CHESAPEAKE, Va. - Chesapeake Mayor Rick West didn't shy away from addressing hot-button issues during his annual State of the City address on Thursday.
City Manager Chris Price joined West on stage during the speech in front of the businesses community in the Hampton Roads Chamber.
Price and West explained why the city council decided to end the current program of the city paying to pick up recycling at people's curbs.
"At the end of the day, it was a very expensive program that didn't have good results," Price said.
Unlike other Hampton roads cities, Chesapeake doesn't charge for trash and recycling services and costs were rising. In the future, there will be drop-off locations for recycling or people can have their recycling done through private companies.
"While I did not support ending our contract, I think it was not a bad idea. This gives us an opportunity to look to the private sector to see if we can do it more efficiently and affordably," West told News 3 after the address.
Price explained the city needed to find funds to address employee retention in the public works department and among police officers. "Really it wasn't a decision. We had to be able to respond. The community would find it unacceptable to be unable to respond to emergency calls," Price said.
The Chesapeake Police Department still has 38 vacancies, which they want to fill, but that number is much lower than neighboring city Norfolk. News 3 asked West if retention issues are getting better. "Absolutely, it's getting better," he responded. "As we provided the pay incentive plan, we have more people staying."
As the city addresses those issues, it continues to grow. Chesapeake is now the second most populated city in Virginia, only behind Virginia Beach. "Chesapeake is a city of growth. Since 1963, we have not had a year where we did not grow."
During the address, West also announced a grain company called Perdue AgriBusiness will invest nearly $60 million dollars to expand its services in the city. The expansion doesn't necessarily mean job creation, but is a sizable investment in the city. "It helps our farmers and it helps our economy, so it's a big thing," he said.