State of the City – Troy, Michigan 09/20/2012

By Janice L. Daniels - Mayor of Troy

Good evening. Thank you for joining us this evening. I hope to make this, my first State of the City address an enjoyable, enlightening, and energizing look at the accomplishments and the challenges of Troy, the place we call home because although I believe that no one is looking for a sugar coated mask of the serious issues that we do face, I believe at the same time that we all look to our elected officials to give us reason for hope, to give us empowerment and encouragement that working together we can and will find a way to a brighter future for our children and our children’s children because that is what it is all about … isn’t it? To organize, to manage and to maintain the blessings that we have been given so that our children can prosper? When looking at an important city like Troy, we have to consider the context in which our analysis begins. To do so we can go macro looking at the big picture, working our way micro at the details and then examine the past, the present and the future. In fact we will do all of this before this presentation is over but first let me introduce to you some very special people. We have councilpersons Wade Fleming and Jim Campbell and school board members Paula Fleming and Ida Edmunds who were able to join us. Please join me in recognizing our elected officials. Now, it gives me great pleasure to introduce you to my son, Corporal Mark James Daniels, United States Marine Corps. Semper Fidelis – which of course means: Always Faithful. Mark graduated from the new Troy High School in June of 2010. One month later in July of 2010 Staff Sergeant William Shepherd escorted Mark out of our home and into the Marine Corps. The Marine Corps has honed his skills, has given him an opportunity to see parts of the world he might never have seen and has forced him to face danger and pain, two very powerful teachers. Please join me in keeping Mark and all of our service men and women in your prayers for they truly represent the best of what life has to offer – to see your children and loved ones grow, prosper and make a difference in the world in which we live. Thank you, Mark. God bless you and God bless all others who proudly serve our country in all of our honorable branches of military service. Next I am honored to be able to talk to you about Mr. Michael Culpepper. I first met Mr. Culpepper when he sat across the table from me in a Study Session held in the Troy City Hall Boardroom. He was generous with his answers to council’s impromptu questions. He has a quiet dignity and a very positive outlook on the issues that face our City. I am pleased to have worked with Mr. Culpepper these past few months as our Interim City Manager. I am proud to have met his wife Jan and I sincerely thank both of them for the time that they have given to keep our City on an even keel while we searched for our new City Manager. Thank you Mr. Culpepper – I know that your contract with the city has been temporarily extended and thank you for that, I know that you will be happy to return to your busy retirement life and although I can only really speak for myself I would like to extend sincere gratitude to you and your wife from the entire City of Troy. Next let me introduce to you our new permanent City Manager – Mr. Bryan Kischnick. From what I have read, studied and have seen personally, I want to tell you that Mr. Kischnick is an energetic, well spoken, intelligent and dedicated person who has made a career out of helping to make the places where he works better under his fine management. Mr. Kischnick was chosen with unanimous support from the Troy City Council and I believe with his strong background and his professional demeanor he will receive virtual unanimous support from the community. We are certainly looking forward to working with Mr. Kischnick for years to come to continue the legacy of Troy as a visionary leadership city. Welcome to Mr. Kischnick and his family again from myself and if I might by extension offer a warm welcome from the entire City of Troy. Now, to briefly set the stage for the discussion of the state of the City of Troy lets look at the big picture and work our way from a macro to a micro analysis of the issues of the day because as you know, although Troy is a world


class destination city, it is not an oasis. Conditions in the world, in the United States, the State of Michigan and in Oakland County all have an impact on our City. It is of course no surprise that our world is in a state of flux on many levels. We see emerging efforts for peoples around the world to be free from the tyranny that has gripped most of the world throughout history. We see conflicting ideologies throughout the world that are causing turmoil and strife that must be addressed by reasonable people as we make every effort to avoid war, murder and insurrection that quite frankly affects each and every person in each and every state, county, city and neighborhood throughout the world. We must be mindful at the local level that the freedoms that we protect here at home are the same freedoms that peoples around the world should be striving to achieve rather than betraying and blaming us. In a brief historical look at America as a country all that needs to be said is that the American federal government was organized by a compact, or an agreement of the several States to protect its people from outside aggression, inside insurrection, to make regular our commerce and to conduct various other limited duties as outlined in Article I Section VIII of the United States Constitution. Our federal government needs to be reminded by those several States that its role is limited and its duties are well defined in the Constitution because we currently have a vastly over reaching federal bureaucracy that hampers our local individual freedoms that it was organized to protect. Moving ever closer to our City, there is much to love about the State of Michigan. Our vast natural resources are enviable with over 11,000 inland lakes and over 3,200 miles of freshwater coastline surrounding our State in greatness – we call it the Great Lakes State. There are over 6 million acres of forest land in Michigan and we have an impressive talent bank of individuals in the automotive industry, health services, education, agriculture and nanotechnology. Yes nanotechnology is quietly becoming a significant industrial focus in the State of Michigan and well as in our very own Oakland County. In fact, in the year 2006 Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan signed on a nanotechnologist to be its new vice provost for research. Tachung c. Yih came from the University of Texas San Antonio with a prediction that nanotechnology will give birth to the “third industrial revolution” Manufacturing being the first, computer technology the second and nanotechnology the third. These certainly are exciting time in which we live! Speaking of Oakland County, I first want to reiterate my most sincere concern and well wishes for our popular and brilliant County Executive L. Brooks Patterson, his driver and all others involved in that horrible accident on August 10, 2012. I understand Mr. Patterson is recovering at home now and again my wish on behalf of the City of Troy is for a safe and speedy recovery for all. Now I would like to briefly quote from the Oakland County Economic Outlook for 2012 – 2014 which indicated that … “The rebound in the Oakland county economy has been almost as impressive as the downturn that preceded it. The Oakland County economy added 23,426 jobs in 2011, its second-best performance in the past fifteen years, back to 1994. The private sector was even stronger, contributing 25,408 jobs last year, its best year since 1994 and well above the average growth of 15,876 private-sector jobs recorded from 1980 to 2000, prior to the downturn of the 2000s. And … The dominant job providers in the recovery have been professional and business services, manufacturing, health care, and wholesale trade”. So now having set the stage for the discussion of the state of our city, we see that as we look closer and closer to Troy, the outlook seems to be getting better and better and that is by no mistake the truth. It is said that all things start at the local level. I believe that to be true especially in a country organized by, for and of the people where the individual efforts in the private sector determine the day that you will have, the home that you live in, the business that you build and the city that will thrive and prosper as a collection of our individual efforts.


