Jan 13

2021 State of the City

Posted on January 13, 2021 at 9:46 AM by Darren Musselwhite

We all faced challenges in 2020 like never before.  As a city, we had to be quick on our feet and with our thinking to navigate through these unprecedented challenges.  We faced many risks and responded to all with the safety of our citizens always remaining paramount.  While it was a tough year, we must still count the many blessings bestowed upon us as we experienced an incredibly successful year!  I don’t know a more accurate way to tell you than, our city is thriving in every way!  We are enjoying tremendous success right now.  We expect another great year for the City of Southaven in 2021 as we have all the vital signs for continued success.  Our priorities of public safety, aggressive infrastructure improvement, revitalization, beautification, and recreational enhancement will continue to make our city more economically attractive, leading to continued financial stability, and ultimately making our city an even better place to live.

PUBLIC SAFETY

Fire Station #5…

Land has been secured adjacent to the curve on Star Landing Road just west of Getwell and the building designed for construction of our newest fire station which will improve protection to the southeastern part of our city and potentially improve our already- excellent “Class 3” fire rating.  Construction is projected to begin in the spring of 2021 with completion by year end.

Fire Hydrant Expansion in Annexed Areas…

Completion of phase 6 of 6 of a $7.4 million project to increase the size of water lines to meet Southaven’s fire hydrant standard and improve fire protection in all annexed areas is projected to be under construction along Stateline Road near the northwestern edge of our city in mid-2021.

Police Body Cameras…

For the first time in our city’s history, we have police officers actively wearing body cameras to ensure the utmost standards of professionalism and protect our officers from frivolous claims.

Police Officer Recruiting & Retention…

For the first time in 4 years, we have filled all positions that have been vacant due to the challenges in recruiting and retaining quality officers.  We have also added 6 new positions in 2021 and implemented an aggressive 3-year officer expansion plan.

Crime Statistics…

Our Police force does an incredible job with the large volume of calls and challenges we face, evidenced by reductions in many crime categories in 2020 and a general flat line in most categories over the last decade, all while our city continues to experience significant economic and general population growth.

AGGRESSIVE INFRASTRUCTURE IMPROVEMENT

Street Resurfacing…

We continue to increase our budget allocation each year to resurface our residential streets and arterial roads.  In the spring and summer of 2020, we completed $2.5 million and added another $3 million in the fall.

Drainage Improvement Projects…

$500,000 was allocated in 2020 and again in 2021 to complete projects previously causing problems for many years.

Stateline Road Resurfacing…

This $1.7 million project to resurface Stateline Road from I-55 east to Tchulahoma and Horn Lake Road west to Highway 301 was completed in January, 2020.

Snowden Grove Pedestrian Project…

Our citizens love this $769,500 federally-funded project, completed in 2020, that added a 10-foot wide multi-use trail throughout Snowden Grove Park.

Central/Snowden Grove Parks Multi-Use Trail…

This $1,371,981.65 project had been pending for 9 years waiting on MDOT co-op funding requirements until construction began in 2020.  This 10-foot wide multi-use pedestrian trail will connect Central and Snowden Grove Parks by routing along Tchulahoma and eventually May Blvd and also having another leg from Central Parkway along Getwell to Snowden Grove Park.  Completion is projected by year-end 2021.

Main Street Pedestrian Project…

This federally-funded pedestrian project costing $1,393,727.42, which will add sidewalks from Highway 51 along Main Street to Saucier Park on Northwest Drive, began construction in 2020 with completion projected in late 2021.

May Blvd Pedestrian Bridge…

The lowest and best bid was recently awarded in the amount of $1,998,158 for this project which will safely connect two major pedestrian trails and numerous pending developments on both sides of Getwell at May Blvd while also reducing vehicular traffic congestion interacting with pedestrians.  Construction will begin in March, 2021 with completion projected in September, 2021.

Getwell South Widening Project…

This federally-funded $8.7 million project to widen Getwell Road to five lanes from Church Road south to Star Landing Road with median and pedestrian paths has been pending federal requirements since 2015 and is projected to be under construction in mid-year 2021.

