Mayor Brian Marl Presents Saline’s Annual State of the City Address
Saline Mayor Brian Marl presented his annual State of the City address on Monday, January 8, 2024, during the city’s first council meeting of the year. The 2024 remarks constitute Mayor Marl’s 12th State of the City speech. An annual State of the City address is a part of the city’s charter.
Marl opened his 15-minute presentation on an energetic note, promising to lead the city with optimism. After acknowledging some of the city’s recent challenges, he said, “I know that progressive, forward-thinking leaders do not become demoralized or disheartened – I’ve said it before, I look at hard times and say this too shall pass – I’ve never been more optimistic or hopeful – I am confident that the 2024 calendar year will be one of progress and productivity.”
Following his introduction, Marl dove into a review of the city’s economic development activities. According to the Mayor, the city’s projects include developing an information repository to house information about Saline’s businesses and their needs, partnering with property owners and others to identify strategies for filling empty storefronts, and exploring a potential social district within downtown Saline. He later stated that in alignment with the city’s updated Master Plan, city council is also planning to review its ordinances and that the goal of that would be “to encourage more types of commercial development.”
Marl then touched on an outlook for the city’s housing availability. “Saline continues its forward momentum on expansion and diversification of our housing stock – in fact, this spring, we are looking forward to the development of 207 Monroe Street, thereby adding some new and obtainable housing options to our City’s south-central corridor.”
Marl also spent time touting recent progress and success with city infrastructure challenges and promised to continue aggressively pursuing robust and sustainable infrastructure improvements. “It should be crystal clear to all City residents and business owners – the days of infrastructure delays and deferrals are over. The City, and Council more specifically, will continue to act boldly and invest robustly in our municipal streets, sidewalks, and water/sewer systems.”
Referencing a project that was a frequent source of frustration and a topic of conversation by Saline’s social media users due to its extended duration, Marl shared that the careful yet complicated design of the North Maple/Clark Street/Old Creek project is what ultimately led to its successful completion, which includes the ability to adapt to future needs.
“In 2023, we completed several large [and] impactful infrastructure projects within our municipal boundaries – resurfacing Clark Street, enlargement of our east-belt sewer line, and repaving of North Maple Road, along with a section of Old Creek Drive…oversight of these projects resulted in rather significant cost savings, thereby allowing us to install/repair large sections of municipal sidewalk and plan for additional pedestrian safety improvements.”
The Mayor also touched on the city’s recent investments in water infrastructure and said improvements to the Saline-Waterworks plant, so far, appear to have resulted in a notable decrease in formal complaints. He continued, “Also, the City will continue our valve assessment/rehabilitation initiative, knowing of course, that this project has a direct and unambiguous impact on water quality/clarity.”
Regarding the city’s wastewater treatment facility, Marl said, “Improvements to the WWTP are finally underway, having kicked off this past October. Work will continue through the winter, with heavy construction ramping up this spring and summer. The project will span three construction seasons and is expected to be completed by June 2026.”
Marl then transitioned to talking about the city’s financial stability and other administrative and internal matters. Of note, Marl reported that results of the city’s 2023 annual audit showed Saline received its first ‘perfect’ rating from their external auditing firm and that “The City’s S&P Global Rating has been upgraded from AA to AA+.” According to the investment industry, AA+ ratings, “signify that the issuer is financially sound and has adequate revenues and cash reserves to pay its debts. The risk of default for investors or policyholders is low.”
After welcoming and thanking new and returning council members and acknowledging and thanking the city’s dedicated staff, Marl closed by saying, “Saline is a very special place, and it’s worth fighting for.”
He continued, “I’m a great believer, if you’re going to lead a country, state, a city, or any organization, you’ve got to be an optimist – not a cockeyed optimist, but a realistic one. Someone who believes that through hard work and action, positive things can indeed get done.”