Meridian mayor delivers annual State of the City address

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On Wednesday afternoon, Meridian Mayor Robert Simison delivered his third State of the City Address. 

Simison took the stage at Galaxy Events Center inside Wahooz to chat to a packed crowd about all things pertaining to Meridian with a focus on transportation, infrastructure, and public safety.

The mayor spoke about the challenges the community and the state have faced the past two years, all while emphasizing what he says makes Meridian special.

“I want to encourage people coming to Idaho to get to know what has made us special,” he said. “The rugged individualism balanced with the expectation that we help one out in times of need. That we are courteous and nice. You’ve chosen to come to Idaho for a reason. It is not what you left. It has taken generations and decades for Idaho to become this special place. Let’s be sure we are not destroying what has made us who we are and letting the last two years define find us.”

Budget 

Mayor Simison talked about how the city plans to spend money from the American Rescue Plan Act. This includes cyber security system improvements, addressing city health care costs, and energy efficiency projects that will lower the operational costs of utilities. 

This led the mayor to talk about what has been the number one budget-related need: improved transportation. Simison says this is according to various surveys. Improvements that he mentioned included the Linder Road Overpass and various Eagle Road safety improvements.

“Why must this road be driven at 55 miles per hour in Meridian when it has the busiest intersections in the state with the highest traffic volume? It doesn’t need to be nor is it possible during most times of the day,” he said. “Eagle road will soon be resurfaced, which will impact road operations. Our partners need to consider whether the speed limit or access points need to change as well… now is the time to make safety improvements to Eagle Road corridor.”

Infrastructure & more

Simison took a moment to highlight some projects that are coming to Meridian. This includes the sporting goods store Scheels, Top Golf, and In-N-Out. Simison called these “major investments” that he hopes will help make the city an entertainment destination in the Treasure Valley. 

While on the subject of growth, Simsion brought up how more jobs are coming to Meridian. He said in 2021, the city added more than 4,900 jobs. 

“These businesses are here for a reason,” he said about certain businesses expanding or coming to Meridian. “And they are choosing to stay here with a favorable business environment and a central location where Meridian is and will continue to be the destination location for businesses to call home.”

Simison spoke of infrastructure and said a frequent question he gets asked is, is Meridian keeping up with infrastructure needs?

With that, Simison said infrastructure comes in many forms like water and sewer. He added that he is proposing the first rate increase in eight years to help with the rising costs of construction. 

[McLean calls on Boise to innovate in the face of challenges at annual State of the City address]

He nodded to another infrastructure need, which is how the city can best deploy police and fire services. He highlighted new fire and police stations that have recently been planned. 

“Our ability to leverage building all these facilities together is a cost savings for the city. More important than the cost savings, however, is that once these projects are completed, we can more adequately provide the life safety services this community expects and pays for their property tax,” he said. “Additionally, it will help us reduce our ISRB rating, which will be a financial benefit to all those who own property in Meridian.”

Simison also took a moment to speak of the recent Uvalde shooting tragedy. The mayor then said he is proposing an additional six School Resource Officers for West Ada elementary schools in Meridian.

“Safety is our number one priority in Meridian, and work is being done with our law enforcement and the school district to help stem potential acts of violence, but we need to do more now,” Simison said.

Calling out the legislature

Like his last State of the City Address, Mayor Simsion took a couple of moments to call out the legislature.

He said it was “vital” for the state to fully fund education, so schools no longer have to rely on bonds and levies to fund projects. 

 “I feel like we put together a great way for the governor and legislature to provide property tax relief while placing the responsibility funding 100% of education, including the building of schools where it belongs with the state of Idaho.,” Simison said. “It is vital that our state take up its constitutional responsibility to fully fund education… The funds are there. I’m once again calling on them.” 

Autum Robertson - BoiseDev Reporter
Autum Robertson - BoiseDev Reporter
Autum Robertson is a BoiseDev reporter focused on Meridian and McCall. Contact her at [email protected].

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