Horn Lake Creek Bridge Project…

Construction began in 2020 on this $2.4 million project to repair the Stateline Road Bridge over Horn Lake Creek that received financial assistance from the State’s Emergency Road and Bridge Repair Fund in the amount of $1,989,500 and Desoto County splitting the difference with the City.  Completion is projected in the third quarter of 2021.

Pepperchase Road Extension…

An example of cooperation at its best will make this state, county, and city co-op-funded $4.1 million project begin construction in late 2021 to extend this road from the Landers Center south to Highway 51 just north of Star Landing Road.  It will help tremendously with traffic congestion mitigation on Church Road.

Automated Meter Reader Water System…

The City has been studying this conversion from manual water meter reads to an automated system for over a decade.  This $7,855,035 automated system, currently being installed, increases efficiency significantly as it is projected to save $219,180 and add $543,528 in revenue from improved read accuracy totaling an estimated recurring annual benefit to the City of $762,708.

Greenprint 2040…

The City continues to cooperate with this formal Memphis-Metro plan to do our part in making our city and region more pedestrian friendly.  Sidewalks and bike lanes will continue to be added with new developments and existing streets as funding allows.

REVITALIZATION & BEAUTIFICATION

City Hall Renovation…

Construction was completed in 2020 for this $1.9 million project which beautifully renovated one of the oldest commercial buildings in Southaven, and in doing so, improved the safety of many City employees, the City’s marketing image, and added to the revitalization attractiveness of our original business district.

Monument Signs for City Entrances and High-Profile Intersections…

This project to add beautiful, brick-based signs with landscape lighting on I-55 and other intersections to beautify our city and improve our economic attractiveness began in 2019 with the completion of the I-55/Main and I-55/Star Landing signs.  The Goodman/Malone sign was completed in 2020 with Stateline/Getwell and Church/Malone scheduled to be completed in 2021.

Greenbrook Parkway Median Landscaping Project…

The final replanting and completion of this $20,576 project to remove poorly-grown crape myrtle trees and add new landscaping to improve the look of one of our original residential neighborhood entrances near Stateline Road was completed in 2020.

Wildflower Project in I-55 Median…

The City began utilization of the state beautification program named, “Wildflower Trails of Mississippi” in 2018 and has continued to cultivate and replant these beautiful flowers in the I-55 median between Goodman and Church Roads.

Right-of-Way Maintenance Improvement Program…

In previous years, the City has expanded Public Works personnel to bring formerly contracted jobs back to our own operation to improve the quality and overall cost efficiency of keeping our street/road right-of-ways maintained better.  This maintenance includes general grass/weed cutting, litter pickup, curb dressing, and landscape manicuring in designated high-profile areas.  We continue to strive for the highest standard as we use all avenues to combat the litter challenge, specifically, and improve the look of our streets/roads, in general.

West End Business District Incentive Progress…

Buildings continue to be renovated in this district defined in 2015 as businesses recognize the value of this incentive package to build new or renovate existing buildings.  The boundaries of this district encompass Main Street/Stateline Road between Highway 51 and Airways and Highway 51 between Main Street and Dorchester Drive.  These incentives include a 7-year tax freeze for ad valorem taxes for the increase in taxable value as well as a waiver of license, permit, and utility fees. 

Vintage Sign Ordinance…

For the purpose of incentivizing businesses in our original business district to remove faded and dilapidated signs/sign panels installed prior to and noncompliant with the current sign ordinance, the City passed this new ordinance for signs built prior to 1990.  This will allow and encourage businesses to improve the look of their signs by replacing panels and making other specified changes without the cost of replacing the entire signs.

Community Pride Awards & Adopt-a-Spot Beautification Program…

In 2018, we initiated the “Mayor’s Community Pride Team” which is composed of these two programs to award private property owners for their exceptional efforts to beautify their own properties and volunteers who beautify common areas of residential subdivisions, both ultimately improving property values and the economic attractiveness of our city,

PARKS & RECREATION ENHANCEMENT & EXPANSION

Greenbrook Indoor Softball Facility…

Construction was completed in 2020 for this 7,800 square-foot facility located near the main entrance to Greenbrook Park that houses four hitting/pitching tunnels with removable nets for a large multi-purpose training area, offices, concessions, bathrooms, and general assembly area.

