Novi holds first State of the City address since pandemic

By: Charity Meier | Novi Note | Published March 7, 2023

 Novi Mayor Bob Gatt delivers the first State of the City address in four years March 2 at the Suburban Collection Showplace.

Novi Mayor Bob Gatt delivers the first State of the City address in four years March 2 at the Suburban Collection Showplace.

Photo by Charity Meier

 The audience at Suburban Collection Showplace listens as Gatt speaks about many aspects of the city. The theme of his speech was “Novi is simply the best.”

The audience at Suburban Collection Showplace listens as Gatt speaks about many aspects of the city. The theme of his speech was “Novi is simply the best.”

Photo by Charity Meier


NOVI — “Novi is simply the best,” declared Mayor Bob Gatt over a half gallon of Guernsey ice cream in a video skit shown at the Suburban Collection Showplace during the annual State of the City address. The statement became the theme for the address.

This was the first State of the City address held since 2019.

“I can’t believe it’s been four years without a State of the City,” said longtime resident and City Councilman Hugh Crawford.

The address showcased how the city has managed over the last three years and throughout the pandemic.

“It took us through some challenging times as a community and as individuals,” said Gatt. “During the height of the crisis, every aspect of our lives was affected. Health, finances, business, social interaction, education, jobs, family, even the way we communicated. In those most difficult times, instead of allowing instability, working together, we achieved a seamless transition at City Hall and continued to deliver consistent, quality services our Novi residents and business deserve. It gives me great confidence that as we face future challenges, that working together we will continue to thrive. Again, you are simply the best.”

The city is in “excellent financial condition,” despite challenges faced from inflation, Gatt said.

“The city’s budget is not immune to inflation either, and our costs to provide quality services have increased,” said Gatt. “That being said, the city of Novi continues to be in excellent financial condition, boasting the highest bond rating of AAA. The AAA rating is only given to those communities with outstanding financial condition now and the same forecast into the foreseeable future.”

The city’s general fund balance has increased from $13.7 million in 2021 to almost $16.4 million in 2022. The general fund is “largely driven” by property values and state-shared revenue, which account for more than 75% of it. Property taxes are projected to increase this year by $941,000, or 3.6%. State-shared revenues are expected to increase by 6%, or $362,000, from fiscal year 2022 to fiscal year 2023.

Novi was one of the fastest-growing cities in Oakland County between 2010 and 2020, the mayor said. The population increased, according to the 2020 census, by 20%, to 66,243 people. Gatt said the increase enhances the city’s fiscal health.

“This growth occurs because of our fiscal health and other amazing attributes,” said Gatt.

“The city remains committed to making improvements in its current infrastructure and bringing new assets to its residents,” he said.

The city’s fiscal year 2023 capital improvement plan includes $26.2 million in investments. This includes: $9.9 million in roads, $400,000 in sidewalks and pathways, $6.4 million for storm sewer and water distribution, $2.1 million for a splash pad at Boscoe Fields, and $3.8 million for building property improvements, equipment and technology.

“While the economy has rebounded well over the last couple years and we depend on that continued strength to fund the critical services we provide to the community, we will proceed prudently and cautiously, keeping in mind the overall delicate financial environment,” said Gatt. “The city’s financial position is the envy of many others. It is favorable and stable, and unlike many other jurisdictions, our general fund reserve is healthy. Simply the best.”

Businesses have continued to flock to and invest in the city. According to Gatt, just under $250 million has been invested in the city over the last three years. This includes investments from Our Next Energy, Cleveland Cliffs, Lineage Logistics, Magna EV and many more.

“It is also businesses such as these which led Entrepreneur magazine to designate Novi as the No. 2 innovative city in the United States for 2020. That’s the whole country,” said Gatt. “As vibrant as our large business base is, and it is, we are equally balanced by amazing smaller businesses who choose to make Novi their home.”

New businesses include Sweetwater’s Coffee & Tea; Me, My Selfie and I Selfie Studio; Crumbl Cookies; Batteries Plus Bulbs; along with many others.  Gatt gave mention to the recent opening of Ford’s Garage Feb. 27 and its owners, Billy and Amy Downs, who are longtime Novi residents.

“We wish them all, and all of the businesses in our city, success, because when they succeed, we succeed,” said Gatt.

Gatt attributed low property tax rates and a fiscally sound government, and efficient services to the city being a community of choice for businesses and industry. Gatt said that two housing developments are being planned near Grand River Avenue and Novi Road, along with Sakura Novi, which is expected to break ground this year.

Not only is the city financially sound, but safe as well, according to Gatt. He said the city was ranked the No. 5 safest city on in 2019. The city has seen a decrease in crime since then. Gatt said that domestic assault crimes are down by 10%, criminal sexual assault crimes are down by 45% and there has been a 25% decline in burglaries.

“Novi’s violent crime rate is only 0.08%, far below the national average,” said Gatt. “The bottom line is our neighborhoods are safe and getting safer.”

The city’s Police Department has made strides in enhancing its use of modern technology.

The Novi Police Department purchased its first drones in 2021 and has since trained 14 operators. According to Gatt, the drones have proven to be an effective tool for the city’s police operations. The department also recently purchased body cameras that are expected to arrive in six months.

The mayor gave a nod to the school systems within the district. He said that the city offers the No. 1 school district in the state, and some residents attend the second-best school district in the state in Northville, and he mentioned the prestigious Catholic Central High School.

“I tell you the state of our city is strong, it’s vibrant, dynamic, energized and simply the best,” said Gatt.