TAYLORSVILLE — Mayor Russ Wall's 16th birthday, he said, was a special one.
It was a milestone year, Wall said, one that saw "many new opportunities" open up to him, including driving and getting a job.
"I made many decisions at 16 that have impacted, both good and bad, the rest of my life," Wall said during his State of the City address Wednesday night at Taylorsville City Hall.
Now, as Taylorsville celebrates its 16th year of incorporation, elected officials and residents are likewise faced with decisions that will impact the city's future for years to come, he said.
"We have some difficult decisions ahead regarding funding and philosophy, but I am confident that … we can overcome these trying 'teenage' years and emerge as a full-grown, beautiful, respected and admired city of the future," Wall said.
The mayor proposed a handful of initiatives for 2012 designed to improve upon what he called an "excellent" 2011.
The creation of community councils in each City Council district, Wall said, would be a way to get more residents involved and looking at ways to improve the city.
"There is an ordinance that allows for such," he said, "and I believe that we can use (community councils) to get information to the community, as well as feedback from the community."
Wall also said he plans to begin budgeting this year for a multipurpose center to house the events of the city's active Arts Council.
"Let's start putting money aside to save for the multipurpose center that we've needed for years," he said.
Wall also addressed recent concerns about the West Valley City animal shelter, which partners with Taylorsville for animal services.
Concerned residents have spoken to the city councils of both municipalities in recent weeks about allegations that the shelter's carbon monoxide gas chamber has not been functioning properly.
West Valley City officials say issues with animals surviving gassings were caused by employee error, not equipment malfunction, and have been addressed by shelter management through additional training.
Residents have challenged Taylorsville leaders to review policies in place at the shelter. Wall used his State of the City address as an opportunity to challenge both cities to "seriously consider alternate solutions to animal euthanasia of any type, except when it is absolutely unavoidable."
"To that end, I would propose that we commit to certification as a no-kill animal shelter by the year 2015," Wall said. "With the help of volunteer groups who are ready and willing to help, I think this is an attainable goal."
West Valley City Manager Wayne Pyle has said a no-kill shelter is not realistic for the city because of the large feral cat population. However, Pyle said the city is always looking for ways to increase adoptions and reduce euthanasia at the shelter.
Taylorsville also will be focused on making it easier for motorists to get around in the city, including addressing the "huge road problem" of 1300 West at 5400 South, Wall said.
"This has been a difficult project because it is not only a road project but also a very complicated utility project and potential disaster," he said. "We are happy to report that reconstruction will begin in the spring."
Wall also touted economic development successes in 2011, a year that saw the number of storefront businesses increase from 839 to 845. The city's economic development team — organized last year — currently is working with 48 potential new businesses, he said.
In addition, sales tax revenue in 2011 increased 3.5 percent over 2010, the mayor said.
"Because of the economic downturn, the city has struggled to keep up with the basic needs of the city, let alone wants," Wall said. "The best way to turn this around is to invest in our business community."
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