Farmington Mayor Larry Forsythe offered a positive view of the city’s progress over the past year when he gave his annual State of the City Address at Thursday’s Business and Community Luncheon held at Memorial United Methodist Church due to Centene Center still undergoing repairs after experiencing significant water damage from a water main break in August.
Taking the stage, Mayor Forsythe said, “Farmington is doing very, very well. Our budget for 2024 will be $57 million. When I joined the Farmington City Council in 1993, the budget was around $7 million. Now we are at $57 million. We are growing, and with our growth come the headaches, but we are doing well. Our general fund is about $17 million, and our proprietary fund is around $18 million. Some of the major projects that you are going to see next year include the H Highway sidewalk, and it’ll have a greenway because we are going to save the ditch. And we always do street resurfacing, so that’ll be about $800,000 or $900,000 for the sidewalk.
“It’s a million dollars this year for water and sewers. We’ve got the Industrial Drive’s water tank that needs attention. That’s the one that’s up past the UPS building. We put it in 40 years ago or 45 years ago. We are going to clean it out and put it back into service. It’ll be a $1.1 million upgrade. And in the next 10 to 15 years, you will see the airport expanding to 1,000 or maybe 2,000. We’ve got to buy some more houses to make that happen. We are going to spend $6 to $8 million on the upgrade for the water park, the civic center, and the sports complex.”
According to Forsythe, city parks would also be upgraded, and an architect has been hired to evaluate potential improvements. He acknowledged that the dollar amounts seemed steep but pledged that good stewardship would be followed to ensure the best possible results for the citizens of Farmington.
“Speaking of money, we have about $3 million budgeted for utility reliability improvements and quality control,” he said. “It’s high, but you’ve got to have it.”
He energetically described a planned relocation of the city’s utility office, currently housed at Long Memorial Hall on Columbia Street, along with a variety of other offices and city departments.
“It’s very inconvenient right now for the elderly and mobility impaired,” he said. “If you want to pay your bill with an envelope, you get out of your car. Because it’s a one-way street, you walk around your car, maybe in ice or snow, and put your envelope in the frozen collection box, then walk back to your car and leave.”
The city has considered a variety of potential new locations as a new location for the offices. Ultimately, the city decided that the most efficient solution was to purchase the former office of Big River Broadband located at 101 South Jefferson St. The building had served as the original fire station for the city fire department until a new combined fire and police campus was constructed on Columbia Street in downtown Farmington. The building was sold to the communications company in 2012. Changes in the telecommunications business led Big River to change the location of its headquarters, leaving the building unused.
The size, physical configuration and location of the former firehouse building make it an ideal address for relocating the offices.
“It’s going to be very nice,” said Forsythe. “Everything will be on one level, and the payment drop box will be easy to access from the driver window when you pull up to it. Development services, the utilities office, the IT department with servers, and the tourism board will all be housed there.”
When the project is complete, the city will host an open house for the public to see the improvements and convenience created by the relocation.
“We hope to see everyone there,” Forsythe said.
The luncheon was sponsored by Hearing Care Partners (HCP), and its co-owner, Dr. Karen Melton, took the stage and gave a short presentation on ear care practices.
Melton then discussed current trends with hearing assistance devices that are now available to consumers in regular retail outlets.
“We ordered all of the over-the-counter products that are available on the market and tested them in our office,” she said. “It was an interesting experiment, and we found that Jabra offers far and away the best over-the-counter product for about $1,600. Interesting fact — in March, those were pulled from the market, and you can only get them by ordering online.
“What most people don’t realize is for about half that same cost, $800, you could come to our offices and be evaluated by a certified hearing care professional and be custom-fitted for hearing devices. Also, an exciting new wireless technology is coming to the general consumer market, like Bluetooth, and it will be used with things like televisions, tablets… and ties the device directly to whatever hearing device you might be using — earbuds, hearing aids.
Melton expressed her appreciation for the continued support from the chamber and said it was instrumental in her company’s growth as it approaches its 20-year anniversary.
With flooring repairs having been completed, the November chamber luncheon meeting will once meet next month at Centene Center.
To learn more about Hearing Care Partners, visit its webpage at https://www.hearingcarepartners.com/
To learn more about the benefits of membership with the Farmington Regional Chamber of Commerce, visit its webpage at https://www.farmingtonregionalchamber.com/