On an current overview in Troy there is a phenomenal amount of new business and thriving activity this year – so much so that we would be here all night long if we were to recognize each and every entrepreneur, organization or company that is positively contributing to our overall success in so many measures. I pray that the companies that are contributing that I am unable to mention will know that I truly value them and would enjoy an opportunity to showcase your business this coming year! That said, being as I love free market competition I will mention some of the most significant opportunities because I believe that these men and women and their companies represent the pinnacle of achievement that we should want all companies and all entrepreneurs to look to a models for success. If you wish to continue the celebration of our private sector, the city of Troy has a state-of-the-art website at which everyone should bookmark as a favorite so that you can easily keep pace with the successes of Troy. We also have a publication called Troy Today that is another resource where you can keep pace with the excitement of living in Troy. I have to begin my appreciation tour, if you will, with a story. This past weekend I visited the Somerset Collection to pay my Nordstrom bill. To get in to the ground floor I had to park at the farthest reaches of the northern most section of the parking lot, pretty much straight in line with California Pizza. The mall was that crowded; so without question I want to acknowledge and sincerely thank the Stuart Frankel Development Company for their fine on-going contributions to the success of Troy and our surrounding communities. I would also like to extend my thanks to the Talmer Bank Group who have made Troy the home of their community lending philosophy. Troy has a significant number of industrial complexes that are new or expanding in the year 2012 with new employees and huge investment opportunities. We have a high-performance vehicle, show car, specialty fleet HUB coming to Troy thanks to a company called Automotive Performance Industries LLC. According to the Specialty Equipment Market Association this is a $28 billion dollar industry to which Troy is providing a spotlight home. Welcome to Troy. There are new office environments relocating or expanding in Troy in the year 2012 including the Seacrest Wardle Law Firm with 48,000 sq. ft. of newly renovated and beautiful office space. We have the Fisher Dynamics group re-occupying 77,000 sq. ft., Flagstar Bank employing 1,800 people in Troy, United Shore Mortgage bringing their headquarters to Troy with 100,000 sq ft of new office space, North Troy Corporate Park with major new purchase renovations. We have the Mahindra Engineering Services new USA Technical Centre located in Troy Technology Park which is the first technical center for MES outside of India. This is a part of the Mahindra Group which has a $15.4 billion dollar global presence. I say to all of them - Welcome to Troy. We have the Candlewood Suites who have spent over $1.6 million dollars this year to totally renovate their travel accommodations for state-of-the-industry comfort and amenities. Holiday Inn Express is contributing to our success with the construction of a new $4 million hotel complex because they know that Troy has a dynamic future. And so at this point I want to make a call out to private food service entrepreneurs from around the world to join the forward thinking restaurants and diners making Troy the home to successful eating establishments in the year 2012 such as Tim Horton’s, Smashburgers, Granite City, LaFeast, 2Boolis, Sala Thai who all understand that Troy is the happening place to be to seek out customers and to conduct business. Again I say welcome to Troy. I recently spoke with our City Assessor Mr. Nino Licari who gave me great reason for enthusiasm and some important information that helps us learn the whole story. First Mr. Licari said that residential sales by August of 2012 YTD exceeded the entire year of 2011. We have an exponentially growing number of new building permits in the year 2012 over 2011 that will ultimately equate to expansion of jobs and opportunity, homes sales and commerce. He said that the bulk of building permits are tenant occupancy so this means soon-to-be improved building vacancy rates and he said that foreclosures were down dramatically this year versus last year. In fact Steve Burns from the Building Department has stated that year-to-date 2012 there have been 1,424 more permits issued than the same year to date 2011 and valuation for projects are up YTD 2012 almost $19 million dollars over YTD 2011.


