While the future for Cabot is "very positive and bright" if community and economic development is to continue, the city must shift to thinking regionally, Mayor Bill Cypert said Monday. Cypert made his remarks during the annual State of the City, presented prior to the monthly City Council meeting.
"It’s not about ‘I’ or ‘we’ in Cabot. It’s all about ‘us,’ the city, county, state, country, and world economy," Cypert said.
Cypert used his address to announce the recently formed Community Development committee of the city council.
The committee, chaired by Kevin Davis, is to "further define and improve quality of life, education, job opportunities, and infrastructure for the long term with input and support of community residents and businesses," Cypert said.
In his presentation, Cypert said the area’s economic health is shown in tax records. Each of the city’s main revenue sources are growing, with the city sales tax, up 1.39 percent; county sales tax up 2.49 percent, and the Advertising and Promotion tax up 2.13 percent, he said.
With this increase, Cabot remains one of the fastest growing cities in Arkansas, Cypert said. Most importantly, the growth has been stable and steady with no "flashes in the pan," he said.
Much of Cypert’s presentation was statistical, and which, he said, show Cabot remains one of the fastest growing cities in the state.
Cabot School District has more than 10,600 students. It is the seventh largest district in state and the largest employer in the county, Cypert said. Interestingly, Cabot’s ratio of children in school to the general population is one of the lowest in the state, Cypert said. While the district attracts families with children to the city, the effect also draws retiring grandparents who move to the area to be near grandchildren, he noted.
With an eye toward business, Cabot’s trade area, a 10-mile radius around the city, has more than 91,000 people; the School District has more than 41,000. The Chamber of Commerce has nearly 400 members, nearly 1,200 business licenses have been issued in the city and there are more than 9,600 water customers, Cypert said.
Little Rock Air Force Base remains the greatest single social and economic influencer in the area, Cypert said. The air base brings $750 million to central Arkansas economy each year, and about 40 percent of Cabot residents have connections to the base, "in one form, shape or fashion," he said.
Besides the schools, Cabot’s hometown, family-oriented atmosphere with "big city amenities nearby" draws many people, Cypert said.
The city’s water and wastewater infrastructure is sound with long-term plans and funding to maintain them. Based on projections, "We have water well into the 22nd Century … Wastewater, we are almost through this century," he said.
There is significant development potential in the Cabot Waterworks service area, Cypert said. "You do not grow without that," he said.
During the past year there have been 13 drainage and 6 street projects completed, as well as two major sidewalk projects, those being along Main Street to Eastside Elementary with a raised crosswalk, and along Lincoln street from Pine Street to Oak Meadows.
Cypert’s administration oversaw the successful campaign for the sales and use tax re-funding for bonds to fund six capital improvement projects, he said. The projects include wastewater system improvements, a new library, sports complex, the north interchange with U.S. Highway 67/167, and the Highlands neighborhood drainage improvements.
The city has also revised ordinances enforcement of door-to-door peddler limitations; began "paperless" City Council meetings with tablet computers; and bid a contract for city cell phone service with significant savings, Cypert said.
The police department has added four patrol officers and one more school resource officer.
The fire department saw the start of construction of new fire station to serve the north Arkansas Highway 5 area, including Greystone and Magness Creek areas.
The new station was built on a "pay-as-we-go" basis and is expected to open soon, and the department has purchased a new brush truck and incident command vehicle, Cypert said.
Work is under way to install adaptive "real time" traffic management measures during 2014. Currently, plans and funding are ready for the traffic signal at the junction of Arkansas Highway 38 with 367 at the railroad overpass. "It is bought and paid for," Cypert said.
This is where the new U.S. Highway 67/167 interchange will connect, Cypert said.
There 19 projects planned for the 2014 to 2018 timeframe, Cypert said. There likely will be additions to the list as the newly formed city council Community Development Committee gathers momentum. Altogether, the projects mean nearly $50,000,000 will be invested in the city’s infrastructure, he said.
The projects include beautification work along U.S. 67/167, from the Pulaski County line to north of exit 16. "We will be mowing, picking up litter, and making it look good," Cypert said.
Traffic circles on Lincoln Street, at Locust Street and Spirit Drive, in partnership with the School District. A third is already completed, built by the school district, by junior high school north; Diamond Creek drainage improvements, paid for by grants;
District Court security with scanners, video recording and other measures; city hall parking lot renovation, with monument sign and StreetScape design.
A westbound left-turn lane for Arkansas Highway 321 at the junction with Lakewood Drive; Magness Creek Safe Routes to School Sidewalk with grant and city funding.
There will be a "multimillion-dollar street overlay projects that will continue through 2023 with grant and turnback funding, Cypert said.
North Terminal Interchange; Highlands area drainage improvements; new library; expanded facilities for the Cabot Veterans Park Community Center; wastewater collection system improvements; new sports and aquatic complexes; new fire station on Arkansas Highway 5; StreetScape improvements on West Main Street between Fourth and 10th streets.
"Quality of life is economic development. We are building a city where your kids and grandkids will want to live," Cypert said.