City of Waco Annual Report 2016
A message from your Mayor...
I am honored to serve this amazing City as its Mayor. Having lived in Waco most of my life, I can’t remember a time when so many great things have been happening in our community. When I travel to other states and countries, I’m amazed how people get excited when they hear I’m from Waco. Now – compared to a decade ago – their image of Waco is one of a beautiful, attractive place that calls them to visit or live. When they do come, I regularly hear comments about how friendly our residents are. With pride I can tell them that Wacoans love their city and it’s the people who make it what it is.
There’s no question that we couldn’t have better Waco ambassadors than Chip and Joanna Gaines. The ongoing success of the Fixer Upper TV show and their Magnolia Market at the Silos continues to bring from 20 to 35 thousand visitors to our city each week. Through a collaborative effort with the Gaines’ and downtown merchants, the Silo Trolley was created to transport thousands of visitors throughout the downtown area to experience more of Waco. Our city staff have worked tirelessly to make our visitors welcome and to put them at the front door of many of our great businesses.
After receiving the coveted National Park Services designation and building great promotions, the Mammoth National Monument has more than doubled its annual attendance. Other attractions like Cameron Park Zoo, and the Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum have updated some of their exhibits to enhance their overall visitor experience. As a result of these efforts, the private hotel industry added approximately 350 new hotel rooms in 2016 to Waco’s offerings, and earned the ranking of 4th highest hotel occupancy rate in the State.
We continue to enjoy a strong cooperative relationship with Baylor University, MCC and TSTC to help meet their needs in educating students while attracting businesses that will help retain their graduates as citizens of Waco.
I am especially proud of the dedicated commitment of my fellow City Council members who, as volunteers, give many hours each week to continue the cooperative legacy of strong leadership that keeps our city on a firm foundation. Through their cooperative vision we have seen the opening of the new Dewey Community Center and the total renovation of the East Waco Library. The new and expanded Animal Shelter, which was able to maintain the coveted “no kill” status even during the renovation process – really shows the heart and dedication of our people and leaders. They authorized the launch of a much needed ten year capital improvement program to replace aging water and sewer infrastructure to assure dependable delivery of basic city services.
The real strength of a community is shown by the way its members deal with challenges. We continue to make major strides in addressing our high poverty rate, as the Prosper Waco initiative and the City work to improve the health, education and financial security for our citizens.
The City continues to adhere to the strong financial policy developed by previous councils who recognized the importance of long-range planning. City staffers continue to develop and manage a conservative budget while providing citizens the level of service they expect – without raising the tax rate. With the help of positive economic conditions led by higher-than-forecast sales tax receipts, the City of Waco’s bond rating is a strong AA+.
This Visions annual report is a way for many of the city’s departments to highlight just some of the ways we help make Waco a great place to live. I personally want to thank our business and community leaders and partners for helping reduce our unemployment rate to one of the lowest in the nation, and for helping create a positive business climate that continues to spark interest with major developers. I encourage our citizens to become involved in our city by volunteering for one of the many city boards or other community and church groups that continue to strengthen the fiber of this great city.
Mayor, City of Waco
A message from your City Manager...
2016 has been another exiting year to live in Waco! The cooperative relationships the City shares with the County, Baylor, MCC, TSTC, the three Chambers and so many others, are continuing to turn the dreams of yesterday into reality today.
Thousands of visitors are making Waco a one to three day overnight vacation destination and the plans to beginI’m proud of what an exciting year we’ve had in this city! We are truly focusing on sustaining a bright future for Waco with many projects.
Phase I of the Brazos Promenade Riverfront Development Project are locked in and construction will begin in 2017. I am honored to work with the six dedicated, volunteer Waco City Council members as they give direction and create policies that assure our citizens their city stays in a strong financial position and the use of historical tracts of city land fulfills the dreams passed down from prior Councils.
I also applaud our city staff who work tirelessly, every day to make Waco a beautiful and safe place to live, work and play.
Dale Fisseler, P.E.
Waco City Manager