City of Waco Annual Report 2018
A message from Mayor Deaver
It continues to be an honor to serve the citizens of Waco as your Mayor and this has been an exciting year. Holding this prestigious office allows me to be involved in many conversations with a variety of community-minded individuals and organizations centered around the health and well-being of our citizens. Waco has vast natural resources and a strategic location. For decades its mayors, city council members and community leaders have envisioned what it could become to the state and the nation. Now more than ever before, those visions continue to become a reality as the City of Waco and its many community partners welcome more and more visitors, new residents and businesses to our area.
Tourism continues to be a strong contributor to Waco's economy with over 2.6 million people coming to visit our many attractions and events in 2018, an enormous change from the 800,000 in 2015. This past year Waco had the highest hotel occupancy in the state which fostered hoteliers to add 212 new rooms with 452 more under construction. Currently, there are an additional 843 more rooms planned. Our Convention Center had strong increases in events and attendees and the planned expansion of the Extraco Events complex will help sustain the impact tourism has on our economy.
City staff and Council continue to look to the future to sustain and improve our City's infrastructure. The 2016 $320 million Building Waco Capital Improvement Program over ten years, to expand the capacity of our water and wastewater service throughout our city, continues while research and planning for a new regional landfill is underway. Additionally, staff continues to work on a Regional Water and Storm Water Master Plan and the development of the downtown River-Front Promenade project. Although our City has earned an impressive AA+ bond rating based on our strong financial management performance and policies, city staff has accepted the Council's challenge of expanding our street maintenance program in coming years using existing general fund dollars, all without raising the tax rate.
The real strength of a community is shown by the way its members deal with challenges. We continue to make strides in addressing our unacceptably high poverty rate as the City works with our Prosper Waco collective impact initiative to improve the health, education and financial security of our residents. We are working closely with TxDOT as they embark on a five-mile, five-year, massive Interstate 35 expansion project that will provide increased capacity for the hundreds of thousands of vehicles coming through our city.
This Visions annual report is a way for many of our departments to highlight just some of the ways they help make Waco a great place to live. In his first year as Waco's City Manager, native Wacoan Wiley Stem III is the perfect person with over 42 years of working at the City to take us into the future. He, along with the directors of the twenty-five departments within the city, have led our over 1,500 city employees to deliver to our residents the higher level of services they expect while planning for the growth and expansion of important infrastructure.
I applaud all of our business and community leaders for working together to make Waco great by helping to make our unemployment rate 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 residents 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
For me personally and professionally, 2018 was a life-changing year, and an exciting time to be a Wacoan! At the beginning of the year as we celebrated the retirement of Dale Fisseler in appreciation of his great work as City Manager, I stepped into the role. Waco is a part of who I am, and I'm proud to be a part of its future.
The honor is mine 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.
Our City staff, many of whom I have worked with for decades, continue to work tirelessly every day to make Waco a beautiful and safe place to live, work and play.
Wiley Stem III
Waco City Manager