Springfest Pavement Project…

No more mud at Springfest?  This $1,324,162 paving and landscaping project, completed in 2020, will eliminate the nuisance of mud and poor drainage, as well as beautify this area and serve a dual purpose for additional concert parking.  The Springfest logo stamped into concrete in the main walkway adds the exclamation point to the pride our citizens have in this special, longtime tradition.

Soccer Expansion at Snowden Grove Park…

The plan continues to diversify opportunities for our youth at Snowden Grove Park and better utilize all City facilities/properties.  This $5 million project will add 7 new soccer fields including bathroom, concession, and office facilities to the property just north of the bowling alley at Pine Tar Alley/Snowden Lane.  These new fields will complement the 5 existing fields on Stateline Road to bring more participation and use for all.  Construction began in early 2020 and completion is projected by March, 2021.  This expansion will also create significant tourism revenues for our city with the capability of hosting soccer tournaments, which also prompted the hiring of the City’s first Director of Soccer in 2020.

Artificial Turf at Snowden Grove & Greenbrook Parks…

After extensively studying the cost/benefit ratio of replacing the infield and foul line natural grass areas of the 25 baseball and softball fields at these two parks with artificial turf, the City began construction on this $6 million project in August, 2020.  The cost savings with field maintenance and opportunity-cost savings from eliminated rain-outs are projected to total a minimum of $500K every year.  Completion is slated before the first games scheduled in March, 2021.

Park Maintenance Shop…

In 2019, the City sold the 10.83 acres of property just north of the Fire and Police facilities on May Boulevard between Getwell Road and Snowden Lane which included the site where our park maintenance shop was located.  This property is in a key location for prospective development for the new owner, thus requiring us to relocate our park maintenance shop.  The new, $2.3 million facility, completed in 2020, is located just west of the Snowden Grove Tennis Complex and has the capacity to house the increased needs of our current and future maintenance operation brought about by the enhancement and expansion of our parks program.

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

Google…

In the summer of 2020, Google announced they had chosen Southaven as the location of their first-ever North American Operations Center.  This is obviously an incredible industrial development bringing global notoriety to our city.  This is a $26 million capital investment by Google in the 60,000 square- foot facility currently under construction on Airways Boulevard just north of Tanger Outlets.  This operation will create 100 new jobs when it opens in the third quarter of 2021 with plans to expand to 350.

Medline…

This is another “home run” development by another titan in the global industrial market.  Medline announced and started construction on a massive, 1.2 million square-foot facility in 2019 bringing a $46 million capital investment to our city and creating 450 new jobs.  Construction was completed in 2020 on this facility located just west of I-55 and just north of Star Landing Road.  Medline will use this facility to distribute medical supplies throughout the southeastern part of the United States.

Spectra Laboratories (Fresenius Medical Care Subsidiary)…

Construction was completed in 2020 for this $81 million capital investment in our city that houses 211,000 square feet of industrial space used for medical laboratory operations.  Spectra brought 304 new coveted, high-paying professional jobs to our city with plans to expand to 600.

General Industrial Statistics…

In addition to the monstrous developments by Google, Medline, and Spectra Labs, the City continues to be in demand for industrial development, in general.  In total, 2020 brought $186 million in industrial capital investments, 2.5 million new square footage in facility space, and approximately 1,050 new jobs.

Silo Square…

Tremendous progress was made in 2020 on this $200 million, 228-acre mixed-use development built with a town-square and pedestrian-friendly design.  Both the first commercial and residential occupancies occurred here in 2020 as did creation of the City’s first-ever “leisure and recreation” district.  This development has potential to be a regional tourism destination point and will pay huge dividends to our city economically for many years to come. 

Retail, Service, & Other Business…

Hotel development was among new developments halted by the virus pandemic, but the City still saw 363 new businesses open in 2020 (up from 251 in 2019) creating 866 new jobs in this sector.

New Building Permits…

The housing market is definitely back!  Residential building permits issued in 2020 totaled 474, up from 358 in 2019 and the highest since 2007.  The City also issued 16 commercial permits for new construction.

