Mayor Rick Sollars
A Vision for the Future
In late 2013, the City of Taylor, like many cities in southeast Michigan, needed strong, compassionate, and proven leadership to weather the economic challenges facing the city of Taylor. The residents overwhelmingly selected local businessman Rick Sollars to lead the city as Mayor.
Mayor Sollars’ strong leadership skills, founded in lengthy public and private sector work experiences, have come to the forefront when Taylor needed them the most. A man of vision who is also extremely responsive to the needs of “his neighbors,” Mayor Sollars publicly refers to Taylor as “The Capital of Downriver.” He strives not only for success, professionalism and stability, but to bring a “world-class” outlook to the community where he grew up and now raises his own family.
When Mayor Sollars took office in November 2013, the City was in the midst of a state-mandated Deficit Elimination Plan which was created by a $5M deficit in the general fund with the city on the verge of an appointed emergency manager.
Today, under Mayor Sollars’ leadership, the city has not only eliminated the $5M general fund deficit, but now maintains a $5M surplus / fund balance. Much of this was accomplished through fair and reasonable collective bargaining with all of the city unions. Now all of our unions have ratified long term collective bargaining agreements that provided them the stability they needed for their memberships while providing the City of Taylor with long-term staffing, healthcare, and retirement savings.
Mayor Sollars’ first term has been marked by countless achievements, grounded in positive change accomplished through real (and reasonable) solutions with a primary focus of “running the city like a business” with the goal of enhancing the services they provide, by reducing waste and implementing cost containment measures, and generating new revenue sources through grants and economic development.
A stable and affordable workforce, along with numerous economic development projects and new revenue sources has resulted in a better long term financial outlook for the City of Taylor. Bond ratings through Fitch and Standard & Poor’s have shown substantial improvements in the City’s bond ratings and general economic outlook. The independent auditing firm, Plante Moran, which audits several municipalities annually, recently published the city’s 2016 Financial Audit with zero financial and or material deficiencies. City property taxes in Taylor were reduced by one mill in 2015.
Business Activity Improves
Over the past three years, the overall image of Taylor has grown as its fiscal outlook has greatly improved.
The rebound of the economy has resulted in major investments – and reinvestment – in the business community. Much of that has occurred in the “Eureka!” business district between Telegraph and Allen, where Rouse Properties has invested heavily in Southland Center while Menards is redeveloping the old 80-plus acre Gibraltar Trade Center into “Trader’s Point,” a combination of three major retailers and an array of smaller retail, restaurants and the like.
Other key points of business development have been Kroger, located at Ecorse and Monroe, which expanded and added a fuel station to the tune of $8.8M as well as Taylor Ford, just completed a $6M expansion on Telegraph Road.
From staffing levels in key spots to previously closed buildings and unique programs, Mayor Sollars has continually sought measurable improvements for tax dollars throughout his first term.
He reopened Northwest Pool, the City's only outdoor swimming facility, in 2014. He reopened the Recreation Center shortly thereafter. Renovations at the Sheridan Center Open Air Pavilion in Heritage Park are not only breathtaking, but highly functional and award-winning.
With curbside trash and recycling a problem, the Sollars Administration negotiated a better deal with Green for Life Environmental, which now offers not only weekly service, but bulk pickup and weekly recycling.
The first major renovations at the Taylor Meadows Golf Course address play, practicality and safety. First "Fix It! Taylor" and now it's improved sibling, "iCare Taylor," give residents City of Taylor mobile applications that offer "government at their fingertips."
Sollars worked with his Police Department and added staffing and programs. As a result, crime has declined year-after-year since he took office. After seeing staffing levels and programs at the fire department travel through hills and valleys for several years, department has been stabilized.
Mayor Sollars has used key funding sources to the City’s advantage. After negotiating an extension on an original SAFER fire grant of over $8M, Taylor gained another $4.3M grant that saved 15 firefighters from layoff and created a sustainable department of 36 fire suppression personnel and three administrators. The City was able to bolster emergency responders by purchasing new equipment and smaller SUV vehicles that make the department more up-to-date and versatile.
A $2M SAW grant is enabling Taylor to totally evaluate its storm sewers, while cleaning and televising. A $500,000 COPS grant added four new officers, focused on high crime areas in the community.
Focus On Capital Improvements
Mayor Sollars has also focused on capital improvements, investing millions of dollars in road renovations. Taylor started a very aggressive residential street repair program in 2015 that has carried through 2016 and will continue into the future, while major resurfacings have also taken place along Eureka, Racho, Superior, Beech Daly and Allen roads.
Meanwhile, buildings and grounds have also become a special focus. Major improvements have taken place in Heritage Park (new signage, splash pad and Coan Lake seawall installed; improvements to parking lots, walking paths, bridges, docks and fences), City Hall (interior, exterior and parking lots), the reopened Recreation Center (new indoor baseball facility planned and flooring replaced throughout), the reopened Northwest Pool (deck resurfaced), and Taylor Meadows Golf Course (first major expansion and renovation to course since its creation).