Buckhorn's State of the City focused on future

- Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn used his annual State of the City address praise achievements over the last year and remind administrators and residents of the work still needed to be done.

"We built a city with an identity, folks. A city that, just this year, was named the Best City in the Southeast by Money magazine," he said to a charged-up crowd. 

Mayor Buckhorn commended the city's successes: the thriving Riverwalk and $850 million worth of new projects underway in Tampa.

He didn't, however, ignore the city's problems. 2015 was plagued with teen violence.

The mayor credited the city's "Stay and Play" program for reversing the dangerous trend. The program kept some city parks and recreation centers open until midnight over the summer, with cops and community leaders there chaperoning.

"Don't tell me government can't make a difference. Don't tell me the kids aren't safer when they're in parks and recreation centers under the watch and guidance of mentors who will lead them on the right path and not the wrong path," Buckhorn said.

He also addressed 2015's torrential rains flooding portions of South Tampa and resulting in thousands of potholes on roads. City council axed a $251 million plan to fix Tampa's dated storm water drainage system late last year.

Buckhorn says he's not backing down.

"Ladies and gentlemen, we can't not do and fix this problem. It's too pressing, it's too important. I know it's going to cost money. I know it's not free," he said.  

Overall, Buckhorn says the city has come together over his past five years as Tampa's CEO.

"This is a city who's time has come. We built this. The state of our city is good, and the future is within our grasp," Buckhorn said.

The mayor also mentioned ongoing plans to work with the Department of Transportation to tweak and expand the city's streetcar system to better connect neighborhoods spanning from Tampa Heights all the way to Ybor City. He also reinforced his support of a rail system to relieve some of congestion on the Bay area's interstate system.

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