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Cornelius starts 2012 with new faces and familiar challenges

City has begun monthly meetings with Cornelius businesses to hear comments, concerns

- Editor's Note: Cornelius Mayor Jef Dalin offered his unofficial 'state of the city' report by responding to some questions we posed to him last week.

Q: What were some highlights of 2011?

A: We completed the library concept plan, held our first Citizens Police Academy, had lots of qualified applicants to reform the City Council after the recall and 43 applicants for the job of city manager.

Q: What were some of the challenges of 2011 and how were they addressed?

A: We separated from our city manager and took a hit in the police budget to cover the unplanned severance costs, deferred hiring additional officers (planned for in the budget process). We appointed our police chief as interim city manager to continue the day-to-day operations and to avoid the cost of hiring an interim city manager.

We dealt with multiple allegations of charter violations against the former mayor, and sent them to an independent investigation firm for analysis to avoid any perception of impropriety from an internal analysis (another unplanned expense).

We were denied Urban Reserves for industrial land expansion. We presented our case at every opportunity but to no avail. We continue to seek opportunities to right this wrong, including going to the legislature in 2013.

We filled the mayor and city councilor positions vacated due to the recall through an open and transparent process that encouraged people with new ideas to get even more involved in their community.

Q: What are some of your goals for 2012?

A: We've already met one by including the community in hiring a new city manager (using interview boards made up of involved citizens, city manager peers, business owners, community program directors and the city council).

This week, we will begin city council goal setting (not done since 2010).

We will develop the 2012-13 budget at requested service levels with reduced revenues.

We will create an economic development plan that keeps the businesses we have and encourage new ones to join us.

The council has begun meeting monthly (at 7 a.m. the second Wednesday of each month) with businesses to understand what is working and what needs to change.

We also are recognizing Cornelius' own who have served in our armed forces with a new bench in Arboretum Park and, perhaps, a new park name.

Q: What are some long-term opportunities for Cornelius?

A: Our county is the economic powerhouse of the state, with our Silicon Forest filled with highly skilled labor, a diverse work force, incredibly intelligent people and our vision to self-fund what needs to get done (with local gas taxes and various user fees) Cornelius has the opportunity to house this work force and provide industrial land for sub-suppliers.

Q: How about long-term challenges?

A: We need sufficient usable land, planned and ready to go, so family-wage businesses will come knocking and when they do, we can react in a reasonable time frame (much like the large lot industrial inventory report developed by the Port of Portland).

Q: Are there any members of the community who deserve recognition for contributions in 2011?

A: Yes, all those who have donated their time to make our community better by their efforts (volunteer fire fighters, coaches, library help, community policing, boards and commissions members, scout leaders, etc.) and of course our armed service personnel serving all over the world.