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Sparks Mayor Geno R.

Annual State of the City Address, March 6, 2017

Welcome! Its good to see so many of you here today. Thank you for joining me, the esteemed
Sparks City Council, and Sparks City Manager Steve Driscoll for our annual State of the City
address. We are honored you took the time to be with us today.
Each spring I look forward to this day. It is the time I can openly brag about our
accomplishments, bestow thanks to the people who make this city work for our citizens, talk
about our progress, and address our challenges.

As the economy recovers, so does Sparks. We have seen economic growth, increased air service,
renewed housing starts, the unemployment rate reduced. Our neighborhoods are looking better,
public interest has increased, and more kids are graduating. We have cultivated regional
partnerships, developed new alliances with our neighbors, and nurtured exciting opportunities for
business and commercial growth.

We can now see the recession turning around. We are moving forward, toward an era of
prosperity. Fueled by a steadily growing economy, renewed housing starts, low unemployment,
and entrepreneurial interest, we say, Its a good time to get established in northern Nevada.

We remain an active voice in local and state government. The City was honored to host the
annual Nevada League of Cities & Municipalities Conference back in October. It was an
opportunity to showcase all the City has to offer to every town and city council across Nevada.
The event brought Nevada unity and camaraderie right here in our home town.

I appreciate the vigilance and dedication of the Citys finance team. We have no general
obligation debt covered by the Citys general fund, but our fiscal affairs remain fragile.
Consolidated and fair share tax is again trending upward from fiscal year 2016, and we expect an
increase of about 6.6 percent from fiscal year 2017. Were forecasting revenue from licenses
and permit fees to grow by about 3 percent in the current fiscal year.

Our property tax revenue has increased by less than 2 percent, due to the unintended
consequences of a complex property tax formula. As a result of the current property tax
abatement of $4.6 million, the City is unable to provide a number of public services in a
proactive or responsive manner. As we partner with our legislators this session, I continue to
urge them to look at how the property tax distribution hinders local government and school
districts throughout the state.

Meanwhile, city leadership and City employees work in tandem to fulfill Sparks' strategic goals
of fiscal stability, employee relations, infrastructure and technology, public safety, economic
development, and citizen engagement.

To fulfill these strategic goals, the people and functions of City departments intertwine regularly
with each other, city management, the Council and the public.

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Sparks is unencumbered by the hostilities felt in some cities who find it difficult to get along
with political partners and neighboring cities. Our decisions are speculated and reviewed for
what works best for Sparks. They are determined by our defined mission, vision, and strategic
goals, and with consideration of each issue, on its own merits. This system, modeled after goals
and mission, have resulted in decisions that are rarely regretted.

I appreciate the culture of our organization and the commitment of employees and work groups
to pull together to fulfill Sparks vision, to be the city of choice for residents, businesses and

Here in Sparks we have that home town feel, with established neighborhoods and beautiful
parks. We are anchored by Sparks comfy living room, Victorian Square, where people gather to
enjoy a meal, meet their neighbors, participate in one of our great events, and now they can even
call Victorian Square home.

We sport an older, low-rise, inconspicuous city hall building to accomplish most of the business
of our city. Were dotted with five city fire houses and blessed with our very own jewel, the
Sparks Marina. Sparks citizens and businesses actively engage with each other in groups like
39North, and our leaders jump in with both feet to bring about special projects, like the Nevada
Veterans Memorial. Home town pride is abundant here.

Thats our culture. We are a modern city with a home town feel. We progress and move
forward, yet manage to maintain personal relationships AND community alliances. These
relationships make our city work.

One of our most important regional road projects is the SouthEast Connector / Veterans
Memorial Parkway, which will connect east Sparks and south Reno. The system will offer an
alternative route to the heavily traveled US395 / I-580 freeway, providing motorists a direct
option between the northeast and the south Truckee Meadows. The SouthEast Connector is now
40 percent constructed, and is expected to be completed late this year.

This long-awaited road project will be commemorated with the opening of Veterans Memorial
Park, to be located at the southeast corner of Greg Street near the Truckee River, and where the
Veterans Highway begins. Funded by private donations, Sparks City Council Members Ron
Smith, Kristopher Dahir and Charlene Bybee have driven the Veterans Memorial Park project
since its inception in 2015.

