Rochester Hills Mayor Bryan Barnett delivered his 2023 State of the City address, called “The Greatest Show,” Aug. 31 at Oakland University.

Rochester Hills Mayor Bryan Barnett delivered his 2023 State of the City address, called “The Greatest Show,” Aug. 31 at Oakland University.

Photo provided by the city of Rochester Hills

Mayor Barnett’s ‘The Greatest Show’ highlights city’s success

By: Mary Beth Almond | Rochester Post | Published September 20, 2023


ROCHESTER HILLS — With singers, dancers, fire breathers, and even a 15-foot python in tow, Rochester Hills Mayor Bryan Barnett delivered his 2023 State of the City address to a packed crowd at Oakland University Aug. 31.

“We love to take risks, to push the preconceived limit of what people believe local government can look like, and do it with an incredibly talented and captivating team,” Barnett said. “We want our audience coming back for more.”

Inspired by the movie, “The Greatest Showman,” this year’s State of the City highlighted some of the city’s most recent success stories.

Barnett shared that the city of Rochester Hills has retained its title from the FBI as the safest city in the state among cities of its size, a recognition it has held for the past seven years. Rochester Hills, he noted, was also recognized as one of the safest cities in the nation, ranking second among cities its size, according to the website NeighborhoodScout.

Another point of pride for city officials is that Rochester Hills has a higher service satisfaction than Disney Parks & Resorts and other top businesses, according to a recent survey by Problosky Research.

Approximately 400 Rochester Hills voters responded to an April community survey to rate the quality of life and their satisfaction with community amenities and local government, with approximately 94% of respondents rating the overall quality of life in Rochester Hills as good or excellent, and 94% saying they are satisfied with the services the city provides. The city, Barnett noted, outperformed the service satisfaction of Disney Parks with an 89% rating; Nordstrom with an 87% rating; and Costco and Amazon with an 86% rating; according to data from Newsweek and a Statista’s Best Customer Service report.

“We like to compare ourselves to Amazon, Nordstrom, Costco and Disney .. and Rochester Hills has a better customer service score than some of the best companies on the planet — simply outstanding,” Barnett said.

The city hasn’t raised its millage rate since 2015, and this year, Barnett announced that he is proposing to lower the millage rate from 10.5510 to 10.4573 mills.

“The millage rate in Rochester Hills is actually going down this year, giving us the second lowest mileage rate in all of Oakland County,” he shared.

With a AAA bond rating, Barnett said, Rochester Hills remains in a strong financial position, allowing the city to make investments in public safety, infrastructure and parks, and enhancements in residents’ overall quality of life.

“We’re well-positioned financially for the future — even a future that may include a slight downturn,” he added.

Over the past five years alone, Rochester Hills has put over $25 million into improving the condition of neighborhood roads.

“One of the most transformational projects coming this year is on Drexelgate Road,” he said. “This is our first road diet project, where we are taking the existing width of the road and skinnying it down to add a pathway along the side. We do all the work inside the right of way, which minimizes the disruption to the folks living alongside the road. The narrowed road should reduce speed limits in that area, and that pathway is probably one of the most needed pathways in the entire city.”

Parks and greenspace are also important to the city.

In 2022, Rochester Hills parks and trails had more than 1.3 million visitors, according to Barnett, who noted that is more than the combined attendance of the Detroit Lions and Red Wings last year.

“This year, we are already over 900,000 guests, with projections suggesting we may set a new record and reach 1.4 million visits,” he said.

The city recently revitalized many of the community’s outdoor spaces, including the introduction of four new pickleball courts at Avondale Park, a brand-new cricket pitch at Bloomer, and 1,200 free trees planted by residents through the Community Canopy program.

“Next year, Spencer Park — the park with our lake — will see the majority of our investments, repaving the parking lot, improving the beach experience and investing in some cool, new water-themed adventures for our guests,” he said.

Over the past decade, Rochester Hills has also acquired and permanently preserved over 73 acres of land for future generations to enjoy. Barnett announced the successful negotiation of a donation encompassing nearly 12 acres of land, with frontage on Rochester Road, added to the city’s holdings and permanently protected from private development.

“Our commitment to the environment has been exceptional, and we encourage other cities to follow our green lead,” he said.

The city has “never been content with the ordinary,” according to Barnett.

“We’ve empowered our team to think outside the box and embrace bold ideas, and that spirit of innovation has rewarded us over and over again. Whether it’s embracing new technologies or rethinking the way we approach challenges, every step we take is guided by one singular mission: to be the preeminent place to live, work and raise a family,” he said. “We will continue to lead, continue to learn, and continue to love. We will be innovative and creative, because we have no choice; it’s in our DNA, and it’s who we are. We are great because of our people — and friends, we aren’t finished yet.”

Following the performance, Rochester Hills resident Louis Carrio had a smile on his face. He attended the State of the City address for the first time this year.

“I feel exceptionally proud of the city and the job that the mayor and the City Council have done. I’m just blown away,” he said. “I really appreciate the fact that the city took a lot of interesting information and made it extraordinarily interesting. It was a well-done performance, and I applaud all of those people who have been involved in putting that together.”

Karen Michalik, of Rochester Hills — also a first-time attendee — said she enjoyed Barnett’s performance and loved hearing about the safety of the city.

“It makes you very proud to live here,” she said.

Sheila Selke, of Rochester Hills, has been to many of Barnett’s State of the City addresses, and said she always looks forward to them.

“They are always good, but this was over-the-top wonderful, with all the local people performing, like Deborah’s Stage Door,” she said.

The full 2023 State of the City Address can be viewed anytime on the city’s YouTube channel at