At the end of January, the City Council held its annual workshop. The workshop is a time to review the past year’s accomplishments and budget, as well as set priorities.
The list of accomplishments for 2012 can be found on the home page of the city’s website at www.fairfield.ca.gov. It is an impressive list, especially given all the uncertainty last year surrounding the budget. With the passage of Measure P, a sense of relief and stability has been achieved. Instead of talking about the closure of a fire station, shutting down the Aquatics Complex at Allan Witt Park, or losing additional police officers, this year’s workshop focused on how to invest Measure P funds and establishing priorities for the organization beyond the budget.
Measure P is a 1 percent transaction and use tax that has a five-year term. The tax goes into effect April 1 and expires March 31, 2018. The city is currently estimating that Measure P will generate approximately $13 million per year over five years.
So how will this money be spent?
The strategy endorsed by the City Council was firmly rooted in feedback received from the community. More specifically, over the past year, residents and business owners expressed a desire for the city to use Measure P funds for the following:
There is no way Measure P can fully address all the items above; however, if prudently invested, Measure P funds can be deployed to build a solid foundation.
The Measure P funding strategy endorsed by the City Council is prudent and balanced. As a starting point, the City Council agreed to use Measure P funds to maintain existing service levels and grow the general fund reserve to 20 percent at the end of five years. As a result, many positions and programs that are either being funded by one-time grants or donations will be maintained. This includes two firefighter positions that were to be eliminated in August 2013, five police officer positions that did not have funding beyond fiscal year 2016-17, a position in code enforcement, and a position at the PAL Matt Garcia Youth Center.
Measure P funds will also be used to bolster the city’s economic development efforts. In addition to continuing to support the Fairfield Main Street Association, a new position in economic development will be created that will be responsible for attracting new business to our community and facilitating new development opportunities. Devoting resources to economic development activities is absolutely critical in order to grow revenues to survive without Measure P in five years.
At the Senior Center, the City Council authorized the use of funds to maintain the Senior Day and Brain Boosters programs.
The one item that was not resolved at the City Council workshop was the level of commitment to the city’s streets. At an upcoming City Council meeting in either March or April, the City Council will be asked to provide feedback and direction on a recommendation to increase the level of maintenance of the city’s streets. In the future, I look forward to reviewing how these funds are spent with the Fairfield Taxpayers Committee that was established under Measure P to ensure transparency.
At the workshop, the City Council also adopted a broad set of strategic initiatives that will prioritize the allocation of resources and the organization’s work. The five strategic initiatives are economic development, neighborhoods, organizational and fiscal stability, youth, and protecting Travis Air Force Base. Over the coming months, city staff will seek the input and direction of the City Council on the implementation of these initiatives.
After Measure P, the organization is still the smallest it has been in the past 20 years. For this reason, to accomplish these goals, it is just as important now, as before, to establish partnerships. The recent joint workshop in which city and Fairfield-Suisun School District officials discussed plans to work together to establish a youth services center at the former Sullivan Middle School site is a great example.
Sean P. Quinn is Fairfield’s city manager. Reach him at email@example.com.