The most undeniably impactful roadway project underway for Sparks residents is the
Pyramid/McCarran intersection. The area is one the busiest, most traveled, in the Truckee

The $72 million-dollar Pyramid/McCarran project will reduce traffic constraints and improve
safety. This project is a collaborative undertaking for our entire community. Nevada

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Department of Transportation, the Regional Transportation Commission, and the City of Sparks
are working together to ensure project success with the least amount of pain for all stakeholders.

Change and roadwork are phrases most people dont like to hear. We appreciate everyones
patience during this time. I can assure us all that it will be well worth the wait.

Were on track for completion in spring of 2018.

Its no secret to the employees who work at City Hall, that the building is, should I say, not one
that is state-of-the-art. We are just not able or willing to take on more debt for our taxpayers to
build a new facility.

I am grateful to our public servants who at times, work under leaky ceilings, walk on some sad-
looking floors, and have made the best of it, still serving the public with a smile. We have made
some improvements at City Hall however, so that this 50-year old facility can remain the hub of
your City government.

We have a new HVAC system that is controlled digitally. These improvements will reduce
maintenance costs and improve the efficiency of the facility. Over the last few years, the capital
projects division has been working hard to upgrade restrooms throughout City Hall to current
ADA standards, to include some new flooring and LED lighting. A new set of restrooms was
completed in the Finance wing, along with a water bottle filling station. We look forward to
completing the community services wing restroom this spring with similar upgrades.

The completion of the all-abilities playground at Pah Rah Park greatly increased the use of the
facility by families throughout the community. With the popularity of the park it became
apparent that a new larger restroom facility was required. Installation of the new ADA
accessible restroom will be completed by May, and will also include a water bottle filling station.

The City of Sparks Street Program provided street rehabilitation for over 690,000 square feet of
roadway and provided preventative maintenance for over 2.2 million square feet.

These projects also included replacement and rehabilitation of aging curb, gutter and sidewalk
and upgrades to the ADA pedestrian ramps, striping, and signing.

Staff works hard to handle citizen comments about safety issues throughout the City. Concerns
about speeding, sight distance at intersections, and issues with traffic signal operations are
regularly addressed. We installed flashing radar detection signs to help a neighborhood with a
speeding issue, and we have modified existing roadway striping and signing to improve safety.

The City recently completed a comprehensive Sanitary Sewer Model update. This
technologically advanced model evaluates the Citys sanitary sewer pipelines for capacity now,
and into the future. Land usage assumptions for each of the Citys 39,000 parcels can be

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changed and evaluated quickly, providing insights to developmental impacts on key

And in 2016, we began converting all 108 of the Citys traffic signal controllers to a new system
which offers more safety options for traffic and pedestrians.

It is imperative we continue moving forward on the regional flood project. In Sparks, we

embarked on a critical component of the project three years ago.

Storm water from as far as the Spanish Springs Valley flows into the North Truckee Drain during
storm events. Realigning the North Truckee Drain further downstream of the Truckee River,
east of Vista Boulevard, will be completed this year. This forty-million-dollar effort will go a
long way toward reducing flooding along the east side of the Truckee Meadows from Prater Way
to Hidden Valley. About 90 percent of this projects funding comes from City of Sparks flood
fees, paid by city residents and businesses.

We are now breaking ground on Phase 3. Completion of this important flood reduction project is
expected to reduce flood depths up to twelve inches within certain areas of Sparks industrial
area. Our contractor, Q&D Construction, is anticipating completion in early 2018.

I am deeply grateful to Sparks residents and businesses who paid for this project. Our city has
accomplished much to alleviate the flooding potential for our area. The project has been
staunchly supported by City leadership, being mindful of the taxpayer dollars involved. We
appreciate the support of our businesses and residents to see this effort through.

From flood control efforts to redevelopment projects and everything in between, City leadership
sets the stage for the management and functions of our city. That leadership, coupled with the
dedication and know-how of Sparks employees and volunteers is what makes our great city run.

The theme of this years State of the City is about customer service. You, our residents, are our
customers we are dedicated to serving. When it comes to interacting with our residents, visitors,
and businesses, we strive to leave the best first and last impression.

This year, I want to call out a special group of employees, 60 very special individuals. The
Citys Public Works crews are at the front lines serving the public to assure city infrastructure,
and especially roads, remain safe and operational. These men and women work, in some cases,
around the clock to help us prepare for emergencies, such as storm and flood events.

