Mayor speaks on ‘State of the City’
Community leaders filled Victory Family Church Jan. 18 to hear Mayor Ken Shetter give his report on the 2017 state of the city.
The mayor spoke on the growing population of Burleson, and about improvements to the economy, public safety and infrastructure. Shetter’s speech was accompanied by a video highlighting the memorable year for the city, which included statistics and facts.
More than 45,000 people call Burleson home and the community is growing at a rapid pace, Shetter said. He re-enforced his dedication to public safety and infrastructure improvement a “top priority.”
“When it comes to public safety, our most important investment is in human resources,” Shetter said. “That’s why in the current year’s budget the City Council, at the recommendation of the city manager, significantly increased pay for our first responders.”
Shetter called the increase in pay a “major investment.” In the past 18 months the Burleson Fire Department has added seven new firefighter positions and achieved an ISO rating of one, placing it in the top 1 percent of communities in the United States.
Moreover, in 2017, the city approved 72 final and minor plats and issued 279 residential building permits, with an average value of $263,500, a 14 percent increase over 2016’s average value of $230,000, Shetter repeated.
This growth has come with a slight increase in crime, Shetter said. The 8 percent increase in crime was specifically in Part One crimes, which includes criminal homicide, forcible rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, theft, motor vehicle theft and arson.
However, when looked at as a “crime rate,” the increase was only 5.2 percent, Shetter said.
“Put in a recent historical context, we should note that our overall trend still looks good, with the number of Part One offenses in 2017 remaining lower than the number of Part One offenses committed at the outset of this decade- even after seven years of steady population growth,” Shetter said.
“Still, the police department, city management and City Council take the 2017 increase seriously and we are committed to ensuring our long-term
trend of lower crime rates continues.”
The mayor said that in 2017, the Burleson Police Department took a hard look at childhood exposure to violence. Shetter quoted a Center for Disease Control statistic that said more than 1,000 children in Burleson are exposed to violence annually.
“That is why we became the first city in America to pass an ordinance making it illegal to commit serious acts of violence in the presence of your child,” Shetter said.
This ordinance will recognize exposing a child to violence as a crime and will also aid police officers in identifying which children need the most help.
The mayor went on to talk about the City Council approving a “strangulation protocol” for victims of domestic violence.
“This ordinance would require the creation of a multi-disciplinary task force, ensure our first responders are properly trained to deal with incidents of strangulation, ensure effective evidence collection which will aid prosecutors, and perhaps most importantly, will require an EMS response anytime strangulation is alleged or suspected,” Shetter said.
Shetter also spoke on infrastructure improvements made by the city, as well as projects coming up in 2018, which include Old Town quiet zones, Renfro Street improvements from State Hwy.174 to Alsbury and Johnson to I-35; the widening of McAlister; improvements to McNairn at 174; the Irene and Gardens to Johnson safe pedestrian routes project; the extension of Lakewood to County Road 1021; and street rehab for Rudd, Johnson, King, Warren, Cindy Court, Redhaw Court, Cardinal Ridge, NW Tarrant and Industrial Park Boulevard.
Education and training were also topics of discussion. The mayor praised the development of the one-of-a-kind Burleson Works program and the addition of Texas Tech to the program, who will offer online bachelor’s degrees to Burleson students. The City Council also approved a plan which could lead to a $3.5 million investment into expanded higher education facilities.
“I am hopeful that in 2018 the city, Hill College and BISD can come to terms on a plan to provide workforce training as well as associate’s and four-year degrees to our community and we will be able to move forward with making Burleson a community where everyone has access to higher education,” Shetter said.
Additionally, Shetter said the economic outlook for the city is “outstayed.” The unemployment rate for the city is a mere 3.2 percent, down from the national average of 4.1 percent and 3.9 percent in the state of Texas. The median household income increased $8,000 to total $88,000, which is more than $30,000 higher than the median income for the state.
“We take pride in all of our shared accomplishments in 2017, but we aren’t slowing down,” Shetter said. “Burleson’s future is woven with all the people who call our community home. From the CEO to the service provider. Those that are juggling the daily life of a busy family to those who just got their own place.The teacher, the doctor, the welder, the first responder, the barista, and so many more. This is where you belong. We. Are. Burleson.
Thank you. May God bless you and may God bless our great city.”