The city has received more building permits in the first five months of 2013 than it received in the past two years combined, according to Mayor Herb Adams.

The new permits are primarily residential from three existing subdivisions — Eagles View on North Thornton Road, Villages at Westlake on Highway N and Heritage Farm on Highway N.

Adams said the rise in new home construction reinforces his belief that the overall economy is improving.

“I think we’re going to see continued growth in the economy at the local, state and federal level through the end of this year and into next year,” he said.

The apparent change in the economy is having an effect on how the city spends.

The city recently benefited from a $100,000 credit left over from the original developer of Eagles View Subdivision and now plans to spend the funds on street improvements.

“This is in addition to the list of resurfacing projects the street department recently announced,” Adams said. “Those will be paid for out of the street department’s ordinance maintenance budget. These will be new projects.

“For the past three years I’ve been in a saving mode, working to build up reserves and avoid new expenditures,” he said. “But now I’m in an investment mode.”

As an example, Adams noted the city recently approved spending $10,000 from the Tourism Reserve fund to secure a contract for a rodeo to be held in Liberty Field in October.

“We’ll make this investment in the rodeo and I feel confident that we’ll get a return on our investment with increased business from the rodeo patrons,” he said.

Another example in changes in spending practices will be seen in the next budget, Adams said. He plans to create a line item for improvements in each of the city’s three wards and place the responsibility on the two aldermen in each ward to identify projects that would benefit their wards.

“As things look and funds are available, we need to spend to improve our community,” Adams said.