The city of Blue Springs is welcoming back KCP&L, creating a new human relations commission, plus St. Mary’s Medical Center is in town to stay, say both Mayor Carson Ross and St. Mary’s CEO Annette Small.

“Reinvestment and growth” was this year’s theme for Mayor Ross’s State of the City address during the Blue Springs Chamber of Commerce’s monthly luncheon on Thursday.

“We accomplished much, but still have much to do,” Ross said to a crowd that included a number of dignitaries such as Independence Mayor Don Reimal and Lee’s Summit Mayor Randy Rhoads at the Adams Pointe Conference Center. The mayor recapped the city’s progress over the last year highlighting the Woods Chapel Road expansion and EMS tax levy increase in August 2013, as well as announcing plans for the current year.

He added that the city still has the second lowest tax levy, at $18 a month, in the Kansas City metropolitan area and lowest tax rate in the surrounding area.

“We sustained an increase of development since the economic recession (of 2008),” Ross said. He reinforced this point with the number of new businesses that opened up this past year, such as Plowboys BBQ at 3111 S.W. Missouri 7 and the newly renovated Blue Springs 8 Theatre now under independent ownership at 1901 N. Missouri 7.

And besides just focusing on the commercial aspects of Blue Springs, there were updates on other facets of the city.

“We’re here to stay,” said St. Mary’s CEO Annette Small in regard to the future of St. Mary’s Medical Center. In May 2013, HCA Midwest, owners of Centerpoint Medical Center in Independence, and Carondelet Health, owner of St. Mary’s, announced a purchase agreement where the Blue Springs hospital would be sold to HCA. The fate was uncertain for the hospital in the time between the announcement until recently where both parties decided to cancel the deal due to the extended period of waiting for Federal Trade Commission approval.

“We’ll be here to continually serve the community,” Small said.

Ross happily announced the return of KCP&L to Blue Springs. The energy company is reopening its Blue Springs service center this spring. The remodeled facility is located on U.S. 40 and will house 30 to 35 employees.

A new city commission could soon be established, pending City Council approval, said Blue Springs Communications Director Kim Nakahodo. Devised by Blue Springs Police Chief Wayne McCoy, a human relations commission would work to ensure community peace amongst its residents, regardless of age, color, ethnicity, orientation, etc.

“A lot of cities all over have this kind of commission already,” said McCoy. “It would be a wonderful addition and help the city become more responsive in addressing its residents’ needs.” For example, he said, the city could benefit from the new commission’s ability to mediate quarrels between next-door neighbors. Nakahodo added that the proposal could possibly be on the next council agenda.

Despite the recent news of the University of Missouri pulling its physical presence out of the long-awaited Missouri Innovation Park development and closing its Mizzou Center later in the fall, the MIP project is still a work in progress, according to Blue Springs Economic Development Corporation President Brien Starner. He says a “major manufacturing company” is considering locating at the park’s site.

And expect the city’s website to be revamped, said Ross. The mayor announced the city’s website will be redesigned this year and make it more accessible for both businesses and citizens.

“We’re still a city on the move,” Ross said.