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Rock Island Mayor talks budget, COVID-19, 2020 highlights in State of the City address

Mayor Mike Thoms highlighted how the year of 2020 changed many of the city's operations and what's planned for 2021.

ROCK ISLAND, Ill. — In the 2021 State of the City address, Mayor Mike Thoms spoke to several topics concerning how COVID-19 and other challenges changed city operations going into 2021.

Thoms began with a brief foreword lamenting the many and varied losses felt by every member of the community, before moving on to a notable piece of policy.

The city was previously considering a slight 6+% increase in propety tax, but feedback and a cutting of expenses is allowing the city to meet budget goals without needing the tax. Thoms notes that this is at the cost of lowering the amount of city employees to below 2019 numbers and stopping the cost of personnel from increasing.

The mayor highlighted the work done by several public facilities to continue running during the pandemic, including the Martin Luther King Center, the Rock Island Fitness and Activities Center, and White Water Junction.

In particular, Thoms celebrated the MLK Center's work during the holiday season and the number of meals and gift they were able to provide to families in need.

The mayor spoke to the challenges forced onto many important groups of city employees, including the police's change in staffing and pandemic rules enforcement, firefighters' greater number of calls, Human Resource's constantly-changing COVID policies, and Public Works' derecho cleanup effort.

He highlighted several recent and continuing projects, including green initiatives that will reduce CO2 emissions by over 1 million pounds, revenue projects with the Arsenal, new library programs, and IT upgrades.

One of Thoms's most enthusiatic points was about how local businesses grew and adapted, noting the standardization of carryout and delivery food service, the expansion of 15 current businesses, and the founding of 10 new ones.

Mayor Thoms then ended the speech with a thank you message: "I want to thank the citizens for the trust you have given me and the City Council. I would like to thank the City employees for making the impossible, possible. I really believe that the residents of Rock Island and the whole Quad Cities are RESILANT and as we continue to work together, we will continue to grow."