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State of the City address: Laredo’s year in review

It’s no surprise that some of the updates involved COVID-19, but the mayor touched on other developments throughout the city as well.
Published: Jan. 27, 2021 at 11:00 PM CST
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LAREDO, Tex. (KGNS) - Laredo Mayor Pete Saenz delivered the annual State of the City address on Wednesday afternoon.

It’s no surprise that some of the updates involved COVID-19, but the mayor touched on other developments throughout the city as well.

The mayor spent at least half of his speech reviewing some non-COVID related accomplishments throughout the city in 2020, things like adding a new airline and keeping the city’s property tax from increasing for the seventeenth consecutive year.

But the pandemic was and still is on everyone’s mind.

“Given the current COVID-19 pandemic, I am addressing you virtually so as to maintain a safe distance, and not place any lives in danger from contracting COVID-19.”

What is usually held in the Sames Auto Arena for the public to attend is now virtual. The 2021 State of the City address is, itself, an example of how the pandemic has changed our lives.

Mayor Saenz began by recognizing the loss of lives, taking a moment of silence.

”Not being able to greet one another with an ‘abrazo’ or a ‘beso’ is contrary to who we are as Laredoans. It truly is a different world we’re living in from just one year ago today.”

Beginning with COVID-19:

- the city general fund revenue dropped by more than $8.3 million dollars.

- the city launched a communications center to help facilitate information relating to COVID-19.

- more than 152,000 COVID-19 tests were administered in Laredo by mid-December.

- the COVID-19 unit within the fire department responded to 2,200 COVID-19 specific calls.

- the Laredo Police Department mobilized a COVID-19 response team to enforce the city’s emergency orders, receiving 30,000 calls relating to the pandemic alone.

- the city distributed more than $2 million dollars through rent and mortgage assistance programs.

- Laredo’s trade took a 17% decrease in trade with Mexico in 2020.

- on the plus side, there has been exponential home construction growth.

”Despite such blows and enormous challenges, we, Laredoans, are resilient and I am confident that we will move Laredo forward.”

As for non-COVID city developments in 2020:

- securing federal funding to restore chacon creek, which will allow for a hike and bike trail and park benches.

- finalizing the purchase of the ponderosa landfill.

- creating four new parks and three new trail paths as well as implementing a bike lending program.

- again, the addition of a new airline that allows for direct flights from Laredo to Mexico City and vice versa.

”I am filled with authentic hope that, together, as a family, a community, with god’s grace, we can and will overcome time and time again, the toughest obstacles that come our way, and together as ‘Laredenses’ we’ll pave the way for a brighter future for all Laredoans in the coming year and beyond. God bless our city, god bless our nation. Viva nuestro Laredo.”

After the speech aired, KGNS News anchor Jerry Garza interviewed Mayor Saenz one on one and asked him about his hopes for the future. The mayor says he’s hopeful that the bridges can reopen by late February and that the city can administer 5,000 vaccines per day.

But again, these are hopes and nothing is set.

If you’d like to watch the speech in its entirety, you can go to our KGNS Facebook page and click the “videos” tab.

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