SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) — Savannah Mayor Van Johnson is delivering the 2022 State of the City address.
“The state of our city is rejuvenated,” Johnson proclaimed at the top of the address, the first in-person City of the State since 2019 and the first of Johnson’s administration.
Several alderpersons joined Johnson on the state as he highlighted some of the city’s progress over the last year. Johnson solicited claps throughout the night as he highlighted some of the progress he said the city has made with him at the helm.
Johnson pointed at some of the economic impacts the city has seen due to the finishing of the Enmarket arena, the largest attraction now on the west side of the city.
“But we know there’s more ahead to do. And we’re going to be transparent about it. We are faced with a serious and definitive Dec. 31 deadline,” Johnson said. “To negotiate. A new distribution agreement between Chatham County and eight municipalities for the local option sales tax. Without this funding, Savannah faces a loss of more than $55 million.”
Johnson lauded the Summer Fun and Safety program along with the Savannah Police Department for reducing crime. Johnson said that violent crime statistics dropped significantly since summer 2021.
“Homicides down 36% … commercial robbery down 67%, residential robbery down 22% domestic assault with a gun down 40%. It works,” Johnson said.
Johnson also emphasized the Office of Neighborhood Safety and Engagement or ONSE program which received $1 million in funding. The program is aimed at identifying potential civil unrest in the community and intervening before any lives are lost.
One of those included the introduction of the Vision Zero Action Plan which aims to reduce traffic deaths to zero by 2027. City leaders said the plan could encourage better human behavior and they forecast a drastic drop in traffic deaths.
“One traffic fatality is far too many,” Johnson said.
Johnson also said he wants to modernize the way Savannahians pay their water and sewerage bills and parking citations. The city plans to ditch the manual metering system and replace it with an automated system.
Residents were encouraged to attend where they can submit questions and comments in person.
This is a developing story and will be updated throughout the speech.