April Martinez Mayor's Message
Apr 04, 2017 08:10AM
● By Rob Schroder
Rob Schroder, Mayor of Martinez
State of the City
On February 14, I delivered my 15th State of the City at a breakfast sponsored by the Martinez Chamber of Commerce and hosted by Creekside Church. At the suggestion of Executive Director of the Chamber Julie Johnston, City Manager Brad Kilger, Chief of Police Manjit Sappal, and I delivered the annual message. We followed a talk by Political Editor Dan Borenstein, who gave us an update on the current status of the Public Employees Retirement System (PERS) debt and more specific information about where Martinez sits in relationship to other cities in California.
In my opinion, it was the best State of the City event in my tenure on the city council. It was informative, inspiring, and entertaining. Everyone I spoke with left with a feeling of excitement about the direction we are going and the future of Martinez. So, in my contribution this month, I want to cover some of the highlights of this year’s State of the City message.
The financial picture for the city is again healthy, ending the 2016 fiscal year with a surplus of $2.7 million, with a general fund of $22.9 million. Our current unrestricted fund balance (rainy day fund) is at $7.435 million. Because of our conservative budgeting, this reserve has steadily grown from the previous balance in 2012 of $3.3 million. Other reserve funds in the amount of $5.3 million are earmarked for economic uncertainty, catastrophic events, infrastructure, and pension and retiree healthcare obligations.
Our long-term financial projections show that we will continue to stay in the black but will have to use small amounts of the “rainy day fund,” assuming no enhancements to our revenue stream.
Recently completed capital projects include the new Alhambra Creek Bridge at Berrellesa Street. This bridge creates a much-needed second access to the Martinez waterfront, recreational facilities, and future landside development, soon to be planned.
The large surface parking lot bounded by Ferry Street, Marina Vista, and Escobar Street has been improved with new pavement surfaces, landscaping, lighting, and a metering station. Although this lot has been recently improved, it has enormous potential for a future mixed-use project that could include commercial/retail, parking, and housing.
The Hidden Lakes turf soccer field, funded by Measure H, was completed in October. This was a $1.8 million project that replaced the natural turf field with artificial turf suitable for multiple uses. In conjunction with the field being replaced, the track and walkways around the field were renovated and brought up to current ADA standards.
Streets and Roads
Although there is much work to be done to rehabilitate our streets and roads, we did complete many important improvements. Paving projects have been completed in Virginia Hills, Elderwood Glen, Mountain View, and Rolling Hills areas. Crews completed 178,000 sq. ft. of pavement dig-out and repairs and used 280,000 yards of rubberized chip and slurry seal. Two additional sorely needed projects are the full dig-out and repaving of Center Avenue over Highway 4 and Morello Avenue under Highway 4. That work will commence once the winter rains subside.
A big win for Martinez in 2016 was the successful passage of Measure D. This measure, which was passed by the voters with a 72% yes vote, will provide over $2.1 million of additional revenue to the city to be used only for the improvement and maintenance of our roads and streets, tripling our current paving budget. Effective April 1, the sales tax in Martinez will increase by 0.05% and will automatically sunset in 15 years. The projects will be chosen through a combination of engineering analysis, MTC road surveys, and public input. Each year, the Infrastructure & Franchise subcommittee of the city council will make recommendations to the full city council when the annual capital projects program is considered and adopted.
New County Government Center
Martinez has been the host to county government since California became a state. We will continue to hold that title, with the unanimous decision of the board of supervisors, to build a new county government center in downtown. A new four-story administration building will be constructed just north of the existing 12-story building, which will be torn down and replaced with a two-story parking garage. The old historic granite jail will be given a two-year “stay of execution,” and the concrete jail annex, built in the 1940s, will be removed. This $48 million project creates all types of opportunities for the development and improvement of downtown Martinez.