Mayor Schmitt: "We are on the cusp of something great, here."

14th State of the City address for Mayor Schmitt
Posted at 11:00 PM, Apr 12, 2017
and last updated 2017-04-13 04:10:46-04

Mayor Jim Schmitt is highlighting his vision for the city in his 14th "State of the City" address.

The focus: economic development, and city growth.

Wednesday night's speech is coming in the midst of an at-times stormy relationship with the City Council over several issues, including an attempt to remove Schmitt from office.

City aldermen say they're pushing through the "bad politics," and working toward they city's goals.

In the mayor's eyes, Green Bay's future is bright. 

"We're on the cusp of some great things here," said Schmitt at the beginning of his speech.

Schmitt says recruiting new talent must be a collective goal to grow the city. According to the mayor, experts project Green Bay will grow at a rate of less than 1% annually. The hope, says Schmitt, is to double projections through partnerships, and sharing the city's "success story."

"Now, we don't have to be Milwaukee," added Schmitt, "but we have to grow at a rate greater than 1%." 

The mayor says it's possible through efforts, including a 3-year, $1 million commitment to revitalizing neighborhoods next to the city's shipyards, and moving the East Branch Library to the East Town Mall.

"This new location could provide the east side with 21st century library services," explains Schmitt, "ample parking, and address the needs of a growing population." 

Mayor Schmitt also addressed the controversial $44 million Hotel Northland project.

Construction has all but stopped since a senior lender pulled a $12 million loan.

"I think if we stay focused for the next 2-3 weeks, and secure a senior lender, that hotel can open up this year," says Schmitt.  

Following the speech, alderman admit there have been several frustrations with the project, but feel confident in its completion soon. 

“Over the last few weeks here, we’ve been.. probably better informed of some of the projects that are going on, and upcoming," says Dist. 6 Alderman Joe Moore. "We’re getting better status updates, and status reports.” 

"We all agree on one thing: we need to get this done, and we need to get it done this year," says City Council President Tom De Wane. "So, that's our focus." 

Mayor Schmitt also announced a partnership with Green Bay Metro and Green Bay Public Schools, allowing students to ride the metro free of charge, year-round, starting in June. 



In Mayor Schmitt's own words, here are some other highlights from Wednesday night's address:

  • “Green Bay hasn’t raised taxes for 5 years, and has held true to a tax rate of $8.86 per thousand.”
  • “Green Bay’s credit rating is a AA, too, and it’s been that way for years.” 
  • “Property crime and theft are all down.”
  • “Last year, we’re happy to report we replaced 340  lines," says Mayor Schmitt, referencing the use of $300,000 in excess stadium sales tax, and a $500,000 principal forgiveness loan from the DNR to further the replacement of residential lead pipes in homes, "and we’ll have 100% of the lead lines replaced in the very near future.” 

Mayor Schmitt also says the city:

  • allocated $1.4 million (in excess stadium sales tax) to help fund Public Works to continue to fix problem railroad crossings
  • in 2018 plans on entering "phase 1" of a project to connect the East River Trail with the Fox River Trail and Johannes Park, linking downtown to the surrounding communities, and connecting the Fox River Trail to the Baird Creek Trail
  • has adopted a master plan for the Legends DIstrict, which calls for a mix of residential commercial space in 90 acres east of Holmgren Way and south of Lombardi
  • continuing development of Titletown Brewing