FINANCIAL STABILITY

No Property Tax Millage Increases…

Southaven has not had a property tax millage increase since 2006.  Our growing sales and tourism tax revenue from our economic success, along with sound financial management, has allowed us to hold this line tightly.  Southaven continues to be the largest municipality in Desoto County, but only the 4th highest taxing entity of the 7 total.

Growing Sales Tax Revenue…

$14,753,171 sales tax revenue in 2020 is the second highest in the City’s history ($15,148,749 in 2019) in spite of virus pandemic challenges and shows an excellent growth trend up from $12,499,170 in 2013.

Reserve Fund Policy…

The City continues to uphold the financial reserve policy of maintaining a minimum of 12% of General Fund in Unassigned Fund Balance.  Unassigned Fund Balance is the net cash available after all financial encumbrances.  This policy is not only important for financial stability, but also is a key factor in maintaining the City’s excellent bond rating.  Currently, this balance minimum is approximately $6.2 million.  For comparison, the City’s balance was $2.4 million in 2013.

Government Finance Officers Association Award for Excellence in Financial Reporting (5th consecutive year!)…

On December 31, 2020, the City received this prestigious award for the 5th consecutive time! This award is given only to about 5% of approximately 89,000 cities/counties in the United States and Canada for going beyond typical accounting procedures to meet the highest standards of governmental transparency and financial disclosure.

Unprecedented Property Values…

Real estate values are higher than ever before in our city’s history.  This is obviously a multi-factorial success contingent upon several national economic factors, but nonetheless, still an indicator of the current high demand to live and do business in our city

                       

Jan 05

Excellence in Transparency and Financial Disclosure

Posted on January 5, 2021 at 4:18 PM by Darren Musselwhite

Five years in a row!  Wow!  I’m so proud to report the following details regarding an incredible accomplishment for our city!  It honors us among a very small percentage of governmental entities in the United States.  One of my main goals when I took office in 2013 was to restore trust in our government and provide unprecedented transparency to my citizens who’ve entrusted me.  This involves many facets of our operation, but none more important than our accounting and financial reporting.  The team that surrounds me has proven to be nothing short of outstanding!

The City recently received our fifth consecutive Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting by the Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA) of the United States and Canada for our comprehensive annual financial report (CAFR) for fiscal year 2019 which ended September 30, 2019. 

The GFOA, which began in 1945 and has offices in Chicago, IL and Washington, D.C., exists to encourage and assist state and local governments to go beyond the minimum requirements of generally accepted accounting principles to prepare comprehensive annual financial reports that evidence the spirit of transparency and full disclosure. 

This certificate is the highest form of recognition in the area of governmental accounting and financial reporting, and its attainment represents a significant accomplishment by a government and its management.  There are over 89,000 local governments/districts in the U.S. and less than 5% receive this prestigious award annually.

Transparency and excellent financial reporting are an ongoing standard and priority with the City of Southaven and I am proud to acknowledge the outstanding efforts of Edi McIlwain, Director of Finance, Tish Cox, Comptroller, and Chris Wilson, Chief Administrative Officer.  This award is 100% credited to these super-talented people in our Finance and Administration Department and is important to the citizens of our city because it exemplifies the highest measure of financial integrity in our operations.
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Nov 19

Main Street Pedestrian Project

Posted on November 19, 2020 at 11:38 AM by Melitta Duncan

Recently, the City awarded the lowest and best bid to Ferrell Paving in the amount of $1,393,727.42 to begin construction on this long-awaited and long-planned project.  This project will add sidewalks on both sides of Main Street extending from Highway 51 to Northwest Drive, then carrying southward along Northwest Drive to City Hall and Saucier Park.  It will also add new mast arm traffic signals with pedestrian crossing options at the intersection of Whitworth/Main.

 The City received federal co-op money administered through MDOT in the amount of $991,341 allowing the City to fund this project completely with just $487,386.42 of City funds.  Projects like this get delayed from time to time due to property right-of-way and utility obstacles.  Projected completion of this project is in September, ‘21 and will be well worth the wait as it will help us with our goals of the revitalization of our original business district and the improvement of pedestrian options in our city.

 If you haven’t been to Saucier Park behind City Hall, you are missing a beautiful park.  Connecting this park to this new pedestrian path will add an excellent new amenity for our citizens.
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