We all try to take a fresh approach as we start a new year. As I look at 2013, here is what I hope we accomplish in the City of Redlands:
1. Financial stability: We have approved balanced city budgets that have maintained critical services and programs, protected and built reserves, reduced the need to borrow from other funds, and invested in important infrastructure projects. In 2013 we must continue this strategy as we finish the 2012-2013 fiscal year, and review and approve the 2013-2014 budget.
2. Labor contracts: We successfully concluded labor negotiations with our fire workforce that will save the city over $1 million annually when fully implemented. Our fire employees are to be commended for stepping up and agreeing to selected changes in their contacts that will provide savings over the next several years. Our challenge in 2013 is to resolve the remaining contracts consistent with our fire employee example.
3. Economic development: One of our most important priorities has been to pursue economic development aggressively to expand our business community and to increase revenues. We will continue this effort in 2013, hopefully with even more success as new businesses choose to locate and expand in Redlands.
4. Infrastructure investments: Our major street paving project is under way. This project will dramatically improve most Redlands streets, especially those in the worst condition. Similar projects are also ongoing to replace our water lines. But more work is needed in 2013 and future years to replace and repair the rest of our aging infrastructure. Funds to support these projects are a challenge, but we must work harder to identify funding and move ahead. Waiting to pursue these projects only increases the costs.
5. Children and Youth Programs: We are in the midst of a major study of all Redlands programs and services aimed at children and youth, no matter what funding source. This study will help us set future priorities for city investments in these areas. Important concerns regarding youth after-school programs, financial assistance for sports/recreation programs, increasing child obesity/poor fitness rates, and the adequacy of our park facilities should be addressed in 2013.
Of course there are other important issues the Council will focus on in 2013. I know we will work closely with the business community as well as other groups and individuals, to ensure we make Redlands a great place to live, work, and play.