The year 2009 probably provided the city administration with as many challenges since the 1980s when the Amoco refinery closed.

The year 2009 probably provided the city administration with as many challenges since the 1980s when the Amoco refinery closed.
The economic plight in this country created an austere environment in our city. Revenue declines in sales tax, franchise tax, landfill tipping fees and numerous other revenue sources strained the city’s ability to meet budget levels. Only through the dedicated efforts of the Board of Aldermen, department heads, and city staff were we able to balance the 2009 budget. And, even in an environment of layoffs and salary cuts in our neighboring communities, Sugar Creek was able to maintain our salary structure and not lay off one employee.
On a more positive note, the Sugarland Center retail project at U.S. 24 and Sterling Avenue continues to move forward. A sluggish, almost non-existent bond market continues to hamper acquisition of funding.
However, the supermarket (Country Mart) design is complete, and construction bids have been received. The final plat is now approved, and preliminary final grading is planned for this spring. Also, the developer’s marketing and leasing agent reports that they have executed leases for 71 percent of the initial 83,000 square-foot  retail center.
The Lewis & Clark Expressway project between Sterling and I-435 is now in design, including the bridge over the rails at the north end of Sterling. The project utilizes funds from an earlier federal grant and is in partnership with the cities of Kansas City and Independence. Completion of the design late this year will allow seeking additional federal funds in 2011 and 2012.
Parks and Recreation activity reached an all-time high in 2009. With an emphasis on seniors, we have improved transportation assistance, sponsored day trips, provided overnight tours, conducted a health fair, and provided many other activities. Youth programs have increased in participation. The family fall fest in October attracted more than 700 children. All activities were conducted with a very modest budget and fee structure.
Other accomplishments included working with the Independence School District on improvements to Sugar Creek School and a facelift on Roper Field. The latter improvement provides a baseball facility for Van Horn High School. Also, the city worked with Lafarge in its environmental effort to reduce coal consumption by using landfill gas. LaBenite Park now has power and water and a riverside trail maintained by volunteers with the city’s help. The city hosted a visit by the ambassador to the United States from the Slovak Republic, the Sugar Creek Tamburitzans celebrated their 40th anniversary, and now Sugar Creek is the proud home of its own semi-pro football team, the Sugar Creek Shockers.
The stressed economic conditions in 2009 will continue to hamper the city’s progress as we move into 2010. Be assured that the city administration is prepared to take on the challenges as we position ourselves to take advantage of better economic times in the foreseeable future.