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Celebrating 2015, A Year of Partnerships and Progress
In 2013, the City Council developed a multi-year improvement plan for the City, including five objectives with numerous strategies for each. We’ve been tracking data and progress in areas related to each of the objectives below.
- Enhance Our Regional Position in Economic Development
- Improve the Safety and Health of Employees and Citizens
- Keep Fiscal Discipline Visible
- Improve Neighborhoods
- Streamline Citizen and Business Interaction with the City
The year 2015 provided opportunities to make significant progress in each area. We celebrate not only the progress, but how the progress was made. Partnerships with the private sector, between various jurisdictions and organizations, as well as new relationships within the city have allowed us to leverage citizen and business tax investments for a much greater return.
Since this plan was developed in 2013, the City has experienced repeated successes in these five strategic areas. We continue to recognize more successes and opportunities, and the attached pages show some of the most visible and innovative highlights of 2015.
City employees, your friends, neighbors, and professional colleagues are the difference makers in all the successes celebrated below. They simply care about the city and its citizens and visitors so much that they often go the extra mile to make great things happen. Whether it is a dog revived after a fire, a bike purchase for a citizen when his was stolen, a special Olympics fundraiser or event, or a worker stopping to help a young lady get her car started. These are just a few of the hundreds of things they do to make Cape a great place!
1. Enhance Our Regional Position in Economic Development
The Greater Cape Girardeau Business Park became a reality with its initial infrastructure complete and its first tenant adding 70 jobs to the community.
More jobs were added, including Walmart and AT&T adding 155 jobs. The Cape Girardeau County unemployment rate was down to 3.9 percent in December 2015 from 5.5 percent in January 2015.
Entrepreneurism is exploding in Cape Girardeau with Catapult Creative House opening, Codefi expanding, and a minority and woman-owned business program now funded in conjunction with Southeast Missouri State University’s Institute for Regional Innovation and Entrepreneurship.
Industry and residential is construction is steady with over $16 million in new residential construction and additions and over $24 million in new non-residential construction and additions in 2015.
Regional transportation planning and investment included a new 2016-2040 Metropolitan Transportation Plan, continuing Shawnee Parkway review, the West End/Walnut Street Improvement Project, and many other street repairs and renovations.
The city is open for business as evidenced by expansions at Verdesian Life Sciences, Buchheit Logistics, Old Hickory Pits, Midamerica Hotels, and Saint Francis Medical Center. New businesses opening in 2015 included Purchase Clinic, Binuity, and Five Below.
The regional hub will attract more tourists with the conference center, Cape Splash water slide additions, new Capaha Park amenities, and more events planned like this year’s MSHSAA Womens’ High School Volleyball State Tournament and other major events bringing in hundreds of visitors.
We celebrated excellence in infrastructure development and maintenance with the Wastewater Treatment Plant’s first year of operation and renaming the Merriwether Pump Station for its Chief Operator of 50+ years, Mr. Andy Juden. During the year the City received a prestigious award from the Army Corps of Engineers for the operation and maintenance of the flood wall system.
2. Improve the Safety and Health of Employees and Citizens
The community supports its public safety personnel. Providing our police officers and firefighters with the facilities, vehicles and equipment they need, the voter-approved Fire Sales Tax and Public Safety Trust Fund was executed as promised, with new vehicles recently purchased and planning toward a new police station and fire stations already underway.
For decades, the citizens of Cape Girardeau have voiced their support for state-of-the-art technology in policing. In 2015, we purchased a license plate reader camera system through JAG Grant Program and rolled out electronic ticketing to reduce officers’ time in issuing tickets, thus increasing patrol time. More than 275 anonymous tips were submitted through the new anonymous tip line and Police Department apps.
With greater resources has come greater impact with targeted patrols and Street Crime Task Force netting approximately 44 arrests and 587 violation citations. Police continue to build trust in neighborhoods and meet with citizen groups through Coffee With Cops and Neighborhood Roll Call events. The first-ever Citizens’ Police Experience gave the community the opportunity to role play as officers in life-like scenarios, giving them insight into the daily life of a Cape Girardeau Police Officer.
The Fire Department partnered with community groups, local businesses and the American Red Cross in its Home Fire Preparedness Campaign by canvassing neighborhoods, teaching about fire safety, and installing free smoke alarms in high-risk areas.
Emergency preparedness was at the forefront again this year with the completion of battery backup systems for all City-operated traffic signals, a successful flood response, and ongoing Emergency Preparedness 101 training for all City departments. The City Employee Emergency Preparedness Team began rewriting the City’s Emergency Operations Plan to more closely align with day-to-day department operations and current protocol.
Under health initiatives, there was a grand opening of the Community Demonstration Garden and Urban Orchard next to the Shawnee Park Center, a new partnership with University of Missouri Extension Master Gardeners to offer gardening and healthy eating/cooking educational programs, and a partnership with the Cape Girardeau County Public Health Center, who received the HEAL (Healthy Eating Active Living) Grant, allowing the city to hire a part-time Community Garden Coordinator.
