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Mishawaka Mayor Dave Wood delivers State of the City address

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Screenshot captured via YouTube
Mishawaka Mayor Dave Wood delivered Mishawaka's State of the City address on Monday, March 28.

Mishawaka Mayor Dave Wood delivered the 121st State of the City address Monday evening under the theme “Getting Big Projects Done.”

In his speech, Wood said the 2020 census showed that Mishawaka had grown by 6.2 percent, making it the fastest-growing community in St. Joseph County.

He also said the city’s crime reports fell by 0.3 percent in 2021, the third year in a row with a decline in crime.

“Despite our challenges, we remain strong — and we’re getting stronger,” Wood said. “We’re growing even faster lately, we’re financially stable and holding steady, and we are safe and getting safer.”

However, Wood said the city expenses surpassed revenue last year. The city’s circuit breaker caused an $8.3 million loss, and its budget was tighter than normal due to staff raises.

“We do feel like that was warranted, especially given the inflation,” Wood said. “But also, there’s a lot of competition for workers, workers, workers. And we’re seeing that at the city level as well.”

Wood also proposed hiring nine new public safety officers — three police officers and six firefighters. The police positions and three firefighter positions would be funded by American Rescue Plan dollars, while the remaining firefighter positions would be supported by increased EMS fees.

Mishawaka already dedicated $1 million of its $11.8 million in ARP funding to premium pay for city employees. On Monday, Wood proposed allocating $3 million of the remaining funds to public safety, $6 million to infrastructure improvements and $1.8 million to discretionary projects decided by the city administration and council.

He said the city is also vying for a share of the South Bend-Elkhart Region’s $50 million state READI grant.

That funding would support a second phase of The Mill mixed-use residential complex, a 350,000 square-foot youth sports complex and a number of improvements to George Wilson Park.

Other “big projects” covered by Wood’s theme include turning the former Liberty Mutual Insurance building into a combined city hall, police headquarters and utility office and redeveloping the former Dodge/RMG site, which the has recently moved to acquire.

“The cost to not act will be far greater than the cost to act,” Wood said. “I think that the site’s history is significant, but the site’s future could be an even better story going forward.”

Mishawaka’s full State of the City report is available on the city’s website.

Contact Gemma at gdicarlo@wvpe.org or follow her on Twitter at @gemma_dicarlo.

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Gemma DiCarlo comes to Indiana by way of Athens, Georgia. She graduated from the University of Georgia in 2020 with a degree in Journalism and certificates in New Media and Sustainability. She has radio experience from her time as associate producer of Athens News Matters, the flagship public affairs program at WUGA-FM.