Mayor’s State of the City Address: The Year of Covid, Universities and Renewed,

On Wednesday, Palm Coast Mayor Milissa Holland delivered the annual State of the City address on the City’s YouTube channel and Facebook page. A full transcript. ofHolland’s prepared remarks is below.

Citizen of the Year – Greg Peters, Pastor of Parkview Baptist Church. Peters was honored for his partnership and efforts in mobilizing the community behind the successful ‘Feed Palm Coast’ initiative. Peters also continued efforts to support food drives, brought the community together with the Palm Coast Unites event, and other charitable work. You can watch the video of the award presentation here:

Public Safety Award – Bob Snyder, Florida Department of Health in Flagler County – Administrator; Dr. Stephen Bickel, Florida Department of Health in Flagler County – Medical Director; Jonathan Lord, Flagler County Emergency Management Director; and Gerard Forte, City of Palm Coast Fire Chief. The local response to the COVID-19 crisis was a collaborative response between the DOH-Flagler, Flagler County Emergency Operations Center, and the City of Palm Coast Fire Department. The coordination and strong teamwork among the agencies helped keep the community informed as well as aiding the City leadership to make sound informed decisions throughout the crisis. You can watch the award presentation here:

Next Generation Award – Brandy DeMarco, City of Palm Coast Firefighter. DeMarco has shown a strong commitment to her family, community and nation. She is a graduate of the Fire Department’s intern program and moved on to become a career firefighter while also holding an additional job. She also served in the U.S. military. You can watch the award presentation here:

Here’s the text of Holland’s speech, with the video below:

Hello. I’m Mayor Milissa Holland and I would like to extend warm greetings from sunny Palm Coast, Florida. This year your city leaders conquered complex challenges and celebrated strategic successes all through a year of unprecedented uncertainty. We stayed focused – paying close attention to the needs of our developing community, we strengthened partnerships and stayed attuned to ever-changing opportunities to deliver on your priorities.

2020 was a year that Palm Coast’s connections with local and regional partners proved that being part of something greater makes Palm Coast more resilient, more capable and more durable.

I’m proud to be part of this collaboration of leaders who have worked together to realize so many incredible achievements for our City. My focus for this annual State of the City presentation is to share with you how our focus on you, our residents, and the vision we have set together for our city has empowered our community and set us on an exciting path forward.

The public health crisis presented our community with the broadest challenge we have ever faced as a City. Our way of life has been disrupted, local businesses impacted, and we grieve for all of those we have lost.

Through it all our staff and community has faced this challenge head on and I am proud of how we responded this past year and continue to respond today.

Our City Hall closed in March, but that did not mean serving our residents stopped. The IT Department acted swiftly to provide remote work options for staff. Departments innovated to continue to provide services such as online permitting and virtual inspections.

The Palm Coast Fire Department worked alongside county emergency management officials to deliver safe and timely responses to all calls for service. Firefighters applied new ways to better protect themselves on the job such as wearing reusable and sanitized head gear to cope with the significant shortages of PPE and deliver continuous services to the community.

We also coordinated information from the Florida Department of Health through a series of nineteen virtual town halls that saw an average over one thousand views weekly. And our communications team helped share important emergency information with the community via various channels including the city web site and social media.

The community came together to take care of our neighbors. Through great community partnerships together we raised $100,000 and provided 10,000 boxes of food to 3,500 cars at Town Center in May. Remaining funds have been used to support local food pantries and food drives. Thank you to our community partners, volunteers, and those who have risen up to help.

When it came time to reopen city amenities, departments, facilities, and reintroduce events and programming the Fire Department leadership provided instruction aligned with CDC guidance to do so safely.

Additionally, as vaccines have been coming into our community … our Customer service reps pitched in helping answer calls for information in coordination with the Flagler County Emergency Operations Center.

We remain vigilant and doing all we can to keep residents and visitors safe until this crisis is behind us.

Our City has grown to nearly 90,000 residents and expected to expand to almost 130,000 in the next ten years. And that trend will continue in the years beyond.

It is no surprise either. The vision set forth in the Prosperity 2021 plan set the stage for the Strategic Action Planning we adopted 4 years ago. The plan was to grow our local economy by creating vibrant places, making our city attractive and competitive and fostering inviting neighborhoods. The strategic investments we have made and continue to make in our infrastructure, amenities, activities, and safety of our community make Palm Coast an attractive place for individuals and businesses.

Through uncertain and challenging times we have remained diligent to be good stewards of our financial resources. The City of Palm Coast remains financially sound and proud to say that we have zero municipal debt.

We are committed to being transparent as our residents expect and deserve. . We have managed a budget for all of our services and goals. Our budget allocation increased from FY2020 to FY2021 and we are continuing to allocate those valuable financial resources to invest in our community.

Property tax revenue allows us to support the services that are vital to protecting and maintaining our community such as fire, police, street maintenance, and more.

Sales tax revenue is a vital source of revenue to our community. Those dollars are put back into our community and help provide for capital improvements like additional baseball fields, facility and park upgrades, our roads, and so much more. Spending locally and supporting our local economy benefits us all. It was encouraging to see, and reflective in local sales tax performance, that 66% of respondents to our recent Citizen Survey said they were aware of the benefits and 70% said they changed their shopping habits to buy more locally. Those are the reasons for our efforts behind the Be Local Buy Local campaign.

We are seeing one of the most exciting times in our history. Through solid planning, strategic investments, partnerships, and execution we are realizing a boom in economic development and opportunity. We have created vibrant places, making our city attractive and competitive and fostering inviting neighborhoods.

Palm Coast Town Center boasts nearly 1600 acres. As defined by the Brookings Institute, an Innovation District “facilitates the creation and commercialization of new ideas and support for economies by growing jobs in ways that leverage their distinct economic attributes.” That idea is a reality within our own Innovation District which is becoming the hub of an ecosystem that will be home to business incubators, universities, retail shops, parks, health care and high-tech companies, and most importantly a center for creating the jobs of the future:  530 of the 1,000…

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