. By working with Methodist Richardson Medical Center and other area hospitals, Richardson EMS has been able to make such transports and treatment possible in as little as 43 minutes.
- The Richardson Police Department earning “Recognized” status in the Texas Police Chiefs Association Foundation’s Best Practices Program, starting a new community Dog Walker Watch crime prevention program and formalizing a new intelligence unit to expand on real-time information available to fight crime.
- Initiation of the Richardson Citizens Academy and Resource Education Series, or “CARES,” giving residents and other stakeholders direct access to City leaders and up-close interaction with City services through a six-week municipal training course.
- Homeowners’ completion of 157 Home Improvement Incentive Program projects, adding more than $20 million in neighborhood reinvestment.
- Significant progress on the 2015 Bond Program as design began for the replacement of Fire Station 3 in Canyon Creek and on renovations planned for the Richardson Senior Citizen Center.
Productive Business Atmosphere
- Continuing to serve as one of the leaders for business growth in the region with leasing totals surpassing more than 1 million square feet last year.
- The presence of over 60 foreign-owned companies, giving Richardson the highest concentration of foreign-owned businesses in the Metroplex.
- Continued status as the Official International Business Capital of North Texas, as designated by the Texas Legislature.
- The most recent municipal budget’s dedication of eight-tenths of a cent from the property tax rate to economic development. This fund is used to build resources to attract major projects like Restaurant Park and Alamo Drafthouse.
- Business growth in Richardson generating an environment where 60 percent of the City’s property tax base comes from the business community.
- Earning local and national recognitions as a great place to work, including CNBC.com’s report ranking the City as having the country’s fourth happiest workers, Livability.com ranking Richardson as the ninth best city in the nation for STEM workers and RewardExpert’s ranking of Richardson as the third best midsized city in the South Central U.S. for business meetings.
Community Partnerships and Philanthropy
- Providing strategic support for agencies that help Richardson, focused on key areas such as assistance for the elderly, support for those who are disabled and people who are financially distressed.
- Celebrating the official naming and start of construction for the Ann Eisemann Inclusive Playground. The Richardson East Rotary Club raised more than $500,000 for inclusive playground amenities and a large part of the goal was reached thanks to a donation from Chuck and Ann Eisemann. Part of the 2015 Bond Program, the project will now serve kids with a variety of physical abilities.
- Raising a record $313,000 during last year’s annual Corporate Challenge. This success led to Special Olympics recognizing the City of Richardson as an official partner and co-sponsor, making the city one of only seven such recognized partners in the state.
- Receiving a $100,000 grant from State Farm to help fund new equipment for the Police Department that will allow for more efficient data collection while officers are on patrol. That, combined with other donations, brought State Farm’s total corporate giving to this community to more than $140,000 last year.
- Recognition of the work performed by Helping Agencies Serving Richardson, Network of Community Ministries, Richardson Interfaith Alliance, Altrusa, Richardson Woman’s Club and many other groups.
- Community Services started of a new winter program, code named Holiday Re-enforcement, with code enforcement officers helping distressed homeowners clean their properties to meet community standards.
- Community volunteer work provided to the Animal Shelter, Eisemann Center and other facilities, plus events like the Wildflower Festival’s Guitar Auction and the Christmas parade serving as additional opportunities to provide support.
Support of Institutional Partners
- Partnership to create the Richardson ISD Mayor’s Intern Program, giving students on-the-job experiences in local industries.
- Richardson ISD schools and Plano ISD schools earning ranking within the top 10 school districts in the state.
- UT Dallas’ recognition as the fastest-growing university in Texas and as the fourth fastest growing in the nation. More than 90 percent of UT Dallas students graduate with degrees in STEM-related fields plus management and on average two-thirds of graduates stay in the region.
- Texas Instruments’ new grant to Richardson ISD providing millions of dollars for a “STEM For All” program, extending science and technology to the earliest levels of education.
Other Major Community Updates
- The DART Board’s unanimous approval to build the Cotton Belt Commuter Rail Line. It is expected to be up and running by December 2022. It will then have a stop at CityLine, where a second station will be built adjacent to DART’s CityLine station.
- Future and long-term plans underway now for the area currently known as the Collins Arapaho Innovation District.
- Improvements that are well underway to revitalize and rebuild downtown Richardson, including the construction of the $80 million-plus Public Safety Campus.
- The launch of the Richardson edition of the Community Impact Newspaper.
The address was available for live online viewing on the City website, www.cor.net/stateofthecity. Archived video of the remarks will be available soon on the site.