SOUTH BEND, Ind. Wednesday night members of Mayor Pete Buttigieg’s administration and members of the South Bend community filled an auditorium of the Century Center for the State of the City Address.
It was the third address for Buttigieg who will be deployed until September 28th, 2014. Mark Neal will replace Buttigieg as acting mayor.
During his address address, Buttigieg reflected upon South Bend’s achievements in 2013 and set forth initiatives for the comings years.
“By sticking to principles in everything we do—partnerships, customer service, innovation, inclusion and transparency, we can deliver change that endures,” said Buttigieg. Those six principles of action ought to span across government and the community.
Partnerships were key to the mayor’s message. South Bend has already partnered with other groups to develop CityVoice, which connects web-industry professionals with municipal government, as well as the South Bend Group Violence Initiative which unites community leaders around the mission of improving public safety.
According to a release from the mayor’s office, South Bend saved $1 million by refinancing the Century Center’s sewer bonds. The city continued to save money by switching to “greener” trash trucks and reducing the cost of inspecting vacant and abandoned homes.
Unemployment in 2013 decreased to 8.7 percent from 11.0 percent, a 20 percent reduction. Meanwhile, the city experienced a 50 percent drop in the number of homicides in 2013 compared to 2012. The nine homicides city-wide are still “nine to many,” said Buttigieg.
Buttigieg explained a strategy, not a program or project, is needed to address violence in the community.
Other noteworthy projects include the city’s vacant and abandon homes initiative. Of the 1,000 properties, 96 have been repaired, 44 demolished and more than 200 under contract.
South Bend Common Council president, Oliver Davis said the mayor’s address was “on point” with where the city is going, “This year you're seeing some of the seeds starting to come together and now we can start eating those seeds because they're turning into the plants we need them to be.”
The city launched a 311 call center in 2013. Since it opened, operators have taken over 100,000 calls and helped streamline the city’s responsiveness on issues ranging from water bill collection to parking restrictions.
To continue to make improvements Buttigieg pointed to the community as “capacity” for change. He hopes that in 2014 the people of South Bend will continue to be empowered to maintain and push forward new improvements. Projects like “Honey from the Hood” and Big Brothers Big Sisters are key to creating and sustaining community involvement.
“There is no time to lose in delivering on the priorities that the administration, the Council, and the community have set into motion, and we know we have our work cut out for us. To truly deliver on priorities like neighborhood public safety, improved housing, and a thriving economy in every part of our city, we will need to be as disciplined and energetic as ever,” Buttigieg said.