Our Towns

Meridian: Q&A with Mayor Tammy de Weerd

Mayor Tammy de Weerd delivered her 11th annual State of City address on Wednesday.

Here is more from the mayor on “The Meridian Way”:

Q: How, if at all, has your style changed as mayor since taking office 10 years ago?
A: I’d like to think I’m more patient … kind of. Government is purposely slow to allow for the checks and balances of public comment and transparency. At home and as a small business owner, we can make, in most cases, instantaneous decisions, which is not usually possible in public office. My sense of urgency sometimes conflicts with the speed of government.

Q: What is the best thing about Meridian you wouldn’t change?
A: Our citizens!

Q: What is the most important thing you would change?
A: The “through” traffic. As center of the Treasure Valley, we experience the region’s traffic. We need more “to” destinations — both in having jobs to go to and a vibrant downtown to visit. Downtown, we are working with the community to build on efforts as a “to” destination rather than a “through” location. The completed Meridian split corridor project is already helping us take strides in this direction. Our property and business owners are more involved than ever, exploring how to build on the vision to draw people downtown and engage visitors once there. We want downtown to be an area where investors will see great potential, businesses find success, and residents and visitors alike want to spend time walking, dining, shopping, attending community events, and enjoying quality time with friends and family.

Q: What’s next for the city of Meridian?
A: Working with our business and regional partners in growing and attracting family-wage jobs, which will in turn, bring prosperity for our citizens, our community, and the broader region. In order to remain a vibrant, self-sustaining community, we must encourage and support investment and job creation, strategically attract appropriate businesses, and support existing business by providing a positive environment to operate within. We’re also pursuing opportunities for indoor activity centers for our youth and families who wish to pursue indoor sports and recreation to remain active during the evenings and the cold winter months.

Q: How, if at all, has your style changed as mayor since taking office 10 years ago?
A: I’d like to think I’m more patient … kind of. Government is purposely slow to allow for the checks and balances of public comment and transparency. At home and as a small business owner, we can make, in most cases, instantaneous decisions, which is not usually possible in public office. My sense of urgency sometimes conflicts with the speed of government.

Q: Top three policy priorities?
A: Jobs. Building a successful environment for our businesses, creating synergies among compatible and complimentary business sectors. Using core competencies to cluster specific industries and employment centers and developing a land use/work force development plan to compliment it. Then — work the plan.
Transportation. Enhancing connectivity throughout our community through a comprehensive transportation strategy.
Budgeting. The city maintains a balanced budget and is debt-free. We have five- and ten-year revenue and expenditure plans that follow a ‘performance-based’ budget approach. We will be transitioning our budget process and policies to priority-based system, which will bring greater transparency to decision making and performance/accountability.

Q: What are some of your goals for 2014 as mayor?
A: In the coming year I’d like to build upon our successes, continuing to ensure Meridian remains the safest community in Idaho. But we cannot rest there. We must focus efforts on developing our children, who hold the future in their hands. For example, by working with the Boys & Girls Club in Meridian to expand so they will be able to accommodate more kids who want a safe place and caring adults to spend time with after school. Continue to build an environment where businesses thrive and to attract new businesses. We need to identify and grow the future Scentsys of our world right here in our community.

Q: Nampa Mayor Bob Henry said he wants to know the secret to Meridian’s “impressive park system.” So, what is the secret?
A: As in nearly everything else we do as a city, partnerships are the key to our incredible park system. We create a vision and work with our businesses, citizens, and volunteers to accomplish it. Another important part of our secret — our employees who are passionate about what they are doing and follow the principles of “The Meridian Way.”

Q: Meridian has adopted a pay-as-you-go policy and has no bond or long-term debt. What capital projects has the city been able to accomplish under this policy? What is the next project?
A: We are able to build this way through careful planning, patience and strategic partnership partnerships, as well as the expectation that growth pays its share through impact fees. Our parks, like Settlers Park, have had a large and diverse number of community partners and we continue to see more improvements with new partners. The Parks Maintenance building that opened in May, the sewer and water infrastructure including our reclaimed water system, and the laboratory expansion under way at the Waste Water Treatment Plant, are recent examples. Our next significant project is the Safety Services Training Center.

Q: How can residents have the most impact on their city in 2014?
A: Get involved! Volunteer for the park patrol, be a greeter at the front desk in City Hall, join a commission or committee. We currently have openings on the Meridian Arts Commission, the Air Quality Board, Meridian Development Corporation and Impact Fee Advisory Committee. Share your voice at a community Town Hall meeting, join me at Coffee with the Mayor, and give us your feedback through our online customer comment card. Participate in the upcoming citizen survey, the parks master planning open meetings, or the Public Safety Citizens Academy. There are many opportunities to engage both in City government and within the broader Meridian community.

Q: What are your expectations for dealing with people? What can citizens expect of you?
A: I take pride in engaging and interacting with citizens with respect and honesty. In Meridian, our focus is on our customers. Two years ago, we assembled a group of dedicated city employees who truly exhibited quality customer care; they identified our City approach to customer service called “The Meridian Way”. We/I will answer our citizens in a friendly, timely, professional and solution-oriented manner. We may not always have the answer in 24 to 48 hours, but we will acknowledge their concern and let them know who is looking into it and will follow up.

Q: How can citizens communicate with you?
A: I can be reached by email at MayorTammy@meridiancity.org; at the office, 489-0529; or while out in the community — at church, in the grocery store, at concerts, school or sporting events; at Town Hall meetings, Coffee with the Mayor; on Facebook, Twitter and other social media.

Posted in Our Towns