Mayor Mike Amyx used his State of the City address Tuesday evening to hammer home a yearlong point he's made about the need to prioritize city projects.
"We have to keep asking, 'What can we afford to do, and when can we afford to do it?'" said Amyx, who delivered the annual address prior to Tuesday evening's City Commission meeting.
Amyx is in the final days of his one-year term as mayor. His term will end at next Tuesday's City Commission meeting, but Amyx will remain on the governing body as a commissioner. If tradition holds, Sue Hack, the current vice mayor, will become the next mayor. That, however, is subject to a vote by the new City Commission, which takes office next week.
Amyx didn't spell out which projects should top the city's priority list, but he did ask residents to recognize the difference between wants and needs.
"By recognizing that many things we desire in our community may need to come behind a few things needed in our community, we are a better community," Amyx said.
Other items Amyx touched on in the speech included:
l The city's efforts to improve street conditions. Amyx said the additional $1.3 million that commissioners added to the 2007 budget for street maintenance will allow the city to do more than it ever has.
"The traveling public will see an improvement in the streets," Amyx said.
l Work to improve economic development in the community. Amyx said the city is still working to purchase the vacant Farmland Industries plant east of Lawrence to convert into a new business park. He also applauded the city's participation in a partnership to convert an existing building at East Hills Business Park into an incubator for emerging bioscience companies.
l Praise for the work of City Manager David Corliss, who was hired in September to replace longtime manager Mike Wildgen, who resigned under pressure.
"David has led the city with the vision and professionalism for success that is benefiting our community," Amyx said.
l Progress on building a new sewage treatment plant south of the Wakarusa River. Amyx said the city has purchased all the property for the approximately $80 million project, which he said is "an important facility for Lawrence, not simply for this decade and the next, but really for the rest of the century."
l Urging residents to spend their dollars locally. "I ask you to take care of local businesses, whether that is a mom-and-pop shop or a local national chain," said Amyx, the owner of a downtown barber shop. "What is important is that the Lawrence community spends money in the Lawrence community."
After Tuesday's meeting, Hack commended Amyx for his speech and commissioners and city staff members for their work during the last year. She said she hoped to touch more on city issues next week if she becomes the next mayor.
"We've tackled some very major projects, and I'm excited about the direction we're taking," Hack said.