STATE OF THE CITY Mayor touts Beaumont momentum
From $10 million in road repairs to an 18 percent increase in revenues from hotel room taxes and estimates Beaumont will hit its largest population totals ever in 2019, the city’s headed in the right direction, according to Mayor Becky Ames.
After telling Beaumont Chamber of Commerce Thursday lunch attendees she has a particularly rosy view of the city, Ames recounted more than a dozen projects the city is starting or has recently completed, earning her State of the City address more than one lengthy round of applause.
“Nothing happens without a group of people that are committed to doing what’s right and they think is purposeful for our citizens,” she said, noting that while she’s the one presenting the projects, many people have been involved.
Ames is facing re-election in May. She has four challengers — Bill Lambert, Joshua Yates, Geary Senigaur Jr. and Jude Paredez.
After briefly detailing the city’s budget, which Ames says is healthy and sends the most money to the police and fire departments, she told attendees of $10 million the city borrowed to repair roads in 2019 and 2020.
Each year will see $5 million in dedicated streets funding — a combined total that will end up being more than the city’s ever spent on repairing roads, she said.
“Streets are one of our biggest challenges and I think most cities would agree with me because they’re very expensive and everybody wants their street fixed,” she said.
Ames also noted the city’s created its first mixed-use street on Magnolia Avenue, which has space for bikes and cars. It’s also used natural gas royalty earnings from production at the city’s Municipal Airport to pay for improvements to Washington Boulevard, Seventh Street and the create the Northwest Parkway.
In terms of projects that have seen more behind-the-scenes work, Ames discussed the stabilization of Riverfront Park and improvements to the city’s water system, all of which were damaged during Tropical Storm Harvey.
The city hasn’t been able to start on Riverfront Park, which will include stabilizing the shore where it was pushed back by the storm, because that would make it ineligible for funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
But Ames said she’s hopeful that money will come relatively soon and only require a 10 percent match from the city — a far cry from the $23.34 million total cost.
Work on repairing the water system is expected to begin this summer with a few smaller fixes the city can cover the cost for. City staff is looking into financing options for larger-scale water projects that could include building a whole new water system that is expected to better protect the city from losing water in another storm like Harvey.
Ames then briefly touched on a variety of other improvements to the city, including a 10 percent drop in crime from 2017 to 2018, the expansion or relocation of several companies to the Beaumont area, Fire Station No. 1 near Babe D. Zaharias Park in Beaumont and plans to renovate part the Tyrrell Park Community Center, among many other accolades.
She also said Beaumont is also expected to see a population over 120,000 — beating a record of 119,175 set in 1960, according to the Texas Almanac.
“The preliminary indications say Beaumont will grow this year,” she said, adding to statements made earlier in the address that experts expect Beaumont’s recent economic growth means it’ll be “be booming for years to come.”