Mayor Linda T. Johnson delivers her State of the City speech at the Hilton Garden Inn on East Constance Road on Tuesday. The hardhats and bricks on the table symbolize the "Blueprint for Success" theme.
Mayor Linda T. Johnson delivers her State of the City speech at the Hilton Garden Inn on East Constance Road on Tuesday. The hardhats and bricks on the table symbolize the "Blueprint for Success" theme.

Archived Story

Mayor: State of city ‘strong’

Published 10:38pm Tuesday, May 7, 2013

The city of Suffolk is building a strong future through financial progress, economic growth, educational attainment, public safety improvements, booming recreational opportunities and more, Mayor Linda T. Johnson said in her State of the City speech Tuesday.

“I submit to you that the current state of the city is strong and getting stronger,” Johnson said. “We should, all of us, be filled with gratitude and humility for our present progress and prosperity.”

The final event in the Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce’s State of the City series at the Hilton Garden Inn on East Constance Road drew nearly 450 attendees from Suffolk and surrounding cities.

Drawing on a “Blueprint for Success” theme to make her case, Johnson highlighted the city’s improving credit rating, expenditure cuts and infrastructure investments.

“It is important that our citizens understand that the fiscal discipline and painful choices we’ve made in recent years have translated into solid financial health, even in these lean times,” Johnson said. “Because of the broad range of cost-cutting measures we implemented early on in the recession, we have remained on sound financial footing to this day.”

She called attention to the construction of the new municipal center, which she said “truly symbolizes just how far this city has come,” and to growing investment in downtown, including the recent announcement that The Monument Companies will renovate a strip of downtown buildings into 68 new loft-style apartments.

Economic development also continues to succeed, she said. Unilever recently announced its decision to keep its Lipton Tea plant in Suffolk and invest in $96 million of new equipment. She also highlighted last year’s openings of Ace Hardware and the Navy Exchange Command in the CenterPoint intermodal center off Holland Road.

The city added about 1,957 new jobs last year, she said, double the increase of the prior year.

Calling attention to the city’s schools, Johnson said the educational institutions are measuring success “one child at a time.”

“Their goal is to ensure that every graduate has discovered his or her strengths and passions, is prepared for college, the workforce or military, and has a plan to launch the next chapter of his or her life,” she said.

She also honored Suffolk’s public safety officers, called attention to tourism and recreation opportunities and thanked Delegate S. Chris Jones, who was in attendance, for his role in passing transportation funding legislation in the most recent General Assembly session.

Johnson also spoke of challenges the city faces, especially in transportation funding and continuing to “do more with less” as the economic recovery continues to advance slowly.

However, the city will move forward, she said.

“It is evident that over the years, in Suffolk we have done just that. We’ve not been content to rest on successes of the past, but have continued on, undaunted in our quest to make our city the very best that it can be.”

  • hambone

    The mayor is misleading the citizens. Your city is not getting stronger when your taxes are rising and water and sewer are highest in area and will get higher. Also we can’t fund our schools. Also city manager and chief staff and other top officials making 100000 and higher received big raises in January while police officers and fire fighters making 30 and 40 thousand took pay cuts. Other low pay employees took pay cuts as well . Our city is run by bad leaders who don’t support the schools. Next year the school and other low paid employees police firefighters will have to beg for raise again. And will be told sorry city manager and other top officials are struggling with there pay so we give them big raise you get nothing but hire taxes and higher water and sewer. State of city is bad and getting worst under very poor leaders. Only way fix this is elections.

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  • Roger Leonard

    I do agree with our Mayor, that Suffolk is moving forward. But, it has been at great cost to the Citizens of Suffolk. We have now had two largest increases in Real Estate Taxes in years and many, many other fee and tax increases, too. So to just say we have come a long way, without this context is meaningless… To say the rating agencies like this is an understatement, but at what cost to quality of life for the common folk?

    The burden and cost of government in Suffolk, is truly getting to be dear. Then there is the loss of faith in the City Manager in all this is which is of even greater note by all except the Mayor and her fellows on Council.

    Suffolk has now become a much higher cost community to live and survive in than most cities near us. This is so, except for the Senior City Staff who got raises of such magnitude, that they no longer have the same perspective the rest of us live with. That is evident at every council meeting…

    There needs to be a real explanation and case made, for why the City Manager needs a salary so high, she cannot relate to the common folk. She says paying benefits for teachers is not affordable, but demands the city pay all of the costs for her benefits. Is that right? Further, this attitude is also evident by her lack of ability to lead or to serve in a capacity as our Chief Administrator, separated from all the politics we just saw in the latest Budget-Fiasco with the School Board… The continuing list of her other failures are beyond the scope of this discussion, but lead to the clear understanding that it is time to help her find a position better suited to her “Regal Attitude” and standing…

    So, the Mayor is right; Suffolk is moving forward and many may have to move out, because we cannot afford the costs of progress by such a standard… unless we get a job that pays like the City Manager’s…

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  • Lovebug

    LOL Thats all I have, just a LOL.

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