"It has been a pleasure to serve as the Mayor of Salina. I would like to say to my fellow commissioners that I am proud of how well this commission has worked together to help move Salina forward in a positive manner. I need to thank my wife Polly for her support, and the staff at Land Title Service for holding down the fort while I was out of the office on city matters.
Salina has made and will continue to make significant investments in our infrastructure. Currently, between $8 and $9 million is spent a year on streets, $2 million is budgeted for water main replacement, and $2 million for maintenance on water and sewer infrastructure. Currently, there is a major update being completed on our wastewater treatment plant. None of this is glamorous, but I hope this shows the dedication city staff and the commission have in keeping Salina's infrastructure in good shape. We have put in place a Capital Improvement plan. This will allow the city to be proactive instead of reactive when it comes to the replacement of various equipment and facility upgrades. A New Station Alerting system/Computer-aided Dispatch has been installed at all Fire stations, which I believe is a first for the state of Kansas. From everything we have heard from the fire department, this is viewed as a major improvement. Several major projects have taken place within our park system. Bill Burke Park had additional restrooms added, with existing restrooms updated, all infields were turfed, with final updates to the facility being completed this winter. A large part of this cost is being financed using transient guest tax, which takes some of the burden off the local taxpayer. A new tennis facility was completed and is up and running. Through the generous gift of anonymous donors, new pickleball courts were completed and are in use at Oakdale Park.
A pay plan study was recently completed by the City of Salina. This has helped the commission and staff adjust the salaries of city employees, allowing us to bring in a qualified workforce while retaining the workforce we currently have. We continue to see additional economic growth in Salina. Schwan's recently completed a major expansion and is already adding on a large cold storage facility. Kubota/Great Plains Manufacturing purchased the old Philips building and is adding a state-of-the-art paint booth. Beck's Seed has broken ground on a facility on North Ohio Street near I-70. Pure Imagination, in cooperation with K-State Salina, is building a 55,000-square-foot, 41-million-dollar facility at the airport. This facility will bring unique career opportunities to Salina, as this is a company that does virtual reality.
To help meet Salina's housing needs, the city of Salina used 2 State of Kansas programs never used before, helping to bring down the cost of workforce housing. Both the Ryan Addition and Aero Plains Addition are using both programs MIH (Moderate Income Housing Program) and RHID (Rural Housing Incentive District). Several years ago, a significant investment was made in Downtown Salina by both the City of Salina and the private sector. This investment continues to pay major dividends. Star Bond receipts have caught up and are now exceeding original projections. 2023 saw several new businesses locate or renovate buildings downtown (Examples: Flipping Fabulous, Clubhouse Golf, Red Fern Bookstore, Hive Salon & Spa, and Salina Urology Associates). First Bank Kansas/Advantage Trust also expanded its presence downtown and completed a major renovation/façade update.
There is also considerable construction going on in the downtown area now.
a. 2nd Phase of the Lee Lofts is under construction, bringing 50 more apartments to downtown.
b. United Capital Management is updating the facade and renovating part of the 200 block of N. Santa Fe.
c. Salina Art Center is in the process of remodeling its facility.
d. Prairie Land Market is expanding and moving to the 100 block of S. Santa Fe.
e. Todd Welsh has purchased the Sharp Performance Building and will be putting in a coffee shop while moving the Salina Homes offices to the newly renovated location.
(In closing) I would like to personally thank Commissioner (Karl) Ryan for his 8 years of dedication to the City of Salina. I am not sure there has ever been a period that has seen this kind of activity over an 8-year timeframe. Karl, you should take great pride in your contribution to the direction Salina is currently headed. I've always appreciated Karl's disposition and the calmness that he brings to the commission. Karl reminds me of one of my grandfathers, in the fact that he doesn't always say much, but when he does one should listen as his comments are usually right on point and very insightful. Serving with you these last 6 years has been a pleasure and an honor, my friend.
Finally, I personally believe that Salina is doing it right, and we are looked at by many cities within the state as a community to emulate. Thank you!"
Former Mayor Mike Hoppock