2019 State of the City Address
Lemon Grove Branch Library Community Room
Wednesday, August 7, 2019
A LOT WITH LESS
Accomplishments in Office and a Look Back
Thank you, Helen Ofield
Members of the Lemon Grove City Council, Planning Commissioners, School Board Members, fellow elected officials, veterans, community leaders, members of the clergy, family and friends.
Thank you for sharing some of your time with me this evening.
I am honored to be here with you for my second State of the City address. And I am so happy to deliver it here at the Lemon Grove Library!
It is one of my favorite places to visit in the city and I consider it to be - the ultimate cool zone!
This library is a designated Cool Zone that provides relief from the heat... On hot summer days when you step through the door - there are books, e-books, computers, learning opportunities and events for all ages. From children to seniors are – they are all available to you six days a week.
So welcome to the cool zone!
While the City of Lemon Grove is small we have a big heart.
And we care,
We care about our quality of life
We care about the future of our city
However, we are faced with the difficult dilemma of operating as a government that is continuously tasked with doing more with less. While this is a Lemon Grove specialty, difficult financial times are looming at our front door. Unfortunately, without the finances available, our priorities will go unfunded, as we try and keep the current services funded.
Last year I spoke about the continued structural deficit that has been in the making long before I was elected Mayor of Lemon Grove.
The City is still grappling with this difficult financial situation. Last year, the city of Lemon Grove dipped into emergency reserves just to make ends meet. The emergency reserves is set aside for emergencies such as natural disasters. This practice is unsustainable, and we are depleting those reserves.
Needless to say, I am not supportive of this continued practice. Our basic expenses continue to rise, while our sources of revenue are unable to keep up, our largest budget expense is Public Safety -Sheriff’s, Fire and Animal Control services are growing at 6% per year. Yet, our revenue is growing at 1.6% per year. To put our revenue growth into context, the Consumer Price Index for the San Diego region peaked at 3.8% during the last 12 months. Our budget problem is not a spending problem. It’s a revenue problem!
This problem did not happen overnight. And it will not be solved overnight. We have tightened our belts, we have made tough cuts, and those cuts are showing!
As a result, I receive public comments daily about the need for more programs for youth; that we need to help the homeless; that we need more sidewalks and I receive questions on why can’t we keep our city clean.
Now is the time all Lemon Grove residents to come together and collaboratively address these problems. If we work together.
We can build the future we want for Lemon Grove. “Never doubt that small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; It’s the only thing that ever has.” Those are the inspirational words of Margaret Mead.
I am proud of a small group of thoughtful and proactive residents. Who stepped forward to act. In the coming days you will see volunteers throughout the City with petitions for a three-quarter cent tax measure. When you see them, please take a moment and think about the Lemon Grove that we all want to live in and want to realize. So that you can be proud to call this City, home.
Together we can overcome this structural deficit. That is the underlying cause of the issues and concerns expressed by residents and business owners. Despite this structural deficit, we continue to deliver the public services that our community needs.And have made notable accomplishments this past year. Your elected leaders came together to paint a clear vision for the future of Lemon Grove.
Together, we made a commitment to:
- Prioritize public street repairs and maintenance;
- To add more life to the community with Community events; by adding park space, by adding bike lanes and trails and by adding public art.
- We committed to prioritizing public safety by improving the safety of our parks by adopting laws to keep our parks alcohol and smoke free. We created an ‘Adopt A Park’ program. I am so happy to see the Clergy Association is the first group to adopt Promenade Park.
- We committed to engaging in regional dialogue on homelessness with the other east county cities to collaboratively find strategies that help reduce homeless individuals on our streets by connecting them to the right resources.
- We continue to support local businesses and encourage the opening of new businesses. We want to activate our downtown core and we are actively working to improve on existing community partnerships.
We are looking for opportunities to welcome new community sponsors.
I am proud to share that since my last state of the city address, in partnership with Grossmont High School District and the Lemon Grove School District, we provided more than 15,500 summer meals to Lemon Grove children. To ensure they have a healthy meal while school was out.
Our grant funded a bicycle patrol program that is cycling through our city, with Sheriff Deputies trained and ready to patrol the City of Lemon Grove.
We had a record number of children in Summer Day Camp (av. 107/week, max. 127,) and we are on schedule to break last year’s record.
The first brewery in the City opened, 13 Point Brewing now calls Lemon Grove home.
We passed a Tobacco Retail License Ordinance, which will protect our children from being the victims of underage tobacco sales.
We hit the streets hard! We paved 11 miles of streets and repaired 1,487 potholes. These are record numbers for the City!
We also cleaned up our City! We removed 270 graffiti tags, cleaned up 211 illegal dumps and removed 24 homeless encampments.
We also adopted home share regulations for the first time ever.
We opened a new Passport Acceptance Facility in City Hall.
We built new Gazebos in our Parks.
Held Safe Destination Nights in the Grove at the Recreation Center.
We worked with the local Clergy Association and the New School of Architecture to breathe life into
Promenade Park with new events and amenities.
We opened the first Community Garden at Civic Center Park with the drive and tenacity of committed Lemon Grove residents. I’m happy to say that the garden is taking root in our City!
Our deputies and firefighters were also busy. Sheriff’s Deputies responded to 13,085 calls for service and we had the highest number of Deputy initiated calls at peaking at 8,182. Lemon Grove Firefighters went on 5,216 service calls, with 4,090 of those calls designated as medical aid.
I’m also very proud of our city staff. Through innovation, cost cutting, and staff taking on more duties from vacant positions, we were able to close the $300,000 deficit this past year.
While providing basic services to more than 26 thousand Lemon Grove residents every day!
Now, let’s take a look at what is coming your way next year
The City Council and I have unanimously renewed our commitment to prioritize street repair, improve walk-ability and public safety.
The City was awarded a $2.5 million SANDAG grant to continue work on Connect Main Street.
Thanks to SB 1 funds, we are set to schedule more streets to be paved in 2020.
Public Works staff will improve the look of our medians throughout Lemon Grove.
We are renewing our commitment to public safety. Lemon Grove secured another grant for the Sheriff’s bike patrol. And we are hopeful the City will be awarded a grant to purchase a new fire engine.
We are working on implementing a grant that the four East County Cities supported to strategically and hopeful that we can work together to support our vision for the City.
A vision to improve the quality of life for generations to come.
I believe in the City of Lemon Grove! I believe in you; And I truly believe we have a bright future ahead!
A future that is worthy of your support!