Mayor Carolyn Goodman showed up a little late to address the people of Las Vegas Thursday evening—she and her driver, an Elvis impersonator, spent the day exploring southern Nevada in a pink Cadillac. A video before her hour-long address showed her driving past the Mob Museum (the 19th rated museum on TripAdvisor), the Lou Ruvo Center (which has now treated over 95,000 patients) and other places around the Valley. The fashionably late mayor stood behind the podium in front of a packed house. Much of this year’s address echoed what the mayor said last year in regards to mental health treatment and Medicaid reimbursement rates, but there is no doubt there have been a lot of changes in 2016 as well. Here’s what we took away from her State of Vegas address.
Recognizing Last Year’s Accomplishments
Mayor Goodman started her address with gloomy news, saying that there are clear signs of federal spending cutbacks that the city is expecting with the new administration. She expects the cuts will affect Community Development Block Grants, further challenging “already stressed social services.”
“Investments in Downtown have helped spread the word, too, that we are back in business.”—Mayor Carolyn Goodman
“We will pursue our own positive expectations, our planning and commitments to you, our citizens,” she says. “You drive what we do and how we do it.”
Goodman followed by recognizing 2016’s successes. Las Vegas was the first city in the entire world supported completely by renewable energy, which she says will save the taxpayers $5 million. Las Vegas is being awarded by the U.S. Conference of Mayors with a $150,000 grant to fight childhood obesity. LVCA reported that 42.9 million tourists visited Las Vegas in 2016; the mayor says we will surpass 43 million in 2017 and reach 2.2 million residents. She mentioned the new businesses that opened in the past year including several Downtown establishments such as Eclipse Theaters, ReBar and the Promenade at the Juhl. She also gave a special nod to the newest casino, Lucky Dragon.
“Investments in Downtown have helped spread the word, too, that we are back in business,” Goodman says, later mentioning the coming renovations to the Las Vegas Club.
Downtown casinos are leading in gaming revenue for the second year in a row and is also leading the state in occupancy growth. “Tourists have come to know and love the intimacy of the Downtown experience,” she said.
She nodded to RTC assessing and improving all modes of transportation in the future and highlighted the renewal of the fuel tax index to support the city’s infrastructure.
Shoutouts to the Five Wards
The mayor acknowledged each of the city council members and their accomplishments such as Councilwoman Lois Tarkanian’s (ward 1) development of the Medical District with the UNLV Medical School that is enrolling its charter class this fall.
For Downtown (Ward 3), she recognized Councilman Bob Coffin for “shepherding in new business,” highlighting the Federal Justice Tower, the in-the-works Fremont 9 apartment complex, and the soon-to-open Nevada Supreme Court and Court of Appeals building, which she says is the “embodiment of our strength and relevance of our great city of Las Vegas.”
Councilman Ricki Barlow’s (ward 5) area includes the Smith Center, which will meet its 2 million visitor mark soon. “Symphony Park is about to see explosive growth” with 500 housing units coming, and a new garage near the Premium Outlets. She also brought up a new medical mixed-used facility to the east and north side of the Cleveland Clinic.
“Five hardcore areas” of focus in 2017
The mayor concluded her address on the main concerns she will continue to work on in this new year. She says she will continue to support law enforcement, fire and rescue teams and meet with homeland security to bring urban area security funding.
“The city has been the mouse that roared for over 17 years about bringing major league sports to Las Vegas.”
Similar to last year’s address, the mayor says that we are failing to attract and keep good physicians because Medicaid insurance reimbursement rates pale in comparison to neighboring states.
She says our Corridor of Hope homeless service area is so overburdened and the mentally ill homeless population is growing. “The recycling of this population is not working.” A vacant facility in Jean used for CCSD storage could be transformed into a medical and psychological treatment facility.
“The city sees and feels the pains of the failure of CCSD,” Goodman says, and that they will no longer throw money at it. She said the least amount of funding is dedicated to academics, $5,200 per student, which she calls appalling. “Why do we tolerate this?” An additional $7,000 will be added to that number from an assessment of what’s being spent now in the CCSD central offices.
Finally, the mayor is still determined to bring us a major league sports team, most likely soccer, Downtown. “The city has been the mouse that roared for over 17 years about bringing major league sports to Las Vegas.” She said Cashman Field makes the “most compelling argument” to use as a site. The infrastructure and parking spaces already exist, and there will be seven access points once Project Neon is complete.