City of Columbia Missouri Year in Review 2017


[MUSIC PLAYING] The City of Columbia has enjoyed
another award-winning year focused on compassion,
and public service, and the goal of making Columbia
the best place for everyone to live, work, learn, and play. For the third year
in a row, Columbia has made the Center for Digital
Government’s Top 10 list. The Center for Digital
Government’s Annual Digital Cities Survey recognizes
cities using technology to improve citizen services,
enhance transparency, increase security, and encourage
citizen engagement. Columbia placed eighth in its
category based on population. This year, the city was
recognized for its efforts to improve citizen services with
the development of mobile apps. The city launched two
new purpose-built apps– CoMoGOV and ColumbiaPD. CoMoGOV is the
official mobile app to conduct business with
the city while on the go. And ColumbiaPD allows
mobile users access to the latest police-related
news, events, notifications, and crime reporting. Find out all about our mobile
apps at CoMo.gov/mobile. For the 21st consecutive
year, the City of Columbia was presented the Distinguished
Budget Presentation Award from the Government
Finance Officers Association of the United States and Canada. According to GFOA, the award
reflects the commitment of the governing body and
staff to meeting the highest principles of
governmental budgeting. This award is affirmation
from an independent source that the city’s budget is
transparent and conforms to professional standards. In an annual evaluation of
cities conducted by the Human Rights Campaign,
the City of Columbia scored the highest rank possible
on the 2017 Municipal Equality Index. Only three cities in Missouri
achieved that ranking. The Municipal Equality
Index examines the extent to which municipal laws,
policies, and services are inclusive of LGBTQ
people who live and work within the community. Cities are rated based on
nondiscrimination laws, the municipality as an employer,
municipal services, law enforcement, and the
city’s leadership’s public position on equality. The city’s progress on the
Municipal Equality Index is indicative of the
city’s commitment to build an inclusive
community where all people have the opportunity to thrive. The Building Inclusive
Communities series, which started through
efforts of the Department of Public Health
and Human Services, expanded to offer training
on diversity and inclusion for all city employees
and interested parties, including a number of city
council members, board and commission members, and
members of local partner organizations. 80 new attendees enrolled in
the full-day workshop in 2017. Full-day workshops
and follow-up classes resulted in close to
900 hours of training on diversity and inclusion. One new trainer was added,
and two additional trainers have nearly finished
their certification. All of this effort
benefits our citizens because the
employees, officials, and community members who attend
Building Inclusive Communities trainings are better prepared
to connect with and provide greater service to every
citizen they encounter. Unfortunately, like many
communities around the country, Columbia is seeing a rise
in opioid-related overdoses and deaths. In January 2017, the
Columbia Fire Department deployed naloxone. Naloxone is a medication
used to rapidly reverse the effects of opioid overdoses. The Columbia Fire
Department administered the lifesaving drug at
least 15 times in 2017. Council Member Michael Trapp was
key in starting the discussion about Naloxone and, ultimately,
our ability to administer it in our community. By the end of 2017,
the police department too has deployed naloxone
to its patrol units. The City Manager’s Office
is leading the effort to implement a three-year
Vision Zero action plan. Vision Zero is a strategy
to eliminate all traffic fatalities and severe injuries. It is such that no loss of life
on our roads is acceptable. The city council unanimously
adopted a Vision Zero policy and set a goal of zero traffic
deaths and serious injuries by 2030. The action plan is composed
of three areas of focus– engineering, education,
and enforcement. Each team will work over
the next three years through collaborative
and strategic initiatives to achieve our goal. With the completion of the
Providence Road Project this fall, Columbia’s
Public Works Department completed the last
of 14 projects funded by the voter-approved
2015 Quarter Cent Capital
Improvements Sales Tax. The tax, which extends
through the year 2025, is used to fund high-cost
infrastructure improvement projects, as well as smaller
annual improvement projects, such as sidewalks, traffic
safety, and landscaping. The Columbia Terminal Railroad
received an $80,000 grant from the Missouri Department
of Transportation Freight Enhancement Program. The grant allowed COLT to
purchase an automotive loading ramp to accommodate
the transportation needs of local vendors. An automotive rail car holds
up to 50% more vehicles than a truck auto carrier. Greater capacity means
more efficient shipping, reduced costs, and
reduced carbon emissions. Rail delivery of raw product
and goods into Columbia is a critical metric in the
industry’s success and growth in Columbia and
surrounding areas. Aurora Organic
Dairy announced it has selected the Sutter
Industrial Site in Columbia for a $106 million
fluid-milk processing facility that will create 100
