Suffolk on the ‘Progress Express’

Published 9:07 pm Saturday, January 10, 2015

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is Part 1 of Mayor Linda Johnson’s annual letter to the citizens of Suffolk. Parts 2 and 3 will follow on consecutive Sundays. The letter was submitted at the end of 2014.

The members of the Suffolk City Council want to share our reflections as we end what has again been a significant year for our city. Our “Progress Report for 2014” showcases a busy year, and the word progress is especially fitting in the title, as by definition it is the “forward or onward movement toward a destination.”

The Suffolk City Council and city administration have continued their work of moving Suffolk forward toward an even brighter tomorrow. The path has Suffolk traveling fast but with a purpose on the “Progress Express.”

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Our city is seeing growth that brings business development, job opportunities, and an increased quality of life, thanks to a team approach. Council and management are working together to build an economic engine that drives Suffolk to new heights.

One of the most significant stops on the “Progress Express” is our AAA credit rating. For the first time in Suffolk’s rich history, it has achieved the highly acclaimed and much-lauded AAA rating following an upgrade by Standard & Poor’s ratings service on the city’s outstanding general obligation bonds and long-term rating.

Not only did Standard & Poor’s rating for the city see an increase, but there were gains with both Fitch and Moody’s. The AAA rating has been a goal of this administration, which has overseen the city rebound from a drop in credit worthiness and cash on hand in the mid-2000’s.

The city was especially praised for our strong management and financial policies and our consistent ability to maintain balanced budgets as well as our robust economy.

All of the hard work of City Council and city management has certainly paid off, and the benefactors will certainly be the citizens of Suffolk, who will continue to receive the high levels of services they deserve and expect of their government.

Cost savings from being an efficient and well-managed city have allowed us to invest in our citizens, our employees, our schools and our infrastructure. The new municipal building and E-911 call center, known as City Hall, opened its doors in September and will build toward full project completion in 2015.

The 110,000-square-foot facility brings multiple municipal offices under one roof in a convenient “one-stop-shop,” layout while attracting development in the historic downtown area. The building is part of the city’s downtown redevelopment focus area.

The current and planned investments in facilities, streets, utilities and related infrastructure, which includes a new central library on West Washington Street, will continue to cause downtown to thrive and flourish and be an area of which all of Suffolk can be proud.

Pioneer Elementary School opened its doors with the start of the 2014/2015 school year. This facility is truly state-of-the-art and showcases the city’s commitment to education.

The city is in strong financial shape with a prudent eye on expenditures and looking for cost savings wherever they may be found. Suffolk features a lean municipal government with a workforce is invested in the success of this city.

Linda Johnson is the first elected mayor of Suffolk. Email her at