As a doctor, my responsibility is to diagnose the cause of illnesses so that the patient will receive the warmest care. As mayor, I see citizens as my family. I have to find and solve problems in the city and improve the overall of Tainan, bring us together and make all of us proud of our city.
I thank all my colleagues for their support and dedication to this city for the seven years I have been mayor. We have made considerable and honorable achievements together. I hope you will continue in this spirit and keep working hard for Tainan City as always.
After the merger of Tainan County and Tainan City to become a new special municipality in 2010, the beginning of my term, the municipality’s funding did not increase because the Act Governing the Allocation of Government Revenues and Expenditures had not been passed. Our budget from the central government was the lowest among the six special municipalities. Moreover, we had also hit the debt ceiling. Our annual revenues were insufficient and we faced huge liabilities. Under such circumstances, it was very difficult to plan the city’s general budget every year.
Working with the City Council, my colleagues drew up a tight budget for the years up to end of 2017. By the end of 2017, we will have repaid NT$15.7 billion of debt, leaving us with a debt of only NT$85 billion. We not only reduced our liabilities, but also left some room for borrowing. The budget for 2018 is a hard-earned achievement. It stands at NT$84,877,087,000, roughly the same as our yearly revenues. We balanced the budget. We need not borrow any money. We delivered on our promise to the citizens of our city.
Before the merger of Tainan City and Tainan County, the total area of our new city was 8,963 hectares. After the last few years of development and construction, our land has grown to 9,307 hectares. Land value has grown from NT$896.3 billion to NT$1.209 trillion, an increase of NT$348 billion.
Tainan City had the most extensive flood-prone areas of Taiwan before the merger of the city and the county. Tainan City had completed over one quarter of flood management and prevention with a budget of roughly NT$13 billion. If we were to complete the plans, we needed a total of NT$65 billion. Tainan still had many areas in need. Therefore, we pushed for assistance from the central government, took into account local topographical considerations and prioritized emergency projects. Flood management and prevention has now been completed and meets flood protection standards of 10 years.
These water control projects have been tested by torrential rains and we have seen their effectiveness. Projects to prevent external flooding have been completed in areas including the Sanye River, Erren Creek, the Benyuanliao and Haiweiliao drainage in Annan District, and Siwei, Anding, Guizigang, Houzhen, Siaciedong and Jingliao drainage among others. As long as rain accumulation remains under 250mm in a 24-hour period, our flood management efforts will keep us safe. In recent years, floods have radically reduced in areas most prone to flooding. We have kept our promise to our citizens.
In order to give our citizens a safe way to get home, we have completed our transportation network. We asked for help from the central government for the construction of the Zengwen River Bridge, linked the Tainan area highways, built the three north-south and three east-west bypasses and created a transportation network in which all of Tainan City can be reached within an hour. We also succeeded in completing the Yongkang Highway 1 interchange roads project, connecting the Annan District and Yongkang District road system, opening up the bottlenecks around those systems and linking them to National Highway 8.
Greater Tainan is popular with tourists. For the last few years, we made good use of our tourism resources and turned Tainan into a tourist paradise. According to the Ministry of Transportation and Communications’ Tourism Bureau, visitors to our 35 most popular spots increased by over 20% in the period of July to November 2016 compared to the same period the previous year. It shows clearly that the Tainan tourism industry has come back from the damage caused by the dengue fever epidemic of 2015 and the earthquake of February 6, 2016.
In addition to this, we have continued to build and develop the infrastructure fitting for a cultural capital. Construction has begun or been completed on several large-scale initiatives including the Tainan City Fine Arts Museum, a new flagship public library, the five major culture parks and Pingshi Park. The Jhusi River has been re-engineered. The construction projects of the Zhengwen Bridge, the Shalun Green Energy Science Park, the International Film and Television Studio, the Tainan Convention and Exhibition Center, the Academia Sinica Southern Branch, the underground railway, and the Tainan Asia-Pacific Baseball Stadium and Training Centers have all begun according to schedule. These projects will contribute to the expectations fitting of a cultural capital.
As I write this, I am filled with the memories of our hard work over the years. In the midst of our balancing the budget, the work on flood prevention, the discussions on how to safeguard our cultural assets, our work on the public bus lines, the rescue and reconstruction meetings after the earthquake, efforts to make our government clean and honest, protecting stray dogs, promoting and cheering for the WBSC U-12 Baseball World Cup, debating about city blueprints and sowing the seeds of the Phoenix tree (our city flower), I have one thought: if it wasn’t for you, we would never have done it all. The honor belongs to you.
Yesterday I received a letter from a citizen of Tainan who moved abroad long ago. She told me that the gardeners in the Tainan City Park reminded her to be careful because it had just rained and the park paths might be slippery. A taxi driver proudly introduced the changes in the city to her. This is our Tainan: warm, friendly, sincere and hospitable.
As a public servant, there is no consideration of sacrifice or self-adulation. I chose to do this. It does not matter what position I serve in. I will always do it for our Taiwan.
This is not goodbye. We will have many chances to continue our work together in the future.
We will meet again on our quest for reform.
Farewell, my dear companions.
Mayor William Lai
September 5, 2017