JOBS AND ECONOMIC PROSPERITY
I believe that the overall health of a community is based on economic prosperity, and that economic prosperity should be available to everyone by providing a climate where existing businesses thrive, new businesses want to relocate, and jobs that provide a living wage are readily available to those who seek them.
What We’ve Accomplished: During Brian’s service on city council, Longmont has seen substantial economic growth and prosperity. Longmont has created and embraced “Advance Longmont,” an economic strategy prepared by the Longmont Economic Development Partnership. As a result, we have seen the unemployment rate fall by nearly 3%. The average wage in Longmont has increased from $48,900 to $51,666 since its implementation. Over the past year alone, annual employment growth has increased by more than 4%. Specific accomplishments for Longmont during Brian’s service on city council include the creation of the North Metro Enterprise Zone, which has resulted in 293 businesses becoming pre-certified to participate in the economic zone which, as of today, has already created 264 jobs, has provided $3.9 million in investment tax credits, and has resulted in $129 million being spent on capital expenditures. Other significant accomplishments include redevelopment of the old mall site into Village at the Peaks, getting Longmont a state-of-the-art movie theatre, demolition of the old turkey plant, and attracting primary employers such as AstraZeneca, Smucker’s, and Sticker Giant to Longmont. Perhaps more convincing than raw data is the fact that Longmont just feels like we are on the right track – take a drive down Main Street and one can simply “feel” that Longmont is prospering.
I believe that all heavy industrial activity, including fracking, belongs well outside our residentially zoned neighborhoods. With today’s technology, it is possible for the owners of mineral rights to successfully access and acquire their property without posing a danger or impediment to the health of Longmont’s citizens (or to our property values).
What We’ve Accomplished: In addition to being appointed to Governor Hickenlooper’s Oil & Gas Task Force, Brian championed Longmont’s newly formed Oil & Gas Regulations which protect Longmont from the ill effects of fracking. As a result of Brian’s efforts – and those of his teammates on city council – nearly the entirety of Longmont is “off limits” to oil and gas operators who wish to frack inside our beautiful city. Brian also was the moving voice on November 29, 2016, to adopt Longmont’s Sustainability Plan and further protect Longmont’s water and air. Our Sustainability Plan looks at how we might better build and develop new construction, dispose of our waste, travel about our city, preserve and protect our natural environment, conserve our energy resources, maintain community cohesion, all while continuing to create a local economy that is successful and vibrant.
I believe that our community faces a housing crisis. While the cost of housing in Longmont remains among the lowest in Colorado, we are among the highest when comparing the rate of appreciating property values. In other words, we’re less expensive presently, but we won’t be for long. While this is great news for property owners, it’s a detriment to those in our community who rent, and especially for those who struggle to pay for housing. As such, I believe we should seek to understand and alleviate the shortage of affordable housing in Longmont. Specifically, this means increasing the supply of apartment units, and providing limited subsidized housing opportunities for members of Longmont’s working class (who currently struggle to earn a living wage).
What We’ve Accomplished: Brian was integral in the creation and implementation of Longmont’s current affordable housing program. Specifically, Brian and his city council colleagues have directed city staff to set aside $1,000,000 each year into an affordable housing fund. This fund will be used to provide developer incentives for the purpose of providing affordable housing. Other uses for the fund include financial participation with the Longmont Housing Authority and other government agencies (e.g., the Boulder County Housing Authority) in the advance of their own affordable housing projects. Most effectively, Longmont can leverage its affordable housing fund to obtain additional state and federal money. Since implementing our affordable housing fund, Longmont has set aside $460,000 in 2016, and then $540,000 in 2017. In 2018, the affordable housing program is budgeted to receive its full $1,000,000 assignment for the first time ever. Moving forward, Longmont’s affordable housing fund will generate interest income that will allow Longmont to participate in a successful affordable housing program in perpetuity, without providing an unreasonable financial burden on Longmont residents and taxpayers.
The flooding Longmont experienced in September of 2013 now seems like an eternity ago to many of our residents. Nevertheless, the flood continues to be forefront in the minds of city staff and council. In September 2013, the St. Vrain Creek flooded and hundreds of homes and businesses were severely damaged or lost. Much of our city’s infrastructure was left crippled or broken. At its peak, St. Vrain Creek flowed at over three times its channel’s maximum holding capacity. The city was cut in half, and hundreds of residents needed emergency rescue.
What We’ve Accomplished: Our city’s budget and employees continue to face the flood’s repercussions. However, thanks to a phenomenal city staff, most recovery work was completed by the third anniversary of the flood event. The “Resilient St. Vrain!” project included the full repair and restoration of Longmont’s damaged streets, parks, water resources, irrigation ditches, drainage sysems, powerlines, and public buildings. Longmont rebuilt while focusing our efforts on protecting our community from future flood events; we are presently improving the creek channel to protect people and property from future flooding. For example, bridges along the creek corridor will be replaced and expanded to pass 100-year flood flows. Construction will progress over several years, moving upstream in phases as funds are secured.
While Longmont is a good town, I believe we have work still to do before we are truly great. As mayor, in addition to continuing to address important issues such as the rising costs of housing, environmental concerns such as fracking, the creation of jobs and economic prosperity for all, and ongoing flood reconstruction efforts, we need to be aware of and solve the following pending issues:
- Our increasing homeless population (and the accompanying problem of panhandling and public camping in our parks and on our streets).
- The ever increasing demands on our streets and roads, meaning that traffic needs to be mitigated and the maintenance of our streets needs to be timely.
- Securing additional water storage such as the Windy Gap Firming Project in order to assure that Longmont meets its water needs well into the future.
- Continuing to enhance the beauty and utility of Longmont’s public resources, such as the construction of a new recreation center which would include a competition swimming pool and competitive hockey/ice rink.