WASHINGTON (CBSDC) — D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray said the city was strong and growing stronger in his State of the District address Tuesday night.

Gray touted the city’s economic strength as one of the strings of any city in the country. The district recently announced a $240 million surplus in the 2011 budget.

The mayor went on to say the city was no longer spending from their critical reserve fund after spending $700 million from it in the past four years.

In addition, Gray said 9,500 jobs last year and projected an additional 45,000 jobs would be added by 2015.

At a time when the city is enjoying an economic turnaround, Gray stressed there was still work to be done and helping the unemployed and hungry remains a priority. The current unemployment rate in the District is 10.4 percent.

Saying the district was the fastest growing “state” in the union, Gray said 17,000 people moved into the city in the past 16 months, bringing the population to 618,000. The number is expected to swell to 700,000 by 2025.

The city is also much safer than it has been in recent years. In 2011, D.C. had its lowest homicide total in nearly 50 years.

“Although last years 108 murders were still 108 too many, this was 18 percent lower than the year before,” said Gray.

He boasted the Metropolitan Police Department posted a 95 percent homicide closure rate. The national average is 56 percent.

Contrarily, thefts and, in a few neighborhoods, robberies are on the rise. The mayor said many of the thefts were of smart phones and police have been working with the service carriers and FCC to render the stolen devices useless.

Gray said every crime is treated as a serious crime. As such, officials are hoping to hire an additional 300 officers by the end of the year.

“We will not rest until every neighborhood is safe,” Gray said. “No resident, regardless of ward or neighborhood, should live in fear. Crime, whether it’s petty theft or armed robbery, will not be tolerated in our city, period. No excuses.”


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