With all the recent positive economic news for our region, we are cautiously optimistic about our 2017 City government budget. For example, in mid-December we learned the unemployment rate for Greeley and Weld County was one of the lowest in the country. Oil prices stabilized during 2016 and that has ensured oil and gas activity, Leprino Foods is continuing its expansion in Greeley, additional “fast casual” restaurants are developing at CenterPlace, and the downtown Hilton hotel is progressing on schedule. There’s more good news—Downtown is now the home of over 100 new County government employees, which adds new retail and restaurant customers.
I am confident in our ability to provide the service levels we proposed and the City Council approved for 2017. The $346,144,597 budgeted includes the hiring of three new police officers, a Real Estate Asset specialist to help ensure we receive the most value from our property and oil and gas assets, and implementation of a major software system for our planning, engineering, and building activities to improve our customer service.
Of course, we will continue to meet all ongoing calls for police and fire public safety and will serve over 12,000 young people with youth sports programs. We will also take care of Greeley’s parks, including, but not limited to 28 neighborhood parks and 68 miles of trails. The 2017 budget also funds our exemplary transit services that saw an 8% ridership increase in 2016 over 2015 and a 906% increase in K-12 student ridership since the creation of the Crown Jewels Busing program. We will continue the Keep Greeley Moving construction schedule that will improve over 40 streets in 2017 and complete another phase of 20th Street work. In 2017 we will also initiate the design for widening 71st Avenue between 10th and 20th Streets.
The growth occurring in Greeley is evident each and every day. These changes bring challenges, including the need to provide additional services. In the end, we work the hardest to ensure we’re meeting residents’ quality of life needs and that Greeley is a great City in which to live, learn, work and play.
Roy H. Otto, City Manager