2020 State of the City
by Mayor Cathy Hoechst
Full document with Department Accomplishments here (PDF)
What a challenge for all of us in many different ways! Life will not return to the way it was prior to 2020; much has changed due to COVID-19. As we adjust to living life differently, hopefully we will have renewed our appreciation of what used to be: spontaneous hugs, handshakes and smiles. Now we wash our hands frequently, no handshakes; social distancing, no hugs and face coverings do not allow us to see our smiles. But we move on!
During 2020, our city staff adjusted to working from home for those who worked in the traditional office environment, and others maintained working, but in a new atmosphere. We adjusted city hall hours and closed on Fridays, since few residents came in on that day.
The City hired a new finance director and the 2020-2021 budget reflects a reduced millage rate, with our citizens benefiting from a reduced city tax bill. All of our city advisory boards and the City Council learned how to conduct meetings using Zoom, a virtual meeting format using the iPad or personal computer.
Robert Bell, our police chief retired after 27 years of service and we hired Interim Chief, Brett Meade Ed. D., who has completed a full assessment of our police department. We will begin reviewing the report in the upcoming weeks.
We selected the architects and CMAR for the fire stations and municipal complex/warehouse, those projects are moving forward. Our fire department achieved accreditation and we received several grants for utilities and leisure service projects.
Looking towards 2021 the city is operationally focusing on selecting a new police chief, after a national search. We will finalize the update of the strategic plan and further align it with our budgeting process. We will be revisiting our city website functionality to improve communications with our residents.
We focused in 2020 on solutions for parking downtown and I believe in 2021 we will commit to the solution and have a plan for a parking facility. We will continue to implement the recommendations from our parks and recreations master plan and the City pool will have its refurbishing complete.
We will continue our plans for the two fire stations, however, City Council will revisit the need for a third station, which had been previously recommended.
Although many events changed, were postponed or cancelled in 2020, we are planning events in 2021 with the necessary precautions. Footprints of the events and size may be altered for this year to accommodate COVID-19 limitations.
There will continue to be challenges and changes but we will stay focused and progress towards keeping Mount Dora “Someplace Special”.