At the City Council meeting on Wednesday, December 1, listeners got good news about the “State of the City” as Mayor Jordan Ehrenkranz gave the following message:
I am proud to have served as Canyon Lake’s Mayor for 2015, which happens to be the City’s 25th anniversary year. Canyon Lake’s City Council and staff members have worked hard this year, and a lot of big things happened.
First and foremost in everyone’s mind for a majority of this year was the City’s dispute with the County for fire services, and the ensuing emergency declaration. We filed our Declaratory Relief action in July of this year, but I am proud to announce that due to the hard work and diligence of everyone involved, the legal dispute was settled in late September.
This brought an end to several years of dispute and has repaired the City’s relationship with the County. Moving forward it looks like we will continue to have a positive relationship. On that note, the City has also formed and appointed Council members to the Fire Department Start-up Committee and we are continuing to move forward with pursuing our own municipal fire department.
The next major change that the City had this year was the collection of the Utility Users Tax. Collection of the tax started in March and was in full swing by mid-calendar year. It was approved to help the City close its budget gap, and it has definitely done that.
The Utility User Tax is performing better than anticipated and should bring in approximately $950,000 per fiscal year. This is going to help the City get back on its feet and help provide funding for the initial start-up of a Fire Department when the time comes to that. This is a huge victory for the City, and it looks like the City may be operating in the black for the first time in a few years.
The City has continued to support its residents with Community Development Block Grant funding for repair of mobile homes for our residents in need.
This past month we also held the annual Turkey Drive for HOPE, and had a total of 87 turkeys donated. Our top donors this year were Coldwell Banker, the Canyon Lake Car Club and the 9ers Golf Club. Even though they didn’t make it to the Turkey Drive on that day, the POA will be donating 10 hams to HOPE, which is being matched by the POA’s legal counsel, Silldorf & Levine LLP, for a total of 20 hams donated to help our community through the holiday season.
We also had a wonderful Veterans Day event again this year, organized and put together by our Veterans Committee, Council Member Vicki Warren and Mayor Pro-Tem Tim Brown, along with a whole host of volunteers. I would like to personally thank our Veterans Committee and all of the volunteers who made the Veterans Day Ceremony as great as it was this year.
Earlier this year, the City Council held a strategic planning session and updated the City’s Mission Statement, Vision Statement, Key Imperatives and goals. Solving the City’s dispute over fire services was a major portion of that discussion, but it wasn’t the only topic.
Law enforcement services were looked into as part of those planning goals and there was a study on the cost of starting our own department. Despite the challenges revealed by that study, we will continue to look into how we can save money on our law enforcement costs once our Fire Department is settled.
We are also looking into our services for Building, Planning, Engineering and Public Works this year as part of the City Council’s strategic plan goals to see if there is a better way to serve the public. An RFP for those services was put out for the first time in 10 to 15 years.
In the theme of serving the public, City Hall began accepting credit card payments. It also revived its Facebook page so residents can easily access and share press releases, meeting information and other important announcements.
The City’s website was updated this year with the generous help of Mayor Pro-Tem Brown and resident Robert Reeves. They dedicated hours of hard work to getting a new website up and running, and our staff members are continuing to update the website and have started to post the recordings of all City Council and committee meetings on the website.
The City’s PEG channel also received an overhaul this year. Now there is content playing on the PEG channel to notify residents of POA and City news, as well as rerunning POA and City meetings for residents who were unable to attend them. Keep an eye out for a schedule being published in The Friday Flyer, the City’s website and the City’s Facebook page.
Also new this year, the City is participating in low-cost microchipping for pets, and free spay and neuter vouchers. This program is offered to our residents through Animal Friends of the Valleys.
Lastly, the shining star of our community is our lake. The water quality in the lake has improved tremendously through the alum treatment program. There were two treatments this year, which brought the current alum treatment program to a close. The treatments were so successful in improving water clarity that residents have reported seeing fish swimming near their docks for the first time in years. In fact, the treatments were successful enough that there is a plan to have them continue.
