Opinion

Tuesday, Jul 08 2014 01:23 PM

A Memo From the City Manager: City staff dedicating to improving city

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Tehachapi City Manager, Greg Garrett.

As I hope you've already heard, the Tehachapi City Council adopted another balanced budget on June 23. Our city staff members and I have worked diligently for the past five years, throughout the recession, to adopt balanced budgets while delivering high quality municipal services and while still building several new public projects. We've been able to do this by staying focused on our internal goals, which center on the simple idea that our role is to create and maintain a safe, sustainable, and attractive community.

At the public budget meeting on June 23, the city department heads and managers outlined their own departmental goals for the upcoming fiscal year with that same simple idea in mind. I'd like to share some of those with you.

A great community starts with great public infrastructure. Our public works staff is made up of dedicated individuals that are maintaining miles of roads, water pipes, and sewer pipes, as well as a wastewater treatment plant, storm water network, public buildings, signs, benches, and on and on.

To keep such a large maintenance effort organized, our public works team has begun using a computerized maintenance management system to better track work, asset condition, and expenses. In the coming year, we will further implement that system in an effort to reduce emergency work and spend more time proactively maintaining the critical systems that make up our community.

We are also building new public assets and infrastructure with the help of our dedicated engineering staff. Over the past several years we've constructed new roads, a new police headquarters, new sidewalks and landscaping, new wastewater treatment facilities, new water lines and more. Some of these are replacements of old infrastructure and some are new enhancements that elevate our quality of life. In the coming year, our engineering staff will manage the construction of 11 new projects valued at $6.7 million. These projects are being paid for with grants and with city funds -- not financing -- and will all be great improvements. Our goal is to deliver 100 percent of these projects on-time and on-budget, and if prior years are any indication, we will achieve that goal.

Many of these projects have stemmed from plans developed and implemented by our community development staff. One of the most critical plans they've developed in the past several years is our city General Plan. This plan outlines what we expect Tehachapi to look like over the next 25 years and was developed with a significant amount of public input.

In the coming year, the General Plan will be translated into zoning laws that regulate the type and quality of future development. Our community development staff will be working hard to complete that project, as well as overseeing the new private development we're experiencing as a result of the improving economy.

To increase private investment and new jobs, our community outreach staff is actively promoting Tehachapi as a great place to visit, open a business, or grow a business. We've been advertising Tehachapi in business publications to increase awareness of our great natural and business environments. We've also been working with our local business organization partners at the Chamber and the Economic Development Council to reach out to existing businesses and understand their needs through surveys and in-person visits. These efforts will continue in the coming year and we'll use the information we gather from this outreach to improve our processes, fees, and other services to be more friendly to businesses.

One of the city's biggest businesses is the Tehachapi Municipal Airport. Our dedicated airport management staff have been improving the airport in the past several years with new pavement, new striping, new lighting, new signage, new offices, and more. In the coming year, they will begin the planning and environmental work on a multi-million dollar grant project through the Federal Aviation Administration to replace failing asphalt and to relocate the taxiway to improve safety for larger aircraft.

None of this would be possible without a safe community. While our community is not 100 percent crime free, our police department staff and officers are working toward that goal. Under the leadership of our new police chief, Kent Kroeger, we know that our officers will continue enhancing our crime prevention efforts.

Lastly, our amazing Finance Department staff have done an amazing job of managing our city finances. We couldn't maintain balanced budgets, or have the money to execute projects, without their ongoing professional financial management. In the coming year, they will be restructuring their organization to improve their internal efficiency and effectiveness.

While there will always be disagreements about the things that get done in our community, what I hope we can all agree on is that our city staff is dedicated to improving this city and to doing it within our means.

As always, if you ever have any questions or comments regarding anything happening in the City of Tehachapi, I encourage you to call me at (661) 822-2200 or contact me at ggarrett@tehachapicityhall.com.

 

GREG GARRETT is City Manager for the City of Tehachapi.

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