Mayor Dawn Haggerty provided the following New Year message.
It’s “New Year’s Resolution” time – a time for personal reflection of our past year and actions and what we can do to make it a better future for ourselves and others. As Mayor for this coming year, I particularly will be focusing on how the City Council can make the future better for our citizens.
A prime concern is to get Station 60 manned with a paramedic. This has been and will be our number one priority, and to make it happen as soon as possible.
When I joined the City Council, my personal goal was to improve our police coverage. After much research, I realized the City’s major problem was the current fire contract. Clearly we couldn’t afford to continue with either the fire or police contracts as they accelerate each year to the point we can no longer sustain the cost.
The Utility User Tax is a short term solution to the problem and it has been a God send as it helped the City to get back into the black and stop having to withdraw funds from dangerously low reserves.
At that point, without the tax, the City would have been forced to take action to either disincorporate (the only real sensible action that could be taken) or declare bankruptcy (a short term solution that would not have been in the City’s best interest).
With disincorporation, it was likely Station 60 would remain closed and there would be no opportunity to improve public safety from our current situation.
We managed to convince Riverside County Cal Fire, through several actions, to reduce the cost of their one year contract while we figured out what options we had. That has saved the City a significant amount of money.
The path we are currently pursuing should continue to reduce the cost of fire protection. Meanwhile, we are hoping to get Station 60 open and manned with a paramedic within a few months.
We are also working toward solutions to our costly police contract and hope to have resolutions in this coming year which will increase coverage and reduce, or at least limit, costs for the future.
The protection of our citizens is my first concern. The second is to find ways to reduce crime and develop programs which will help our youth to have someplace to go after school where they can be involved in youth activities or have a place with computers where they can do homework.
Murrieta has a very successful program that I hope we can duplicate and accomplish by working with the Property Owners Association.
Legalizing marijuana has been, and will continue to be, a challenge for the Council. Statistics prove that there is an increase in home fires and explosions with “home growing” and an increase in exposure resulting in overdose by under age children.
States that have legalized this drug with the expectation of a huge increase in tax revenue are now faced with increased problems which are consuming the “profit” they thought they would have. In fact, statistics show it is costing them more in social protection expenditures than the expected profit. Some have openly made statements of regret for passing the legalization. This will indeed be a challenge.
I’m convinced our current Council will be a cohesive one, working to resolve the challenges of the coming year.
I pray for a safe and prosperous year for all.