jobs during the initial phase. A second phase
expansion is anticipated to take place during the first
three years of the facility’s operation and will bring
an additional $50 million investment and create
50 additional jobs. REDI Staff facilitated
the project from proposal through site visits and
selection, as well as the Chapter 100 Revenue
Bonds incentive process. Central Neighborhood Community
Outreach Unit Officer Justin Anthony and his basketball
team of 9th and 10th graders scored big this year. Most of the boys had never
played organized ball. But after just a month
of regular practice, they went undefeated. Anthony met some of the boys
while patrolling Douglass Park and started shooting
hoops with them. He built trust as
a coach and mentor. He arranged
transportation, tutoring when needed, found jobs
for some of the boys through the city’s Care
Program, built their confidence, and showed them that
people cared about them. Since the COU was established,
officers, citizens, and local partners in three
strategic neighborhoods have achieved higher trust,
lower crime rates, and greater neighborhood empowerment. The Parks and
Recreation Department recognizes that cities
with an active and dynamic cultural scene are more
attractive to individuals and businesses. Public art can
create civic icons. But it can also transform
our parks, trails, streets, and public buildings into a
unique and culturally active place. During the summer of
2017, Columbia’s Parks and Recreations CARE Program
unveiled a new community mural at the Stewart Road
Underpass on the MKT trail. The Stewart Road
mural compliments the pilot mural
completed in 2016 at the local street underpass
on that same section of trail. Teen artists in the
CARE Art Gallery completed the mural with
assistance and input from community partners. About 80 people joined
in painting the mural. The mural’s thematics
slogan is an adaptation of a James Baldwin quote. It reads, we must
learn from history to make a brighter future for
ourselves and our community. In addition, a second mural was
completed in the summer of 2017 at downtown Optimist Park. This project, led by
Jabberwacky Studios, gathered community
input and inspiration to reflect that
neighborhood’s unique culture. The Office of Cultural
Affairs funded a record number of local nonprofit arts and
cultural organizations in 2017. Through the office’s
Annual Funding Program, 29 organizations applied
and will receive funds for projects in the community. City funding helps
support a wide variety of cultural experiences, gallery
exhibits, concert seasons, theater productions, education,
and community outreach programs, and annual festivals. OCA’s Funding Program strives
to nurture new and established arts organizations
and bring a greater appreciation of all
forms of art to Columbia. In September 2017, 33 highly
engaged employees successfully completed Ladders
Leadership training conducted by the city’s
Human Resources Department. Ladders is a one-year
training program for non-supervisory
city employees who want to become leaders
in the organization. Leadership is the key component
of the city’s strategy to develop internal talent. The curriculum includes
strategic thinking, communication, customer
service, budgeting, and the city’s strategic plan. In the last two years,
23 Ladders participants have been promoted to
supervisory positions at the city. 2017 was the first year
that saw the formation of a centralized marketing
and communications team. As Public Information Officers,
now called Community Relations Specialists, were transferred
in from most city departments to the managerial control of the
Community Relations Department. Communicators provide
specialized service to their assigned departments
but meet regularly as a team to share information,
solve common problems, and continue work
on the creation of a new strategic
communications plan. The City Channel added closed
captioning to its live Meeting Broadcast and received
two telly awards for video productions on the
topics of municipal courthouse weddings and combating
homelessness. The Community Relations
Specialists, the City Channel, and the contact
center work together to ensure that both internal
and external customers receive prompt and open communication. And finally, we can’t
talk about the year 2017 without mentioning that
on Monday, August 21, Columbia was directly in the
path of one of the rarest astronomical events– a total solar eclipse, with over
2 and 1/2 minutes of totality, Columbia became an ideal spot
for visitors and citizens alike to observe
this historic event. The Convention and
Visitors Bureau work with multiple cities
departments including Parks and Recreation, Police,
Public Works Street Division, and volunteer program staff,
along with planning partner Off Track Events, to
create two separate viewing events for the eclipse. A free music festival was
also held on the Sunday before the eclipse
at Cosmo Park. Gans Creek Recreation Area
and Cosmo Park were both full of spectators on August 21. And the skies cleared just in
time for thousands of visitors to Columbia to witness totality. Tens of thousands of
pairs of eclipse glasses were given away. And visitors from across
the country, and even around the world, were able to
enjoy Columbia’s hospitality. And an eclipse that
they will never forget.

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