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When Henderson mayor Andy Hafen was first elected to the city council in 1987, the population sat around 50,000.
Hafen recently gave his eighth and final state of the city address, where he addressed a city that now boasts a population of more than 300,000.
By most measurements that growth is a good thing, but can the city keep up its essential services for such a blossoming population?
Hafen thinks so, and joins KNPR for the State of the City series of interviews with mayors from all over the state.
“I believe Henderson has been one of the best cities as far as growth goes and being able to keep up with that growth,” Hafen said.
He believes there will be enough jobs to keep the growth going in his once small city.
“We in the state of Nevada have gone from the bottom of the list to the top of the list in creating jobs. I see that continuing on for the next couple of decades”
However, he is concerned about covering the necessary services like police and firefighters for those extra residents because of the property tax cap.
The cap was put in place during the boom years when property prices were skyrocketing, but the cap was not removed when the housing bust hit the state causing prices to plummet.
Hafen, along with several other mayors and local leaders, hope the Legislature will tackle the problem this year.
“We really are going to be keeping our eye open this coming legislative session with the property tax issues that are going to be faced,” he said.
The mayor is not concerned about selling a property tax increase to the people in his city because he feels people will understand that it is not an "increase" but a correction to make local coffers "whole" again.
The Henderson city council voted this week to put a six-month moratorium on recreational marijuana, which is something the mayor supports.
Hafen believes the approach on recreational marijuana is the same as the approach to medical marijuana. The city is not saying marijuana businesses will never be set up there. The city council just wants to take it slow.
“Whatever we do we need to make sure that we do it right,” he said, pointing out that state regulations for recreational marijuana aren't expected to be finished until the summer.
One thing Hafen is very supportive of is the reorganization of the Clark County School District. He believes it will help not only Henderson but the entire district.
“One of the things I’m really looking forward to is you’re giving those principals, those school administrators, some autonomy and then on top of that you have those site-based councils, which are going to weigh in. Parents are going to be involved, administrators, teachers, support staff. So it’s just a whole community effort.”
Hafen's last city council meeting will be in June. After he leaves office, he plans on being a very dedicated grandpa to his 13 grandchildren.
Andy Hafen, mayor, Henderson
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