Mayor Moran Presents State of the City

Sierra Madre School 3rd graders provided musical entertainment, click to enlarge

Posted 2/22/13 – The City hosted its 3rd Annual State of the City event on Tuesday in the Sierra Madre Room at the Rec Center.  Mayor Pro Tem Nancy Walsh emceed the evening, introducing 3rd graders from Sierra Madre School who performed several songs from their recent spotlight assembly led by former principal Gayle Bluemel and their teachers, Girl Scout Troops 8471 and 13,731 from St. Rita, who presented colors as they have every year since the City first started doing the State of the City event, and then Mayor Josh Moran.

Mayor Moran began by noting that like former Mayors Mosca and Buchanan before him at the previous SOTC events, he was able to report that the City is still operating on a balanced budget, thanks in part to a staff reorganization that is projected to save the City a quarter of a million dollars annually, thanks to City staff not receiving their Cost of Living Adjustment increases for the third year in a row, thanks to the PD and the City reaching an agreement that did not call for raises for personnel, and thanks to a lot of cuts in every department.  And unfortunately, the future looks like more of the same.

Noting that General Fund revenue, which pays for things like first responders, Library and Recreation services, streets and sidewalks, and administrative costs amounted to $8,263,000, the Mayor added that the bulk of the funding for that (53%) comes from property taxes 31% comes from the Utility User Tax (UUT), and the remainder from sales, tax, franchise fees, business licenses and other fees.  Unfortunately, only 22 cents on the dollar comes back to the City from the property taxes Sierra Madreans pay, and while trend of costs since the recession has been an annual 2-5% year over year increase in cost, property taxes over the last five years have increased only 3% total.  According to the figures cited by the City, this negative ratio of revenue to expenses projects to a $300,000 shortfall for FY 2013-2014, and $400,000 shortfall for FY 2014-2015.  If the UUT sunsets, which it will unless it is put back on the ballot and voters choose to extend it, the projections show a $1.1 million deficit in FY 2015-2016 and $1.7 million shortfall in FY 2016-2017.

On the plus side, at the beginning of this year’s budget cycle, the City did still have $4,860,000 in reserves, and the projections show that at the end of this year’s budget cycle on June 30th, there will be a $78,000 surplus.

Mayor Moran also briefly discussed the Water Fund, noting that “we have a huge hole literally and figuratively, in the water department.  Right now we’re operating at a deficit to the tune of about a half a million dollars.”  He said that the City has a rate study underway to look at the cost of covering not only the expense of pumping and delivering the water, but also the capital expenses involved with the water dept., which he said pumped nearly a billion gallons of water last year.

The Mayor pointed out that cuts have been so extensive that “we are at a point where expenditure reductions truly equal a reduction in services.”

But a good part of the evening was spent celebrating the accomplishments of the City.  He noted that the Library has more registered borrowers than there are people in the City, with more than 11,000.  Community Services had more than 6,000 participants at the 4th of July festivities, and served more than 9,000 meals to seniors.  Public Works repaired more than 12,000 sq. feet of sidewalks, curbs and gutters, cleaned more than 159,000 feet of sewer lines, replaced more than 2,000 sq. ft. of asphalt, and pumped 950,000 gallons of water.  The Police Department responded to 14,000 calls for service and made more than 400 arrests, and while burglaries had increased, there were zero robberies.  The Fire Dept. made more than 1900 inspections, and the FD and the paramedics responded to nearly 900 calls, nearly 80% of which were medical calls.  He recognized the General Plan Update Steering Committee for their hard work and being close to completing the General Plan update.  The City’s technology has been updated, and now people can pay for their water bills and parking citations online, they can purchase overnight parking passes online, or download agenda packets for the City Council meetings.  Grants have been received to help pay for not only replacement of trees destroyed in the 2011 windstorm, but also to create a Tree Master Plan.

Also listed as accomplishments were keeping the pool open year round through a public/private partnership with Waterworks, the new Police MOU, the completion of the remodeled Children’s room in the Library, updating the City Hall and PD entries to be ADA compliant and the resurfacing of several streets in town, with more to come.  He said we can anticipate replenishment of the East Raymond Basin water supply, the rebuilding of well 3 and the replacement of the Chlorine Analyzer, as well as the connection to the Metropolitan Water District pipeline for emergency use.    The paramedics will be replacing the City’s cardiac defibrillators to help keep residents safe, businesses will soon be able to purchase or pay for their business licenses online, and Phase III street improvements.

He closed by saying that it’s been an honor to serve as Mayor for the last ten months, and adding that he looked forward to the upcoming discussions with City staff and the City Council to find the balance for our beloved City of Sierra Madre.

Food was provided by Bean Town and The Only Place in Town, and the event was sponsored (and thus no cost to the City) by Jan’s Towing; West Coast Arborists; San Gabriel Valley Municipal Water District; Southern California Edison; Leibert, Cassidy, Whitmore; and Athens Services.

Click on the video below the picture gallery to see the entire event presentation.

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