Last week, we came together to celebrate the accomplishments of our city and give an update on the progress we made in our strategic priorities. For those who could not make it, 2012 was "a time like no other" in Meridian. We received national recognition as a community and made great strides toward our vision of being a premier place to live, work and raise a family.
Meridian's population grew by 1,800 over the last year, totaling 78,000 in our community. New home building permits are up. Houses sold faster and the price that our homes sold for increased by 7.5 percent. Indeed, the energy is in Meridian!
We also had progress in all five of our strategic priorities.
Safe community - We continue our focus as one of the safest cities in Idaho. We saw system improvements in almost every department. The police department's Impact Team worked to drill down into the root cause of our crime and increase the livability in our neighborhoods. Certainly over the last year, we have seen tremendous success. They have served 38 search warrants, made over 300 arrests, recovered over $83,000 in stolen property and seized $273,000 in drugs. As a result, we have seen decreases in crimes against society and drug offenses, as well.
Responsive Government - We continue a long-standing tradition by past and current City Councils and mayors for having a budget in the black, saving for projects we need and only then building them with cash saved. Our City Council, Senior Leadership Team and Finance Department are good stewards of your money.
We will be asking our citizens if they want to expand representation of City Council seats from four to six and will take public comment on Feb. 19. If it is moved forward, there would be a public vote in May regarding the expansion to six City Council seats.
Place To Go - More than 75 new businesses opened in 2012. Everything you need is right here at home. The opportunities to enjoy Kleiner Park, and the dining, shopping and entertainment at The Village at Meridian will continue to grow and get more exciting every day. Remember our downtown; it is developing into the "place to go to" for cultural and culinary experiences. And in December, it will be home to the Night Light Christmas Parade. Stay tuned for details.
Jobs - We added 1,400 new jobs over the past two years. Meridian saw increases in health care, finance and insurance, certainly retail and food services - higher than the rest of the Valley. What we are really excited about is the rise in manufacturing jobs. They increased by 6 percent and this growth in manufacturing is a lot stronger than the rest of the state.
There is growing interest, participation and investment in our health science industry cluster, The CORE, and progress in developing The Fields and Public Safety Districts concepts with strategies to grow these industries and jobs.
Transportation - Now, I have been known to kind of beat the drum on transportation and certainly on interchanges! I am very happy to tell you that Meridian Interchange is not only on the books, it's funded and it is under design and growing momentum. This is an economic opportunity for our community and we want to make sure that it is done right. We have a task force that has been looking at the design plans and aesthetics, and seeking feedback. So, please, share your voice on this.
2012 was "a time like no other" with great successes and outcomes. This momentum is propelling us to reach new heights and opportunities in the next year.
Tammy de Weerd is mayor of Meridian.