Former Mayor Tim Brown provided a State of the City Address at the last City Council meeting of the year on Wednesday, December 14.
Normally a State of the City address would highlight past year accomplishments. This year will be different. I want to begin with two big announcements.
Not only is the City in the black with a balanced budget, we exceeded our financial goals and we put a million dollars in the bank.
This leads to the second announcement. With the savings we generated this year and new agreements with county supervisors, we are positioned to begin the process of reopening Station 60 with paramedics.
A big part of the credit goes to new City Manager Aaron Palmer. His understanding of fire service issues was invaluable. I would also like to thank Dawn Haggerty and Vicki Warren for their work on the Fire Committee. Without their analysis we would not have achieved these results.
Four years ago I did not imagine leaving office with these positive announcements. I envisioned that I might possibly be on Canyon Lake’s last Council. With pension problems and deficits in Sacramento running unchecked, I did not see how our City could survive.
Those problems remain, but a little common sense has prevailed amongst County supervisors, Sacramento is at least acknowledging the issues facing cities and the people of this town decided we were “too tough to die” ( I just got back from a vacation to Tombstone Arizona and couldn’t resist borrowing the catch phrase.)
In the process of facing potential bankruptcy we had to face some tough facts. We had to examine many things. What are the advantages and disadvantages of remaining a city? How much are we willing to pay to maintain cityhood benefits? What are we willing to sacrifice for the sake of cityhood?
Examining these challenges now was a good thing because these musings have given us a foothold for the future. City financial problems are not going away. We cannot ignore trillion dollar unfunded pension liabilities. We cannot ignore the possibility of another retraction of real estate prices.
All in all, our City is only emerging from crisis mode and we must remain vigilant. We must continue to closely monitor spending and force county supervisors and Sacramento legislators to keep our City problems in mind.
We should be fine through 2020 when the UUT will sunset, but the City will probably not be able to survive without a tax extension.
To protect voter good will we have to PROVE that cityhood is a benefit to Canyon Lake residents. We will have to PROVE to Canyon Lake voters that we protect their financial interests. We will have to PROVE to voters that we are providing the best services possible within our budget constraints. We will have to PROVE to Canyon Lake residents that we “have their backs” and the City deserves another chance to survive.
There are other 2016 accomplishments to report.
We hired Aaron Palmer as our new City Manager, who has done an excellent job in many ways. His knowledge of fire affairs is invaluable. Aaron hired Michael Borja as our new administrative services manager and he is doing a great job getting us organized.
We contracted with Charles Abbot and Associates to do building inspection, planning, and engineering. They have reduced permitting delays, facilitated City response to business issues and are active participants in Administration and Finance meetings.
We selected new monuments to be placed on Railroad Canyon Rd. sometime in January.
We cleaned up UUT payment issues.
We updated numerous laws and policies related to marijuana and animal control.
We also started video recording all major committee meetings as well as council meetings which reduced the need for detailed minutes, resulting in cost savings for the City.
All in all, it was a very good year for the City of Canyon Lake.”