Guest View: Actions for a safe and prosperous city future
August 15, 2009
We in local government owe so much to the people who reside here. We are the custodians of the public trust, and we are bound ethically and professionally to look out for the interest of all of the people who reside here. It is an important responsibility, and one that city department managers take very seriously.
The city’s elected leadership over many years has worked to make improvements in the community, and much has been accomplished. There is much more to do, and I wanted to offer some personal thoughts on how we create a safe and prosperous city future while respecting and protecting our natural environment.
Even during these challenging economic times, opportunity presents itself, and we in government need to focus our energies and attention on those important activities that will have the best long and short-term benefits to our residents and business community.
The following suggestions are not necessarily listed in priority order, but they are all important.
1. Maintain the fiscal integrity of city government and continue to provide the best services possible to the community within available financial resources. City government’s financial position has dramatically improved over the last seven years because elected leadership has supported sound fiscal policies and a professionally managed and non-political city finance system;
2. Support the delivery of essential public safety services;
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3. Oppose all illegal and improper state government taking of city government and Redevelopment Agency funds;
4. Pursue aggressively responsible and effective policies and actions to reduce fire fuel in the city limits and Tahoe Basin. We face no greater natural threat than catastrophic fire;
5. Seek state and federal grant funding and RDA resources to make improvements (water supply, distribution and fire hydrants) to the Lukins Water System to better protect the 937-plus Lukins customers and the city from the threats of fire;
6. Complete the city’s general plan (including the identification and designation of land for high-tech, green, and other economic diversification projects) and have it adopted by TRPA;
7. Complete the Tahoe Valley Community Plan and have it adopted by the City Council and TRPA;
8. Complete and have the City Council adopt the city’s redevelopment plan for Project Area No. 2. This is an essential financing tool that helps to build needed improvements and assist smaller local businesses.
9. Continue to pursue aggressively state and federal funding for implementation of sustainability goals (including funds for voluntary residential and commercial energy retrofit utilizing qualified local suppliers, workers and services);
10. Devote staff resources and time to assist the Ski Run Business Improvement District Board to develop programs and activities to create a “sense of place” and public gathering in the city’s “downtown” area;
11. Continue to pursue the re-establishment of inter-regional commercial air service and federal dollars for airport improvements;
12. Seek federal and state funds and regulatory approval to make water quality improvements, especially in the Bijou area, and minimize costs to private-property owners impacted by water quality projects.
13. Search for federal and/state funding and work with the developer on financially sound and fiscally prudent ways to complete the convention center/hotel project.
14. Seek at least two major retailers to come to town to serve the needs of residents who identified deficiencies in existing shopping opportunities in the Community Survey;
15. Continue to collaborate with Caltrans and regional agencies to see that the Highway 50 improvements inside the city limits are started on time and within budget;
16. Seek federal and state funding for Phase I of the Lakeview Commons project and funding for additional phases;
17. Continue seeking federal, state, and Redevelopment Agency housing set-aside funds to assist in the construction of quality and affordable workforce housing and to improve city neighborhoods;
18. Identify and seek an adequate funding source to make road repairs and maintenance on an annual basis and to implement a sidewalk installation program (where desired and needed);
19. Search for federal and state grants for the construction of new public facilities (government center, fire stations, and a relocated parks and public works corporation yard);
20. Expand and implement existing small-business assistance programs;
21. Reduce long-term legacy costs of city health care and public retirement systems in consultation with recognized labor associations;
22. Examine opportunities for service and local government consolidations where financially feasible and economically sound.
– David Jinkens is South Lake Tahoe city manager.