(02/06/14) - Saginaw is moving in the right direction. That's according to
leaders who spoke at Thursday's State of City and County Address.
Things look good now, but leaders are crossing their fingers.
"Last year we had a much tougher budget circumstance, and so it's a little bit relieved this year, but still holding our breath," said County Commission Board chairman Mike Hanley.
Inside the Dow Event Center, hundreds gathered to listen to city and county leaders discuss the area's current condition.
"This is a message to the citizens of what Saginaw has to offer. We are very open on the challenges, but also the amenities that sometimes we take for granted," said Saginaw Mayor Dennis Browning.
The positives - Hanley says more revenue sharing dollars could be on the way.
"The governor's budget was proposed and it increases our revenue sharing by I think $915,000, so that's really great news," Hanley said.
It's money that will help the area progress and provide stability with public safety funding.
Another good sign - several new business developments, including the redesign of the Bancroft and Eddy apartment buildings in downtown Saginaw.
"Who is moving into these? Young professionals and that's what we are excited about," Browning said.
But there are challenges - Browning says the city must keep the crime rate down.
"We are seeing a reduction in our homicides and shootings. We want to keep that momentum going," he said.
Another concern - "Our retiree health insurance cost," Hanley said.
Saginaw's Mayor also talked about his concern over a major plant closure and the possible closing of Saginaw High School.
TRW automotive plant announced it will close this month, leaving 600 employees without a job.
"That's pretty devastating to the city. That is revenue from the city income tax that takes effect immediately," Browning said.
On top of that, Saginaw Public Schools are debating whether or not to close a high school. The change would dramatically alter the makeup of the city, but Browning says it's time to restructure.
"Unfortunately, one of the high schools is probably going to have to close," he said.
It's a decision Browning says is tough, but something he says school and city leaders will have to deal with in order to progress.
"But it's the right decision to downsize or what we call 'right size,'" he said.
Leaders say they're crossing their fingers and hoping the area continues to see positive change.
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