Voelker’s presentation, which was held Jan. 25 at the Charles W. Eisemann Center, centered on Richardson being a place where people can “live and work,” all things that he associated with major development areas in the city, including CityLine and the Core District.
“Every year brings challenges, every year brings occasional setbacks and, ultimately, every year we build on our story of success,” Voelker said in the address. “It's our ability to meet the challenges and work through the setbacks that has made this community resilient for nearly 150 years.”
One of the city's major goals in 2023 is establishing a new City Hall after the Aug. 22 fire. After having city employees spread across several facilities over the second half of 2022, including in the recently opened Innovation Quarter headquarters, Voelker said the council is looking to build a new City Hall next to the current public library.
If approved by voters, the estimated 95,000-square-foot City Hall is expected to begin construction in summer 2024. Funding would be voted on through an expected $48 million bond program in the May 6 general election.
“I thank the community for understanding our displacement as we strive to continue [city services] in a seamless fashion,” Voelker said. “Recently, the big questions centered on finding a cost effective and beneficial solution on whether to repair or replace.”
Voelker said the city is working to update the city’s Parks, Recreation and Open Space Master Plan. Updating the master plan allows the city to refocus its goals in terms of parks and other recreation uses, helping council to plan for future projects. The last update to the master plan was adopted in 2017 and is typically done every five years. Work is also nearly done on Richardson’s first Active Transportation Plan, which will create a vision for enhancing trails, bike lanes and other corridors using existing infrastructure, according to city officials.
In addition to future goals, Voelker shared some of the city’s biggest accomplishments from 2022. These included a significant tax rate reduction in the fiscal year 2022-23 budget that rolled rates back to 2006 levels, distributing $305,000 in grants to almost two dozen local arts organizations and Richardson maintaining its 13-year Triple A bond rating.
The event also honored the recent death of former City Council Member John Murphy, who served from 1991 to 2011, and paid tribute to the municipal employees who responded to the August City Hall fire.
“I'm amazed at the fact we continue to have such stories of success to share,” Voelker said. “I’m honored to have had the opportunity to serve this community as a council member and mayor for these past 10 years. Everyone here is part of that, and you are why the state of this city is strong and vibrant.”
On Jan. 12, Voelker announced that he will not seek re-election for his final term as mayor. Council Members Bob Dubey and Janet DePuy announced they will seek the open mayoral spot in the upcoming May 6 general election.
Watch the full address here.