WEST VALLEY CITY — Newly elected mayor Mike Winder gave West Valley's first-ever state of the city address Tuesday night before the City Council and about 50 city employees and residents.
The short but hopeful speech focused on the West Valley's faltering economic situation. Despite sales tax revenue shortfalls of 17 percent, the city has avoided layoffs, Winder said. Regardless, the city needs to find $4.5 million to balance its budget by the end of June. For next fiscal year, shortfalls of $6.5 million are expected.
"The private sector, the county, the state and other agencies have had to do much to tighten their belts and make it through this rugged economic terrain," Winder said. "Make no mistake: West Valley City is feeling that pain with you."
The mayor also addressed West Valley's falling crime rate and a successful ambulance program before looking to the future. He boldly called for local religious leaders, ethnic groups and education professionals to come together for summit meetings in April, June and August.
Winder's optimism was shared by city employees and elected officials after the speech.
"I think our city is well-run," said longtime Councilwoman Carolynn Burt, calling the speech a "new era" for the city.
"There is a silver lining. I just hope the sun breaks through shortly."
Resident Dennis Fynbo agreed.
"This council is a highly optimistic group," Fynbo said. "They listen and they respond, but sometimes they can get carried away."
To see a video of the speech, visit wvc-ut.gov starting Wednesday morning. Contact information for the mayor and council also are available there, as is a new feature that allows residents to file e-complaints about problems such as potholes and broken street lights.