Opinion

City of Pacific's economy is showing slow signs of recovery | Hildreth

The economy in the City of Pacific is slowly improving.

In spite of seeing a few more vacant commercial properties, we are starting to see some interest in new businesses and home sales.

One of our longtime businesses and a good friend of our city recently closed its doors. General Equipment, formerly located on Frontage Road, sold heavy construction equipment and at one time, was a major part of our tax base.

Although we are sad to see them go, it should not cause further hits to our budget. Much of the income our city received from them already was taken from our city two years ago when the state Legislature imposed the “Model B&O Tax” ordinance and “Streamlined Sales Tax.” These two bills cut our city’s revenue far worse than the downturn in the economy did.

I can understand why the state Legislature would want to make tax laws consistent across the state. However, switching the taxes from the city that is the home of the company to where the business makes a sale was not the answer. Not only does it hurt our city, which still needs to pay for the infrastructure that supports that business, but now many of those businesses have to write multiple checks to all of the cities they did business instead of just one to us.

We have been lucky with our budget for two reasons. First, as we have been fiscally conservative since I took office, we had paid off a lot of bills and actually built up a reserve fund. Over this past two years we have dramatically cut into those reserves to the point they cannot carry us over another year.

Without bringing in new businesses, helping our current businesses or otherwise increasing revenues, we will not be able to sustain our current levels of service.

A second reason we have done better than many other cities is we have been realistic in our last two budgets. Although we did have to roll back revenue projections last year, we had to do so far less than other cities. Where many cities in our region had massive layoffs and cuts of 25 percent or more, we cut about 10 percent. This year, although we will still need to make some adjustments, we are hoping to do so without making dramatic cuts in service or staffing.

Over the past few years, we have had a Citizen’s Advisory Committee that has looked at the budget and, along with my office, made recommendations on our budget priorities. This has worked out very well. However, I want to change it up a bit for the 2011 budget.

Starting at Pacific Days, the city will have a budget survey along with information for citizens to provide input. This information will then be used to increase citizen participation in the crafting of next year’s budget. We will still use the CAC meetings, but the additional citizen input will allow for a much broader cross section of citizens and show us where we need to provide more information to citizens.

Work completed

Work is nearly complete on the intersection improvements for Stewart Road/Valentine Avenue.

This intersection, long one of the major problems along the Stewart Road corridor will now have left turn lanes (both directions) and signal improvements.

Contractors are just doing the final touches to the project and removing the old utility poles and traffic signals. As with any project, there may be a few glitches over the next few weeks that need to be ironed out. If you see any malfunctions, please contact City Engineer Jim Morgan or myself to report them.

Boggy Garden update

On behalf of project coordinator Leanne Guier, I want to thank all of the volunteers who helped on May 30 move nearly 15 yards of invasive plants from this storm water facility to a dumpster. As the saying goes, “many hands make short work.”

Thank you also to Waste Management for donating the dumpster. This project could not happen without your help.

A planting party is scheduled for June 26. More details to follow.

This project will convert an unattractive and failing storm water facility into a “Boggy Garden” that not only will look better, but will better process storm water runoff and improve water quality.

Pacific Mayor Richard Hildreth can be reached at pacificmayor@aol.com.

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