Allentown Mayor Ray O’Connell touted his administration’s accomplishments during his 33-minute 2019 State of the City address this afternoon before a sold out crowd of nearly 150 members of the Allentown Chamber of Commerce and Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce at The Palace Center.
“The state of our city is progressing,” said O’Connell.
The mayor told the crowd, “I have said on many occasions that public safety is my top priority and it is reflected in the city budget. Fifty-three percent of our General Fund resources is spent in the police and fire departments and in emergency medical services. It is paying dividends. The crime rate is continuing to fall.”
The mayor touched on accomplishments in all departments.
In 2018, streets completed eight miles of oil-chip or fog sealing to extend the life of the road. They repaired 18,900 potholes and collected 39,000 cubic yards of leaves.
The Department of Parks & Recreation opened Cedar Beach Pool for the 2018 Summer Season to record attendance and revenue figures.
The Finance Department accomplished record collection of delinquent taxes and Business Privilege Tax collection exceeded its budgeted target by nearly 10 percent.
Building Standards, in the Department of Community & Economic Development, performed nearly 2200 pre-sale inspections in 2018, an increase of 17 percent. They responded to 923 rental unit complaints. They issued 5,700 building permits and performed 6,700 building inspections.
O’Connell reflected on the Emotet virus that infected the city’s information systems in February 2018. “The city had protective measures, but they were inadequate to thwart the attack. The containment and eradication of the virus and the necessary design and rebuild of our central I-T management systems to prevent a future attack was time consuming and costly. The effort to sit at a keyboard and invade and steal is the new battlefield. Implementing necessary precautions is expensive, but so is leaving yourself vulnerable.”
Human Resources planned and executed the strategy for the recently accomplished transfer of the city’s 911 Communications Center employees to Lehigh County as mandated by state law.
According to O’Connell, “The relationship between the city administration and members of City Council has improved immensely. We all want to do what is best for the city and its residents. We may have different ideas on how to get there. When we disagree, we do so with respect and courtesy to each other.”
The Chamber event is the first in what is usually a series of invitations for a mayoral address from service clubs in the city. The state of the city report is a requirement of the city charter.