La Vista laid the groundwork on multiple major projects in 2019, and that means 2020 holds several major decisions city leaders will need to make.
Mayor Doug Kindig said many of the city’s 2019 highlights revolved around the City Centre development and 84th Street. Construction on the development made significant progress as First National Bank opened, a first round of restaurants and bars were announced and tenants started paying rent in apartments. Just to the north, the Civic Center Park trail opened.
Economic growth continued in the city’s Southport shopping area. Multiple restaurants moved in and major employers in the area, like Securities America and biotech company Streck, committed their workforce to La Vista with expansions of their headquarters.
An emotional highlight was when the city dedicated a stretch of street into the City Centre development in honor of Joe Barmettler, a longtime city attorney who died in 2016. His family was in town for Salute to Summer and were named Friends of La Vista.
The city also gathered community input about a potential new municipal pool.
Kindig said it is decisions about major projects like the pool, next steps on 84th Street, a new budget and the completion of Civic Center Park that city leaders will need to prioritize in the coming year while also managing economic development and infrastructure throughout the city and evaluating city departments.
“We want to show (the City Council) everything, but then we have to prioritize on how we get there,” he said. “So that’s really going to be major decisions that they’re going to have to make over the next four to five months.
“I can guarantee the citizens that the amount of work the staff is being asked to do isn’t going down. They’re just as busy as ever.”
First up is the pool. Kindig said the council will likely decide early in the year what to do with the potential municipal pool, where they want it, what it will include and when any plans will be carried out.
Like all of the decisions council makes, Kindig said those decisions will be made based on the community input the city has gathered over the past few months.
“The involvement of our citizens has been critical to the direction that we go and we continue to do that,” he said.
The city will be able to finish the rest of Civic Center Park as development on 84th Street and City Center progresses. The trail is open, but landscaping and potential amenities like education areas, picnic tables or a boathouse for paddle boats will be chosen by council and added during the year.
Kindig said he expects City Centre’s music venue to open, three or four other buildings to be under construction and restaurants and bars to open at some point during the year.
“So 2020 we should see a lot of construction up in our 84th Street development,” he said.
La Vista is in the second year of its two-year budget, so the City Council and staff will work on a new two-year budget to cover the 2020-21 and 2021-22 fiscal years. Kindig said the council will give direction to city staff to develop a budget, but he doesn’t anticipate any major changes.
Kindig said the city won’t raise its tax levy and will need to incorporate new revenue from a restaurant tax the council passed this fall. The council will get a first look at those revenues when it meets in January.
“That’s going to be a learning experience because it was kind of a guesstimate” on the amount of revenue it would bring in, he said.
At the state level, La Vista will keep tabs on any bills related to tax reform and business incentives, Kindig said.
Transparency with business incentives at the state level has been an issue for cities, Kindig said, because those cities never knew how much sales tax was going to be withheld, which made it difficult for those cities to budget.
“We will continue to work on transparency and local control at the state level,” he said.