None of these accomplishments would have been possible without the hard work and dedication of our City Council and staff members. I would like to recognize each person individually for their contributions.
Council Member Dawn Haggerty was elected in last year’s election and serves on the City’s Public Safety Committee and Fire Department Start-up Committee. She also served on the ad hoc committee that looked into the Police Department cost study, and she represented the City at Riverside County Transportation Commission meetings.
Council Member Vicki Warren was also elected in last year’s election and serves on the City’s Water Committee and Veterans Committee, and she represented the City at Lake Elsinore San Jacinto Watersheds Authority and at the Southwest Communities Finance Authority Joint Powers Association for the animal shelter meetings.
Council Member John Zaitz was appointed in January of this year to fill the seat of Nancy Horton, who was elected to the Elsinore Valley Municipal Water District Board. He serves on the City’s Administration and Finance Committee and Planning Committee. He represented the City at Riverside Transit Agency and League of California Cities meetings.
Council Member Tim Brown served as the City’s Mayor Pro-Tem this past year, as well as serving on the City’s Administration and Finance Committee, Planning Committee and Veterans Committee. He also represented the City at Western Riverside County Regional Conservation Authority and Regional Task Force on Health meetings.
I have served as the City’s Mayor this past year, as well as serving on the City’s Public Safety Committee and Water Committee. I have also represented the City at Western Riverside Council of Governments, Southwest Cities Coalition, League of California Cities, Southern California Association of Governments, and South Coast Air Quality Management District meetings.
Our Interim City Manager Ariel Hall was appointed early this year, and she has been working full time in our office making sure that everything runs as smoothly as possible. Prior to her new appointment, she was working in City Hall as our Administrative Services Manager and City Clerk.
Replacing Ariel as the Admin Services Manager is Kirsten Rowe, who has hit the ground running when she got here and has been working diligently on our contracts, emergency management procedures and policies.
Courtney Shurtleff got a promotion this year to Deputy City Clerk and has been working hard on learning new tasks, including agenda packets for City Council and Committee meetings, minutes, business licenses, political filings, and will be learning how to conduct elections in the upcoming year.
The City’s newest hire has come in and is being great in the office. Ruby Jimenez is usually the first face you see when you come into City Hall, and she has been providing excellent customer service to our residents.
Our City’s Finance Department was contracted out to RAMS. Terry Shea has continued to be our accountant, and Michelle Gomez is in the office providing excellent service to any of our residents who need assistance.
David Alvarez is in City Hall on Wednesdays serving our residents’ needs for the Planning Department. He fits right in with our staff. Also in our planning department is Russell Brady, who works in the background for the City on many planning issues.
Our Building Department has seen an increase in activity with the increase in building, and is staffed by Building Official Richard Shields, Building Inspector Leonard Patzer and Permit Technician Sharon Barrett.
Our Special Enforcement Officers, Ivan Henery, Mike Feeney and Marianne Parker, have been working ensure that the BLM stays clean and safe for the enjoyment of our residents.
Our Code Enforcement Officer Jean Voshall has been working to make sure our neighborhoods stay maintained by citing for issues with abandoned vehicles and yard maintenance, among other things.
Nancy Carroll has continued to dedicate herself to assisting the City in planning for emergencies via the Canyon Lake Emergency Preparedness Committee, which held a drill, meetings and training this year.
Betsy Martyn, our City Attorney, has continued to represent the City.
I would like to also say a special thank you to our police department representatives from Riverside County Sheriff’s Department, Police Capt. Mike Judge and Lt. Earl Quinata.
Last but not least, I would like to recognize the Riverside County Fire Department, and especially, Fire Chief John Hawkins, Deputy Chief Steve Curley, Deputy Chief Glenn Patterson, Division Chief Geoff Pemberton and Battalion Chief Jorge Rodriguez.