While our law enforcement and fire fighters are known as our public safety champions, these
workers are the unsung heroes who are also on the front lines every day.
If you appreciate clear and safe roads, if you enjoy our numerous neighborhood parks, our bike
trails and paths, then these are the people you should thank and hug. They are responsible for the
upkeep of our public places such as our parks, and tend to those needs throughout all seasons.
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Our public works crews are cross-trained in numerous functions and roles, and operate a variety
of heavy equipment and machinery. At times, we take for granted these team members who work
behind the scenes, brave the weather, the wind and cold, snow and mud. They work at night,
sometimes on weekends and holidays, to ensure our residents can get to where they need to go
safely and enjoy their lives in our City on more than 700 miles of streets in Sparks.
But in addition to the solid work we see these crews doing for our city, year in and year out, its
noteworthy to see how their actions benefit citizens and business from a public safety aspect.
We know these are the crews that stripe our streets, run the street sweepers, and keep traffic
signals functioning. All that relates to public safety, and we appreciate it.

Lets not forget the maintenance of 108 traffic signals, the creation and installation of traffic
signs, the upkeep of lighting in our parks and throughout our City facilities, along with the
maintenance of our City fleet consisting of 558 vehicles, and that includes police and fire rescue

We know what kind of havoc the weather can cause on our roads and drainage systems in
northern Nevada. They ensure our roads are safe to travel by applying a brine solution, or salt
and sand during cold and snowy conditions. They make sure all our 256 miles of storm drainage
systems are free of debris. They clear 357 miles of sanitary sewer lines, and more than 130 miles
of open ditches throughout our City.

But lets consider how these city teams sprang into action recently, and the outstanding job they
did for us during the January and subsequent flood events.

These are the crews that kept seven sandbag stations open throughout the flood threat; some
were open 24 / 7. These are the crews that were deployed throughout our city to help keep the
storm and sewer drains clear, avoiding catastrophic and unhealthy storm drain back-ups. They
spent approximately 2,100 hours of labor in storm preparation. The public works crews filled
approximately 25,000 sandbags! These are the men and women that worked throughout the
night plowing the onslaught of all that snow that was mixed with all that rain. They worked all
hours, adjusted their shifts, and went from snow event to flood event, and back to snow event,
and into freezing temperatures.

While we were snuggled in our homes and offices, these are the crews that, like our fire and
police, helped keep us safe. I am grateful to these unsung heroes. They dont often get enough
credit. So, today, I want to salute those unsung heroes, the hard-working public work crews in
the Community Services Division, for all they do for our citizens. These tasks, and much more,
are all performed by these magnificent individuals who I want to stand to be recognized.

The other department that sets our city apart, demonstrating courtesy and professionalism, in
person and on the phone, is Sparks Customer Service. Serving at the front lines; these are the
first faces greeting visitors to City Hall. They are the goodwill ambassadors for our city.
Consistent service with a smile.

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They answer questions, give directions, and field objections. Staff in this department knows who
does what in the City. They know the people, they understand the functions of every
department, and they know who to ask when they dont know. Its not unusual for the team to
receive non-related city inquiries such as, Who can I contact for a mail order bride? Or even
recommendations for a doctor.

This past year the department became fully integrated with Accella One Nevada, the regional
software that allows a business license applicant to complete a Sparks license application, and
within the same system, also complete business license applications for Reno and Washoe
County. This is the one-stop business license process citizens and businesses all over the region
have been waiting for. And while some bugs continue to be worked through, the system is
largely complete, helping citizens, businesses, and regional partners share data and operate more

Word is spreading that Sparks City Hall is the best place in the Truckee Meadows to get your
passport. In 2016, the six individuals at Sparks Customer Service who are certified to produce
passports, issued over 2,800 of them a 40 percent increase over the number of passports issued
in 2015,

I cant forget the hard work and dedication the Citys Parks and Recreation team. They provide
a high level of customer service throughout the year. This department is the fabric of our
community. They register thousands of people for hundreds of programs, activities, tournaments
and special events, and they do so with a smile. This is a big job that requires a lot of
coordination and skill. I appreciate their constant dedication to the community.

I also want to applaud our Citys Clerks office. This lean professional staff, with a collective 54
years of city service, provided more than 300 public information requests last year. They
scanned and filed! nearly 7,500 business licenses and documents. They also utilized nearly
600 hours of volunteer time, saving the city thousands in labor costs. The Clerks office is the
hub for record keeping. It requires a high level of organization and monitoring to ensure we are
following the Public Records laws of our state.