These are all very positive indicators of future growth and success in commercial, retail and well as residential private sectors that we welcome to Troy. Before we get too excited though Mr. Licari also explained that we are constrained by the State Tax Commission Charter which oversees all assessing at all levels throughout the State of Michigan so that when market values are increasing as they are slightly right now, the city has to use a two year study to lessen the impact of tax increases on homeowners. And likewise when market values are declining, the city is compelled to use a one year study so that we are as close to market as possible to once again benefit the taxpayers, which to my way of thinking sounds just about right being as I am a long time, low tax advocate. Yet if we are looking at the City revenue stream, there is no doubt it is negatively impacted under both scenarios. And that isn’t even considering the constraints placed upon taxable value increases by Proposal A back in 1995. We also have the Troy Downtown Development Authority that was handed over to us by previous councils with a previous management team that represents one of our greatest and most immediate challenges. That is one of my major concerns; even though this is now being somewhat offset by the good news of three notable Planning Department projects located within or near the DDA District this year including the beautiful, previously mentioned Granite City restaurant and two exciting new retail and residential opportunities called The Big Beaver Kilmer and the Big Beaver Center planned unit development projects. We welcome all of you to Troy. Another major concern that I have is what is referred to as the Troy Transit Center. Now the two polarized political factions will never agree with each other. One side says that the Transit Center is the key to future economic growth. The other faction says that it is folly to believe that we can spend money that doesn’t exist for a project with limited demand and no clear cut design strategies. It remains to be seen how this project will ultimately impact life in Troy. If it succeeds I will be the first one to offer my congratulations to its proponents and if it fails I will quietly look for solutions to the new problems that we will be presented with. Meanwhile this current council and management team must make certain that the full scope and cost of this project sees constant light of day so that the taxpayers who are ultimately responsible for the maintenance and operating expenses are kept fully informed. On a brighter note in August of 2012 a CNN Money Magazine report came out that identified the City of Troy as the 26th Best Place to Live in the United States of America and the singularly number one Best Place to Live in the State of Michigan. These are prestigious distinctions to be sure. As the person who is fortunate enough to be able to stand before this audience to announce these distinctions to our city after having only been in office for 10 months the credit is not fully to be found in the present; it is also the legacy of our past administrations. Credit goes to our previous councils, our previous management teams and the city employees who did the hard work to make the fiscally responsible decisions to follow Oakland County’s example of the three year rolling budget, to follow the State of Michigan’s Economic Gardening model that streamlines the regulatory processes that can either entice or inhibit business development, to quickly comply with Governor Synder’s mandate for municipalities to develop a Dashboard for tracking successful performance in many key areas of local government and to use the ICMA’s recommendations to downsize our governmental organizations to set the stage for effective management of our resources in spite of the world wide financials crises. These management tools have allowed us to continue the established legacy of Troy as a city that attracts businesses and peoples from around the world. But the greatest amount of appreciation and congratulations goes to the residents and the business owners of Troy who work hard each day, who raise their children well, who have quite frankly in many cases chose to live in Troy because of our award winning school districts (we have seven of them and we appreciate, value and support each and every one of them). We appreciate and give congratulations to the people who tend to their homes and their properties, who maintain a vibrant faith community of churches and synagogues, temples and mosques; people who pay their taxes and contribute their time and energy in a host of volunteer opportunities. They are the ones who have built this city into the shining example of peace and prosperity that has earned these honorable distinctions.


And, it is with great honor extended to our fine local law enforcement community, that we can recognize Troy for having also earned the distinction of being the safest city with a population of 75,000 or more in the State of Michigan for 10 our of the previous 14 years in a row. And at the same time a sincere note of thanks goes out to our own Fire Chief William Nelson who was honored with the distinction of being named the Michigan Fire Chief of the Year at the Michigan Association of Fire Chief’s Summer Leadership Conference on August 23, 2012. These again are no small feats given the increasingly dangerous world in which we live. I must tell you that that being elected to the office of Mayor is a great honor. There have been only nine people who have held this office since the incorporation of the City of Troy in 1955. I know that the office will remain. It is but a temporary seat that all elected officials hold. But I will guarantee you that I will do everything in my ability to continue to conduct the business of the people with dedication, commitment to detail, respect for all people, energy, enthusiasm and a firm grasp on the principles of limited constitutional government, low understandable relevant reliable taxes and a smooth relationship between the public servants and the people who pay their wages. These are my commitments to you. I thank you for the honor of being the ninth Mayor of the great City of Troy. With a business model like ours expanding outward to our surrounding communities, counties and regions Troy could well be the template for success for decades to come for the entire great State of Michigan and beyond. Well done, Troy. Thank you all very much! Janice L. Daniels Mayor of Troy