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Salisbury City Council adopts priorities for 2021

By Natalie Anderson
natalie.anderson@salisburypost.com

SALISBURY — A month after brainstorming goals for the upcoming year, city council members on Tuesday adopted a list of priorities aimed at contributing to an inclusive well-run government in 2021.

Members met two days in February for a retreat to reflect on the past year and discuss goals for the current year. They decided to build on a 2020 commitment to an inclusive, creative, well-run, equitable government for 2021.

Within that overarching priority are specific goals set for public safety, infrastructure and human capital, economic prosperity and mobility and community partnerships.

Public safety goals include supporting efforts to provide competitive salaries for law enforcement personnel to recruit and retain employees, creating a police foundation to assist with private donations and recognition for public safety initiatives as well as seeking funds to construct Fire Station No. 3.

Station No. 3 will mean construction of a new fire station on Mahaley Avenue to the existing station at 1604 W. Innes St. The new building has been designed, but it will need another bid since some time has elapsed.

The city also set priorities for its infrastructure and human capital, with a focus on reducing waste and promoting efficiency. Two priorities include improving infrastructure to promote pedestrian and bicycle transportation along with increasing salaries in city departments to remain competitive with the private market and other municipalities.

Both the Public Works Department and the Salisbury Police Department during the retreat requested salary increases for employees in an effort to recruit and retain employees as both report numerous vacant positions.

Goals set for economic prosperity and mobility call on the city to leverage its assets for economic development. That includes its fiber-optic network and proximity to amenities. Priorities include seeking funds to improve and diversify the city’s aging housing stock, redeveloping and selling the Empire Hotel, appointing more people of color to boards and commissions, supporting transit for neighboring communities, exploring alternative transportation types and maximizing economic development benefits of expanded tournament use of city fields and facilities.

Another priority includes promoting the KIVA loan program to encourage minority-led entrepreneurial efforts. KIVA is a nonprofit loan program headquartered in San Francisco that provides zero-interest, zero-fee microloans to women and minorities aspiring to open a small business. The city has worked for months with Self-Help Credit Union, which will serve as the capital access manager and “hub” for the program, to launch the initiative.

Council member David Post said the program will be live Monday, and he anticipates a rush of applications.

The city set priorities to build its partnerships and value its fiscal responsibility. Those priorities include commitment to racial equity and inclusion training and initiatives, a non-discrimination ordinance to ensure a safe space for all community members, a Fair Housing Ordinance in conjunction with state and federal law, options to provide eviction protection for homeowners at risk and leveraging of existing partnerships to engage youth.

Contact reporter Natalie Anderson at 704-797-4246.

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