By Karen Daniels
Last Wednesday, Stafford held their annual State of the City address, and Mayor Leonard Scarcella wasted no time telling everyone that a lot had changed for the city in the last 72 hours. He was referring to, of course, the announcement of the closing of Texas Instruments, Stafford’s number one commercial citizen for the last forty-five years. Mayor Scarcella and the Council Member’s were quick to embrace the shuttering of the T.I. properties as a positive opportunity for the city and stated that every effort would be made to make full and desirable use of this real estate. Two decades ago T.I. represented 25% of the Stafford economy; today that number is closer to 2 ½%. Mayor Scarcella said the following, “T.I. has been good to Stafford and Stafford has been good to T.I. How they leave the City remains to be seen.”
As you know, Stafford is the “City with No Property Taxes” and the commitment to continue this was maintained. The approximate breakdown of the City’s revenue is as follows: Retail 40%; Wholesale 15%; Manufacture 8%; Accommodations and Food 9%, and Other 27%. Not bad for a city that is only seven square miles.
On the issue of crime, there is good news to report. Stafford had an 11% decrease in violent crimes and property crimes between 2010 and 2011, and has a clearance rate of 24%. The fire department reports an impressive 5.74 minute response time and has an exemplary “Class 1” ISO insurance rating. Simply put, Stafford has cheaper fire insurance for homes and businesses.
Goals for 2012 include protecting their water rights, exploring consideration of a recycling a program and smoke-free restaurants, fighting the efforts by Union Pacific Rail Road to add a second track, and to continue to elevate the Stafford Centre, to name a few.
At the end of the meeting the floor was opened to anyone who wanted to address the Mayor and Council Members with questions or concerns. Of the three people who spoke, two had the same complaint about the new Staffordshire road at the Willow intersection. Both spoke about safety concerns due to excessive speed and poor visibility. A four-way stop sign was suggested by both citizens whose homes back up to this road. It was explained by the City Engineer, Charles Russell, that ongoing monitoring of this intersection is being done and that a certain criteria must be met before they could put up a stop sign or signal light. In the meantime, it was suggested that an increased presence by police in this area could help.