MOUNT VERNON - Mount Vernon Mayor Ernie Davis delivered his annual State of the City address last night.

Despite tough financial times, the mayor says the city is moving forward with a number of initiatives to make it a better place to live and work. "Despite the problems of [the] city's searching for solutions, I still believe that our best days are ahead," says Davis.

Davis says he is optimistic, especially considering there has been a massive drop in crime. He points to an 80 percent drop in homicides since 2012, which he credits to new leadership at the police department. "The new leadership was necessary to send criminals in our community packing."

Davis also took time to remember the victims of a number of recent deadly fires but made no mention of increasing manpower at the fire department.

A number of construction projects will be underway this year, including memorial field, which will include a regulation-size track-and-field area, as well as a skateboard park. The mayor says, at the same time, they are also making the city more attractive to businesses, including driving on its local streets.

The mayor says he knows his recent 7.7 percent tax increase is tough on residents but necessary to keep the city operating.