My office consistently receives kudos for the expertise and professionalism of customer service
here at City Hall. Our city is grateful for the friendly and knowledgeable people who have
dedicated themselves to serving the public in this building.

Tesla, Switch, Zulily, Walmart and other industry giants have brought great recognition to our
region, and to Sparks. There is no city in Nevada better situated then Sparks, or better suited
then Sparks, to serve the growth of the Tahoe Reno Industrial Center. The massive T-R-I
complex, just nine miles east of Sparks, delivers the opportunity for our city to provide the
services, goods and benefits T-R-I employees and their families require.

Construction activity kept City staff busy again in 2016 as the City issued 3,393 building permits
last year, of which 38 percent were approved the same day they were applied for. These permits

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had a valuation of over $205 million. While the number of permits for single family homes was
down somewhat from 2015, total permits for new residential units increased marginally in 2016.
Most notably, the number of permits issued for multi-family homes such as apartments increased
by 189 percent to 517 units.

In 2015, the City Council prioritized updating the Sparks Master Plan. The City initiated a
robust participation and public outreach process called Ignite Sparks, that resulted in the widest
and deepest participation in Sparks planning history. Modern technologies, extensive media
outreach, and presentations to community groups were employed to achieve this goal. The
process culminated in the City Councils adoption of the Sparks Comprehensive Plan in October
of 2016. The Comprehensive Plan is a big picture policy document that will guide Sparks
growth and development through the year 2030, while reinforcing the characteristics that Sparks
residents love about their community.

Our city has benefitted, and will continue to benefit from redevelopment projects that have
brought a new face to Victorian Square. Sparks now offers metro living in the heart of our city.
The Square One and Fountainhouse projects provided more than 300 new living spaces for
individuals, couples and families.

And the soon-to-be-built Bridges project, also in Victorian Square, will provide over 190 more
apartments, nearly 20,000 square feet of commercial space and parking for the projects tenants.

When it started to look like the landscape in the downtown corridor was about to change, we
heard concerns about parking for our numerous special events. We were re-assured when record
crowds visited our city center last year, removing parking concerns.

Bottom line is that people and families can now live in the heart of the city. They have easy
access to the freeway, and to the RTCs Centennial bus station in Victorian Square, and so, they
have easy access to their jobs and shopping. They can shop, dine and enjoy special events
practically from their front doors.

Multi-family homes are again under development by Ryder Homes and we welcomed the
completion of Sunseri Constructions 45-unit senior living complex near City Hall.

We look forward to the start of the Waterfront Project, designed to wrap approximately 200
housing units around the once abandoned parking structure at the marina. Wont that project
bring a welcome change of scenery to the Marina area? And building permits are ready for two
hotels to be built near the marina.

Although we are not back to pre-recession growth, we are growing again, were just not
exploding. More opportunities still exist. Sparks is grateful to those visionary private
enterprises who collaborate to renew and refurbish aging or abandoned properties. There are all
private projects, with no financial support from the City.

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Sometimes its two steps forward, and one step back. It was disappointing to see the Century
Theater close last year, HOWEVER, as just announced, Galaxy Theaters will enter into a new
lease with Syufy, the owner of the theatres building. Sparks has stepped up and will support the
new theater development with $1.5 million from the hotel room taxes in Sparks. The new theater
will mirror the luxury theater that has become a home run at Legends. Victorian Square is truly
evolving into a place where there is indeed, always something happening. We appreciate the
commitment from the folks at Galaxy Theatre.

Economic development wins include the ties our city has to the special events our city is
known for. Special events are good for our citizens, good for tourism, and thus, good for
business. Special events are important to our citizens. How do we know this? We ask our
citizens whats important to them, and then we pay attention to what the citizenry tells us
through public surveys and online polls. Sparks residents appreciate many of the attributes our
city provides. But one thing always stands out, and thats the home town feel this place

The Capital Projects division investigates, assesses, collaborates with city departments and
business entities to budget and maintain City facilities. Always under consideration are cost-
saving measures, with savings benefitting tax payers.

The Sparks photovoltaic system consists of the numerous, expansive solar panels placed
throughout the City. You have likely seen these systems at the Alf Sorensen center, and the
Sparks Police Station on Prater. These systems save the city about $95 thousand dollars annually
in energy costs again, saving tax payer money.

