Troy Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Tara Tomcsik-Husak welcomes community members to the 2023 Troy State of the City address at Somerset Collection May 3.

Troy Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Tara Tomcsik-Husak welcomes community members to the 2023 Troy State of the City address at Somerset Collection May 3.

Photo by Brendan Losinski

Troy's State of the City address highlights livability, stability and cooperation

‘We must invest in our infrastructure, but we must also invest in our curb appeal’

By: Brendan Losinski | Troy Times | Published May 10, 2023

 Troy Mayor Ethan Baker stressed community cooperation, quality-of-life improvements, and consistency in his 2023 State of the City address May 3.

Troy Mayor Ethan Baker stressed community cooperation, quality-of-life improvements, and consistency in his 2023 State of the City address May 3.

Photo by Brendan Losinski


TROY — On May 3, Troy Mayor Ethan Baker spoke at Somerset Collection to give his 2023 State of the City Address.

The speech highlighted the city’s recent accomplishments, challenges and plans for the future.

“The state of our city is optimistic, and, yes, of course, the state of our city is very, very strong,” Baker said in his address. “The city continues to maintain our triple-A bond rating from Standard and Poor’s. The proposed 2024 budget is within city policy that calls for a range of 20% to 30% for general fund unassigned fund balance. The city continues to invest in the long-term well-being of the city with over $31.6 million in capital expenditures for fiscal year 2024. … Through disciplined financial control the city was once again under budget by $4.9 million for general fund expenditures. … The total city of Troy 2023 state equalized value tops $8.1 billion, which places us as the fourth-largest taxable value in the state of Michigan.”

He placed public safety as the highest priority for city officials, specifically noting the recent debate over the fate of Troy’s firefighter incentive plan.

“Public safety is our No. 1 priority, and that will always remain a constant. Our residents demand it, our businesses depend on it, and our city government is right there lockstep with you on all of that,” said Baker. “We have just gone through an unprecedented time with our Fire Department. … After over four decades, the IRS forced us to terminate our existing firefighter incentive plan and trust and compelled us to create a whole new plan in a matter of months. … This ran the risk of being the biggest crisis facing our city in many years and had the potential to decimate our Fire Department and leave our city in an unprotected and vulnerable state. So, we jumped into action and dealt with a combination of operation, legal and emotional components.”

He stated that the new plan was well received by the vast majority of parties involved, but admitted that it was a situation where everyone could not walk away happy with the outcome.

“On April 17, City Council unanimously voted to terminate the old plan and trust and vote to create the new plan, which was wholeheartedly supported by city management, Fire Chief (Peter) Hullinger, the fire station representatives and the overwhelming majority of firefighters themselves,” Baker continued.

Additionally, he highlighted a new partnership between the Troy police and the Oakland Community Health Network, citing a recent incident where an armed suicidal individual was successfully negotiated with using resources provided by this partnership and was convinced to enter into mental health treatment.

Baker went on to talk about the upcoming update to Troy’s master plan and his hope to receive feedback from residents on what they hope the future of their city will look like. He stressed that Troy is successful because of its infrastructure, but also because it is a place that people want to call home.

“While we tout the lowest tax property millages in the area, we are consistently hearing from our residents calling for more services and for capital improvements,” he said. “We must invest in our infrastructure, but we must also invest in our curb appeal.”

He specified that the city is looking at various capital improvement projects, including library upgrades, signage, local art and referred to the upcoming ice-skating loop at Jeanne M. Stine Community Park. He also said that there is significant discussion about possible changes to the aging Troy Family Aquatic Center or perhaps using the property for other community uses.

He also discussed the trend of converting unused office space into residential space in the city. He said this was one of many reasons the city is planning a major revamp of the Big Beaver corridor in Troy.

“What will our downtown area look like if it is populated after only ever consisting of daytime office traffic? What do we need to add? What do we need to change?” Baker said. “The DDA is about to award the first contract for the start of work along Big Beaver. This will focus on (landscaping) around the diverging diamond interchange at the interchange of Big Beaver and I-75.”

He said the need to maintain quality of life resources is also an ongoing focus for Troy officials, specifically saying that complaints about a lack of senior citizen-oriented activities will be addressed.

“We continue to make headway on our parks and our trails, but there is definitely some concern I am hearing about our recreation programs; not for all members of our community, but certainly for residents over a certain age,” said Baker. “So, tonight I am happy to announce the creation of my own Mayor’s Advisory Council for Troy Seniors. It will be an informal group that will give us the flexibility we need to better solve these issues and help our seniors.”

Among his biggest announcements of the evening was the announcement of the Troy Chamber of Commerce moving its headquarters to the campus of Walsh College.

“Never has a chamber of commerce had its headquarters in a major institution of higher education,” Baker said. “This is a one-of-a-kind collaboration with the chamber and Walsh. … Together they will provide world class education and new opportunities for growth in our business community.”

Walsh College CEO Suzy Siegle said she was excited about the announcement and was enthusiastic about Baker’s presentation.

“Mayor Ethan Baker did a great job,” she remarked. “He spoke of optimism, of the relational nature he has with the city. We are so excited about the partnership with the Troy Chamber. This was a great event.”

Troy Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Tara Tomcsik-Husak also voiced her support for both the new collaboration and the state of Troy as a whole.

“I’ve always been a big fan of Mayor Ethan Baker. We work together consistently. I think the reality of it is that Troy is taking the right strides to move forward. We’re seeing success for the residents and making sure we’re keeping a great place for them to come out,” said Tomcik-Husak. “More importantly, I think the success of our business is growing. The partnerships that are happening are so important, most notably our new partnership with Walsh College.”

City Council member Theresa Brooks weighed in following the address, saying that it highlighted the challenges the city has overcome and the promise she sees in the near future.

“I thought the State of the City was wonderful. Mayor Ethen Baker stated everything perfectly: There are a lot of things we are looking forward to in the city and some challenges we have faced, but our future is optimistic,” said Brooks. “I think the highlights of the speech included a couple of things. We’re looking forward to the ice-skating amenities at Jeanne Stine Memorial Park. We’re going to be refreshing our downtown area and the main corridor, which is what a lot of people will see when they come into the city. … We want to make our downtown a gathering space and let people know we are a welcoming community with a great mix of residential and business and commercial properties here.”