Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Brookings Register: "City's Financial Health Sound"

From the Brookings Register:

City's financial health sound
Posted: Sunday, Apr 12th, 2009

Brookings Mayor Scott Munsterman gave his final State of the City address to the Council this week.

Mayor Scott Munsterman says the City of Brookings is in great financial shape considering the state of the economy, thanks to the efforts of city officials and residents.

That was just one of the messages Munsterman delivered Tuesday evening during his last State of the City address.

"Brookings is in a position of financial strength due to teamwork, allowing us to make strategic investments in the future.

"Our first- and second-penny sales tax revenue and our third-B revenue for the first quarter of this year have been up 2.79 percent. In light of the recession and economic cycle we're in, I only have one thing to say, and that's thank you.

"Thank you to the people of Brookings for shopping at home and supporting their local economy."

The mayor said Brookings gained more than 700 employees in 2008, and added some to Sioux Falls as well because of labor shortages in Brookings. There are still nearly 600 jobs available here and only a 2.2 percent unemployment rate, the lowest in the state.

"We, for all practical purposes, are No. 1 in job generation in South Dakota."

Munsterman said the city was not in a good position financially eight years ago, but things have changed.

"When you elected me in 2001, we had the daunting task of shoring up a long list of needed improvements. We had what I call a 20thcentury economic plan and a city budget that was losing money, leaving us in a very poor financial position. "¦

"We reformed the way we did business in the city and have a successful financial policy, which has brought Brookings to a position of financial strength."

He also highlighted additions to Brookings over the past few years, including more retail options for citizens, affordable housing and TIF districts, and the SDSU Innovation Campus.

"This will prove to be one of the best investments that we have made in the last eight years for the future of the Brookings region," he said of the research park.

"It will also pay dividends to the rest of the state as the 125-acres park spins off research and technology businesses over the next several decades, providing high-paying jobs and opportunities for our young families ."

Munsterman says partnerships with neighboring communities pay dividends, and it's only a matter of time before the city and the region see the benefits of developing the I-29 corridor.

And the now under-construction Children's Museum of South Dakota and a renovated downtown Streetscape will draw more visitors here.

"The children's science museum, in my opinion, will tag Brookings as the Wall Drug of Eastern South Dakota. People will come to downtown Brookings."

He added that long-term investments in the city are still needed, especially at the airport, railroad safety and water and sewer infrastructure .

Munsterman is stepping down from his post next month when Councilor Tim Reed becomes mayor of Brookings.

The current mayor decided to not run for re-election as he considers a run for governor.

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