Its safe to say that as much as we enjoy saving money, we also greatly value safety in our
community. Last year our city joined with the City of Reno and Washoe County to implement
Tri-Tech, the regions new computer aided dispatch system. Policing throughout the Truckee
Meadows is now greatly enhanced by efficient information sharing between the three entities.
Data sharing has made patrol response time and investigations safer and more efficient.

Our City is grateful to those who serve and protect our residents every day. Police Chief Allen
and his team are mindful of the importance of building trust and rapport with those they serve.
Sparks Police engages in vigorous community outreach programs with students, civic groups,
neighborhood groups and the public in general.

As Sparks continues to grow, calls for fire and paramedic service increased nearly 15 percent
from fiscal year 2015 to 2016. Paramedic level EMS service will be assigned to Fire Stations 4
and 5 in April. Providing for public safety has been identified as the citys TOP priority.

Surrounding cities and regions count on Sparks for mutual aid in times of crisis, like battling
wildland fires. Last year Chief Maples and his team went on 29 assignments to support other fire
departments when they were faced with situations that exceeded their capabilities.

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I am also proud of 10 years of Project Safe, the program that installs and replaces outdated
smoke detectors in older areas of the city. To date, over 4,000 smoke detectors have been
installed in the City. The program is so beneficial in so many ways, from outfitting homes with
this vital safety equipment, to keeping the importance of fire safety up front in the public eye.

As I close, I want to give special thanks to U.S. Senator Dean Heller, and our newest U.S.
Senator Catherine Cortez-Masto, and Congressman Mark Amodei, along with our entire federal
delegation for their leadership in our nations capital.

I want to express my gratitude to Governor Sandoval and our legislators in Carson City, who are
doing the states business as I speak. I also appreciate the hard work and dedication of our City
Attorney Chet Adams and his team for their vigilance and support on crucial legal concerns.
And I also want to give a shout out to our Municipal Court Judges Barbara McCarthy and Jim
Spoo for their commitment to public service and the judicial system here in Sparks.

I am very proud of our City Council. These five individuals represent a city of more than 95,000
people. They exemplify the pride we have in Sparks.

Donald Abbott was elected to Ward 1 and serves in the seat vacated by Julia Ratti. Mr. Abbott is
part of the Millennial generation. And hes a Sparks native! Donald has served on the Sparks
Citizens Advisory Committee and is an accomplished photographer. He was a visible sight on
the ground, literally, during the January flood events. Mr. Abbott serves on several city and
regional boards, including the Sparks Parks and Recreation Commission.
Council Member Ed Lawson is serving his second term on the Council. He continues to be the
Citys champion for sound and responsible economic development. He serves on the Sparks
legislative team and on the board for the Reno Sparks Convention and Visitors Authority. Ed
also serves on the Regional Planning Governing Board.

Now the longest serving council member, Ron Smith is serving his fourth term. Ron can be seen
everywhere! Hes a strong voice at the Regional Transportation Commission, and because hes
also Mayor Pro Tempore, hes an equally strong voice when Im not available. In addition to
numerous boards and commissions hes assigned to, Ron Smith is the leading influence for the
Nevada Veterans Memorial, which will be built at the north end of the SouthEast Connector
when the Veterans Memorial Parkway is completed.

Charlene Bybee, Council Member for Sparks Ward 4, is a lifelong Sparks resident. Ms. Bybee is
a strong supporter of her alma mater, University of Nevada, Reno. Charlene is enthusiastic about
her assignment on the school districts capital funding protection committee. Thats an
important assignment when it comes to supporting public education, and I am happy to have her
on this committee. Charlene is currently the Chair on the Regional Planning Governing Board.

Kristopher Dahir is Sparks second new council member, elected in 2016. He is a founding
member of the 39North Downtown community group, a business and citizens cooperative
formed to highlight the wonderfulness of our city. Mr. Dahir serves on the Commission of the
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Washoe County District Board of Health and is the Vice Chair of the Redevelopment Agency. I
appreciate the enthusiasm he has brought to the Council.

And thanks to all of you for taking the time to be with us today here in Sparks. I am more
hopeful than I have been for the past several years, and excited for each of us. The future of our
beloved City and the region in which we live is very bright indeed.

God bless you, God bless Sparks, Nevada, and God bless America.

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