Wichita Mayor Carl Brewer is giving his State of the City address tonight. He's focusing on the highlights of 2012 and the struggles facing the city for 2013.
Brewer says cutting the budget isn't going to be enough and more tough decisions need to be made. Between 2009 and 2013, the city cut approximately $28.2 million from the general fund. The city already approved the 2013 budget. He says they will continue to make cuts while trying to preserve critical services to citizens.
However, Brewer says they need help figuring out what citizens consider critical. He says an upcoming community-wide survey by Wichita State will help the city decide what to focus on.
For example, he says nearly half of Wichita streets are ranked below the nationally accepted benchmark. He says 29% of bridges are in need of rehabilitation or replacement but state funding for infrastructure continues to decline. Brewer says they don't know where money to improve bridges and roads will come from.
Another expensive problem is the city's aging water, sewer and storm drainage systems. Brewer says over the next 30 years, the systems will require significant maintenance or replacement. He says total replacement will cost an estimated $2.1 billion.
Brewer also focused on the importance to compete for new businesses and new jobs. He says in light of losing aviation jobs, the city is now competing against other cities offering economic incentives to attract businesses. Brewer says if the city wants to be in the game, it needs to play the game. But he says they have no dedicated funding for economic development. He says if the city is serious about finding new jobs, dedicated economic development funding is needed. But he says the city needs to find out where that money would come from.
Brewer says these are just some of the issues facing the city. He says it's important to find out citizens want to support, whether it's infrastructure, the arts or economic development. He says taking the time to participate in the Wichita State study will help.