On Thursday, February 7, 2019, the DeSoto Chamber of Commerce welcomed Mayor Curtistene S. McCowan to the City’s Civic Center to deliver her 2019 State of the City Address before a lunchtime gathering of members of DeSoto’s business and civic communities.
The theme of this year’s address, “Excellence in Balance,” provided Mayor McCowan with the opportunity to highlight the City’s successful efforts to strengthen the municipal workforce, upgrade finances and jumpstart economic development. By exercising responsible governmental stewardship, the Mayor noted that DeSoto has been able to hold the line on property taxes for the past eight years while reducing them for the last four, secure two bond rating upgrades, generate impressive growth in revenue and reserve funds, build a stronger workforce, improve service delivery, and lower the crime rate.
“Given these steady accomplishments and numerous recognitions received from organizations that rate government effectiveness, I can say without hesitation that the State of our City is solid! Solid as a rock!” declared Mayor McCowan.
Among the recognitions that the Mayor was referring to were DeSoto’s third straight Digital Cities Award, Accreditation from the Commission for Accreditation of Parks & Recreation Agencies (CAPRA), Accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA), an ISO Class 1 Fire Department Rating, Texas Municipal Library Directors Association recognition and the Government Finance Officers Association’s Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting & Distinguished Budget Presentation Award.
One of the biggest success stories, and challenges, that the Mayor spoke of in her address was the administration's efforts to acquire and retain high-quality workers. DeSoto’s municipal workers are highly sought after and are frequently hired away by other cities in the area. In order to retain their best workers and recruit additional talent, the City Manager’s Office commissioned a compensation study to calculate the value of workers in the region so that the City could adjust salary rates and benefits to be more competitive. This included distributing bonuses to many of the longest serving workers, and offering signing incentives to experienced police officers and firefighters looking to serve and protect DeSoto residents.
Another highlight of the Mayor’s speech was the creation and subsequent growth of the Hampton Road Economic Development Corridor between Pleasant Run and Belt Line Roads. Current developments include a Dunkin’/Baskin Robbins quick service restaurant that formally opened last Saturday (2/2), construction on a 100-bed transitional skilled nursing facility at Hampton and Barrows Place, and upcoming groundbreakings for Fuzzy’s Taco Shop just west of Hampton on Pleasant Run and the Smoothie King at Hampton and Pleasant Run.
City Manager Dr. Tarron Richardson, speaking on behalf of the City and Chamber of Commerce noted: "These are exciting times for DeSoto because our Hampton Road Redevelopment Corridor Plan allows us to actively eliminate blighted properties and replace them with businesses that will produce precious jobs and provide great services to all of our residents.” He added, "We are grateful to all the residents who voted to approve the bond referendum in 2014 to allow us to move this redevelopment corridor forward.”
In addition to hosting Thursday’s State of the City Address, the Chamber enlisted the support of DeSoto merchant Access Self Storage and Truck Rental to help make Thursday’s event possible. They also secured the sponsorship of the Linebarger Law Firm who sponsored a networking session for local businesses immediately prior to the Mayor’s speech. The City of DeSoto is grateful to the Chamber, Access and Linebarger, and all of the local businesses, leaders and residents for their help with the State of the City Address and for helping to make a daily difference in the life of DeSoto.
The Mayor closed her address by reminding all gathered to save the date of Saturday, March 2, 2019, at 10:00 AM, at the Town Center for a special celebration. The reason? DeSoto turns 70 on that date and a party is in the works.