3. Keep Fiscal Discipline Visible
The fifth iteration of the Transportation Trust Fund (TTF) was approved by voters following public open houses, where a public interaction game helped gain public input on use of TTF 5 funds.
At the Public Works‘ Transfer Station, we partnered with a local solid waste trash hauler for construction of a new transfer station at the existing Public Works site. The hauler’s trash disposal at the new transfer station will pay for a majority of the Transfer Station construction.
Continued financial discipline has enabled the City to maintain a balanced operating budget. We have built and maintained adequate emergency reserve funds. Staff continue monitoring and adjusting as needed to stay within the City’s operating budget throughout the year.
In 2015, an Employee Salary Market Study was conducted, and findings from the study were implemented.
In keeping with financial discipline, the City was able to reduce their fleet of equipment by 11 pieces in 2015. In all, the City has seen a reduction of 28 pieces of fleet equipment over the last three years.
4. Improving Neighborhoods
Neighborhood Development Initiative (NDI) groups have formed and are working together in Red Star and the South Side. Input from the South Side NDI group has led to the Police Department’s anonymous tip line and improvement emphasis by all city departments. Red Star NDI has identified priority areas for improvement, completed extensive cleanup efforts with the neighborhood and city, and coordinated sandbagging and flood mitigation measures during the New Year Flood (December 2015-January 2016).
Work continues toward improving building stock in Cape Girardeau. The City Council adopted the 2015 International Building Codes. The Residential Rental Licensing program continues in full force, with 749 licensed landlords, 6,906 registered rental properties, and 239 properties inspected for compliance. Staff continues with Minimum Property Standards enforcement and added an additional Code Enforcement Officer.
Beautification efforts around our city continued. The Keep Cape Beautiful Beautification Committee continues to award commercial properties for their efforts in keeping our city looking great, and the Committee advocates for cleanup initiatives like their Fall 2015 Cleanup in downtown.
Nuisance violations have been actively enforced, holding citizens accountable for maintaining their property. In all, 219 nuisances were abated.
The year 2015 was a banner one for our beautiful downtown district and downtown revitalization! Starting off early in the year, the National Main Street Center chose Cape Girardeau and Old Town Cape as a 2015 Great American Main Street Award (GAMSA) winner. This highly prestigious award honors the best downtown areas in our country and is a permanent honor and distinction.
The City hosted meetings regarding upcoming Downtown Sidewalk and Placemaking Project, receiving input from the public on their preferred design choices.
Adding additional trail access along the riverfront, a pedestrian bridge was constructed on the Riverfront Park Trail crossing over Sloan Creek, connecting the northern section of the Riverwalk to the Red Star Access boat ramp (completion expected in early 2016).
In partnership with downtown property owners and residents, a Downtown Community Improvement District (CID) was established. The CID has contracted with Old Town Cape to coordinate service enhancements and administer programs. Old Town Cape will contract with the City for additional cleanup efforts, security and other items, as well.
The Downtown Tax Increment Financing District was approved, which will give the downtown district additional tools to help make future improvements to the award-winning area.
5. Streamline Citizen and Business Interaction with the City
Staff worked towards acquiring the right tools to make business more efficient. During 2015, the massive Munis software transition continued, with the following items reaching full implementation: Accounts payable/receivable, asset management, human resources and payroll, billing and cashiering, and licensing and permitting modules.
For the first time building permits, trades licenses and business licenses were processed and renewed through Munis. Testing continues for additional online Munis functions, with expected implementation in late 2016, including application, renewal, and payment of trades licenses; renewal and payment of Residential Rental Licenses; and a way for the public to request inspections and review inspection feedback online. Vendors doing business with the City can now view online their bid proposals and see payment statuses, as well.
Munis Work Orders will be used in the future for all City departments to track work and projects. This system is the backbone of the future implementation of Citizen 311, allowing citizens to report and track online issues or complaints such as potholes, nuisances, and more.
Parks and Recreation implemented ActiveNet software, which provided online registration for classes and programs, as well as a means of checking park shelter availability online.
To provide updates and increased accessibility for customers, construction of a new Transfer Station began on the current Public Works site.
The City’s departments increased activity on social media, and now have more than 20 accounts across Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Flickr, and Instagram.
A vendor was selected to design the City’s new website, with a goal of implementation near the beginning of the 2016-2017 fiscal year. The new website will provide greater functionality, allowing for further online transactions by our customers, and will be responsive to all devices (desktop/laptop computers, tablets, mobile devices).
Other web-based tools have seen progress, including Geographic Information Systems (GIS) web tools that will be further pushed out to departments, online fillable forms are now available, Parks’ program signups can be done online, and additional information services are now available.
An interactive TTF-5 street repairs map is now available online for citizen use.
Outreach to citizens reached a new high. The Citizens’ Fire Academy hosted a maximum 15 participants, and the Citizens’ Police Experience hosted approximately 40 participants. Public Works hosted a Household Hazardous Waste Collection event in Arena Park with record attendance. The annual Youth in Government Day garnered 14 participants. A large Parks and Recreation online survey was conducted to gain input on city parks and future needs. Additional open houses were held for various projects, including those using a public interaction game to gain input on how the City should implement TTF-5 funds.