10-year report card gives Centennial high marks

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When the City of Centennial was incorporated more than a decade ago, it laid out a strategic plan containing 14 guiding principles and goals it hoped to achieve by 2012.

Centennial Mayor Cathy Noon detailed those goals before a crowd of more than 250 business leaders, elected officials and others at the annual State of the City address, held April 11 at the Embassy Suites Hotel in Centennial.

“Our wonderful city isn’t just happenstance,” Noon said. “It is the result of a well-thought-out plan that was set in motion years ago, a plan that we have implemented and that we will take into the future — a plan of vision combined with leadership.”

So how does Centennial stack up against its decade-old goals?

Fairly well, according to Noon.

Among the city’s first goals were those tied to financial stability, including a balanced tax base and a financially sustainable government.

“During 2012, we added to our sound, balanced tax base with more commercial and retail property with the annexations of Rock Bottom Brewery, J. Alexander’s and REI,” Noon explained. “That rounded out our previous annexation of the surrounding Centennial Promenade Shopping area, further balancing the amount of commercial versus residential property within our borders.”

Noon said the city had also been successful with retaining businesses and fostering expansions.

Centennial also saw a 24 percent increase in sales tax collection, due to an improving economy, sales tax audits and improved collection of delinquent sales tax.

The city was also charged with creating effective city management, keeping government small and using innovation and best methods to keep costs low and quality high.

Noon credited the hiring of City Manager John Danielson with helping restructure city government and smartly outsourcing services that were not cost-effective or a strong core competency.

Centennial was recognized as Safest City in Colorado for the eighth consecutive year, and Noon credited work done by the Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office, which is the city’s public safety contractor, as well as the Cunningham Fire District, South Metro Fire Rescue Authority and the Littleton Fire Department.

Changes in the city’s Land Development Code have emphasized practicality, clarity and a focus on reinvesting in current city assets.

“Interestingly, we already have commercial applicants petitioning to be under the new LDC zoning prior to the total implementation being completed,” she said. “Businesses appreciate the clear parameters and efficiencies of the LDC, and residents are ensured their interests are protected.”

Even without large development projects such as the new 42-acres Jones Business District, Noon noted that more than 15,000 permits were issued last year, a sign that businesses and residents are reinvesting in the community.

Increased connectivity including online payments, appointment scheduling and park reservations have helped improve customer service and save time and money, another goal set forth in 2002.

“Our Public Works Department has added traffic-signal controls and weather stations, which help traffic flow more smoothly and increase road safety,” said Noon. “And, to facilitate those controls, the city is in the process of laying fiber to better facilitate communication to those high-tech devices.”

Principles number 7 and 9 centered on well-maintained city streets and infrastructure.

Noon said significant improvements to the transportation network have been made, most prominently the city’s increase in the number of miles it maintains.

Through the use of GPS and algorithms, the city has been able to reduce the time it takes to plow snow routes by 40 percent, allowing for 93 additional miles to be plowed during each snowstorm.

Another highlight, according to Noon, is the city’s recently acquired public works building and yard off Jordan Road and Eagle Street.

“This site will provide a permanent home for trucks, plows, snow and ice materials, while saving our taxpayers money,” she said. “The 6-acre concrete yard alone is worth more than the $2.75 million we paid for the entire site.”

Noon noted that 2012 saw the official opening of Centennial Center Park and other open-space projects, each contributing to the city’s sense of identity.

The final three principles focused on the citizen’s experience of government.

“We have 68 citizens that serve on 10 boards, commissions and advisory groups,” she said. “District meetings have increasingly good attendance and provide a great opportunity for direct sharing of information between council, staff, and citizens.”

Noon said the city takes it as a sign of trust that citizens overwhelmingly passed Ballot Measure 2D last November, an exception to the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights that allows Centennial to retain and spend city revenues from all funding sources that currently or will exist.

“It appears our vision and our leadership have worked hand in hand,” concluded Noon. “And with accomplishments like these, I hope you agree this is one report card you won’t be afraid to take home.”

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