The Gazette covers City Hall, now a flood-damaged icon on May's Island in the Cedar River

Stealth ‘Condition of the City’ address has Halloran assuring city is ‘open for business;’ Fagan says city’s flood recovery will be a model for the nation

In Brian Fagan, City Hall, Floods, Mayor Kay Halloran on February 25, 2009 at 7:33 pm

Without prior promotion, Mayor Kay Halloran and Brian Fagan, mayor pro tem, last night gave a Condition of the City speech, saying the city is working to recover from disaster in a way that makes the city better than ever.

The speech was part preview: Halloran is scheduled to reprise her comments at a public forum on Friday.

In PowerPoint-aided comments, Halloran last night forewarned Cedar Rapidians that “times will be difficult” in the city for the next few years as the city works to recover from the 2008 flood.

At the same time she assured that the city is “open for business” and she promised that she and her council colleagues will be “vigilant” on spending and continue to work to bring about an even more cost-effective, customer-friendly city government.



Halloran said, too, that the city will continue to work hard to change “very draconian” state policies that she said force cities to be too dependent on local property-taxes. Those taxes “gouge” the city’s businesses and residents and will “cripple our city” as it works to recover, she said.


Fagan said the state of the city’s condition is a tale of two cities — a city before the flood and a city recovering from a flood.

Fagan recalled the images of last June, calling them “difficult” and at the same time “inspiring” and “representative” of the giving and generosity of Cedar Rapids.

Fagan said the city’s needs and costs remain “staggering,” and he put the cost of recovery at between $2 billion and $5 billion. For housing needs alone, the city needs more than $200 million to fix, buyout, relocate and rebuild housing, he said.

In citing the dollar figures, Fagan addressed head on the frequent criticism often heard about the City Council’s use of consultants that have and are providing the city with what Fagan called “expert guidance” in the flood recovery.

He put the cost of consultants at about $5 million, defended the spending and said the expertise was the city’s best way to ensure that Cedar Rapids’ flood recovery is “the best recovery this country has ever seen.”

Fagan, too, talked about the city’s plans to make sure it renovates or rebuilds some 300 flood-damaged public city buildings and facilities in the best way it can for future generations.

He made reference to a comment last week from a Linn County supervisor, who suggested that the city was pursuing wants and not needs as the city talked about the possibility of building new facilities. It meets a public need to study rebuilding options to see what best serves customers and what is sustainable, efficient and affordable for the long term, Fagan said.

In the city’s flood recovery, Fagan singled out several high points: the public-private effort that saved the city’s water supply; the city’s ability to get its waste-water treatment plant back on line quickly; the city’s ability to get a flood-protection plan in place in four months. The speed of the latter two accomplishments was unrivaled in the nation, he said.

Fagan said the last eight months has brought some “incredibly tense times” and plenty of “vigorous debate” at City Hall and throughout the community.

For all of it, the city will come through the recovery a better city, he said.

  1. This is the best I’ve heard yet from a city official! In one day, we get both a confident city and a confident nation. Yes, tough times are ahead of us, but we are focusing, not on rebuilding Cedar Rapids, but rebuilding it better than what was ever thought possible! You don’t make a city better by criticizing its situation and doing nothing about it; you make a city better by being positive and spearheading a true community-wide effort. Don’t be part of the problem, be part of the solution!

  2. Brian Fagan’s dismissal of the sniping comments from the county supervisor ranks is exactly what we need more of from our elected officials: leadership.

  3. We need some Treasure Hunters that can look into the stimulus package that the Feds but out and see if we can do projects to make jobs and better the steam situation downtown. We have the land now, old man river provided it.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: