Statesville mayor reviews year

Statesville's major accomplishment of the past year, according to Mayor Costi Kutteh, was continuing to deliver essential city services without layoffs or a tax increase.

In his annual "Year in Review" address at the city council's final 2010 meeting Dec. 20, Kutteh also recognized the city's workers for their contributions.

"In the midst of horrible economic conditions, the city and its more than 400 employees operated within our budget, without furloughs, layoffs and with no reduction in services," Kutteh said. "The credit for that success goes to our employees and the eight City Council members. I am extremely proud of all your efforts."

2010 marked the eighth consecutive year that the city has avoided increasing the general property tax rate paid by residents and businesses. There was, however, a 5percent increase in electric rates, which Kutteh acknowledged in his remarks.

"While we had utility cost increases, we remained competitive with other providers," he said.

Some other accomplishments the mayor mentioned:

The soon-to-open Northeast Fire Station No. 4, financed with low-interest bonds.

The opening of a 2.2-mile section of greenway, funded by a state grant.

Approval of plans for the renovation of City Hall and phase one of the Streetscape project.

Although Kutteh described the approval process for the City Hall and Streetscape projects as "among the most comprehensively discussed I have seen in my 21-plus years as an elected official," it still hasn't won over all the council members. Councilman Jap Johnson still opposes both projects, voting "no" on virtually every decision and contract that comes before the council.

Kutteh said, "We are not perfect but are sincerely striving every day to be the best Statesville we can be."

In other Statesville news:

Bloomberg Business Week Magazine has named Statesville as the North Carolina runner-up in its annual compilation of each state's best places to raise children. In its Dec. 14 edition, the magazine evaluated 5,418 locations nationwide with populations no larger than 50,000. (Statesville's is about 27,000). The rankings gave the most weight to school performance, number of schools, crime statistics and cost of living. Other factors included job growth, air quality, ethnic diversity and access to recreational facilities. Rural Hill, near Winston-Salem, took top honors.

The council adopted a resolution honoring the city's first black councilman, Arthur E. "Pete" Peterson, who died in November. Peterson served on the council from 1985 to 2007.

"At a time when he had every right to be harsh, he was gracious and conciliatory," Kutteh said. "We can all make our lives better by following his example."