As I end my role as mayor, I am jazzed. While the tendency is to focus on what's wrong with the city, the truth is the city has had a very successful year. In April, council set five strategic goals: Improve the built environment; fiscal sustainability; economic development; partnership development; and build trust and accountability.
We have achieved significant milestones with each priority. What the city has accomplished should be a source of great pride for our community.
This year alone, we built Lakeview Commons, Bonanza Park, as well as highway and water quality improvement projects. We did the necessary but emotional hard work to get our budget in balance. We are on the verge of adopting a new TRPA Regional Plan. We have worked effectively with the federal, state and local entities in the Lake Tahoe Basin to achieve success on a number of issues and projects, allowing great cohesiveness.
Most importantly, the city has worked very hard to connect and communicate with our citizens through neighborhood meetings, public workshops, the city's text notification system and our interactive city website where you can get answers.
The city has done a great job in the face of serious economic and social problems. Unfortunately many problems we face require a robust economy to solve. As the nation rebuilds, so should the Lake Tahoe Basin. We must rebuild ourselves into the place to visit for tourists, recreational enthusiasts and outdoor lovers. But that work starts now. For more than a decade, we had looked at what we would like to do. It's been institutionalized in the city's general plan and the Pathways project. Now we need to get it done, one small piece at a time.
We can create an environmentally sound and economically sustainable place, and still maintain a small-town community. We just need the will to do so. Often we bicker over the small stuff, not realizing how much it is costing us on the big picture. Change is uncomfortable, but the status quo is crippling.
The city must rebuild as well, not in terms of size but in terms of efficiency. To do so, we must focus on quality core services, like public safety, snow removal and parks and recreation, that first defined the city in 1965.
Also on the city's agenda this year is a regional recreation master plan, the Harrison Avenue business district, legacy health benefits and Fixin' Fifty.
This next year will be busy, and unfortunately just as difficult as the last few. Despite the hardships, the city and your City Council are making real gains, setting some achievable and critical priorities and envisioning a more robust and exciting future.
I thank the council and this city for the honor of serving as mayor. It's been an exciting and humbling experience.
- Claire Fortier is the mayor of South Lake Tahoe.