by Mayor Simison
Earlier this month, I delivered my third State of the City address as Mayor before our local business owners, City employees, and the public. It was a great opportunity to provide an update about the City of Meridian, primarily focused on infrastructure, public safety, services provided by partner agencies, and the great need to treat people with dignity and respect.
As I stated in my speech, the state of Meridian is strong. The city services being delivered are first-in-class, with our common-sense fiscal management of valuable taxpayer dollars bringing needed infrastructure and people onboard in the most prudent manner. We are committed to the infrastructure improvements necessary to provide efficient and effective services, all of which contribute to the premier quality of life we all enjoy.
With transportation being one of the top concerns for Meridian residents, I discussed many road improvement projects underway, along with Meridian’s number one road priority project – construction of the Linder Road Overpass. Progress is being made as the design of Linder Road Overpass is underway. Although the construction of Linder Road will need to be completed by Idaho Transportation Department and Ada County Highway District, I remain committed to working with our transportation partners and ensuring this project gets built as soon as possible. Along with many other benefits, this bridge will bring properties north of the interstate, including Peregrine Elementary School, into the 5-minute emergency response time of fire station 6, which opened in 2020.
As part of my comments, I discussed the proposed fiscal year 2023 budget to City Council. The proposed budget includes over 50 new employees that will help prepare us for the opening of two new fire stations and a police precinct currently under construction, meet water and sewer service delivery requirements, and provide the necessary behind the scenes support. This budget is ambitious, yet balanced. The most important part of the infrastructure for these public safety needs is the human aspect. None of these stations and precincts can benefit the community without people to serve them. Growing our number of fire stations by 33% in one year is not an easy task, but it is a necessary one. We cannot ask residents to face diminished services because of growth, and the new City employees will help address response times for service throughout our community.
With public safety being our priority in Meridian, work is being done with our law enforcement and the school district to help stem potential acts of violence. In order to keep all of our students as safe as possible, I requested an additional six School Resource Officers (SRO) for assignment to West Ada elementary schools in Meridian. By implementing a dedicated SRO program for elementary schools, our current SROs will be able to stay focused on their efforts in high schools and middle schools, while bringing needed resources for our most vulnerable youth.
I also highlighted our work towards a new Meridian community center that I hope will be located in our downtown. Whether for recreation classes, community meetings, or a variety of activities, we will need space that allows the services people are looking for to be delivered to them. In addition to the community center, I also noted the work that is occurring with the City of Meridian taking over the operation of the Storey Park pool. By working with our community partner, the Western Ada Recreation District (WARD), to take over the pool operations from this separate taxing district, we are taking steps to reduce the overall property tax burden on Meridian residents as we work to eliminate the need for WARD.
The funds that have been entrusted to the City by the citizens are for services you expect. Infrastructure, public safety, and community partnerships at work are just a few of the topics I discussed within my State of the City. I encourage you to visit our website, meridiancity.org/sotc, to watch, read, or listen to the entire 2022 State of the City speech. Here you can hear me discuss the challenges we face and what we are doing to provide effective and efficient services to continue the premier quality of life we all enjoy.
I am honored to serve Meridian. As your Mayor, I am committed to addressing the challenges we face, encouraging innovation within the City, and will stay focused on the fundamental services we provide. As a leader in the community, I will continue advocating for our infrastructure and policy needs to get us closer to being the premier community in which to live, work and raise a family. As an Idahoan, I will do my part and encourage others to do our part and find commonality with one another so we can keep Meridian and Idaho what we all know and love.
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