A little insight into some of those key (really important but not necessarily shiny) issues starting to shape up for 2017 and things we will be working on:
· Pension: One of the most important issues facing California cities is how organizations will meet the impending pension crisis as boomers are retiring and annual contribution begin climbing. Pension stabilization and funding will be one of the more significant issues to be dealt with and will be the focus of a council meeting at the start of 2017. Staff is working on a strategy to fund and lighten the impacts which includes recommendations to the City Council.
· Fees: From water and sewer to building and swimming, fees are under review from both sides of the equation (both up and down). Chromium 6 and State regulation will be front and center and it will not be pretty, especially for seniors and the lower income folks who get thrown in with everyone else but have proportionately higher impacts. Right now, we are looking at water increases of a minimum of $1,200 a year per residents. The economic impact will be close to $3 million from the Winters economy alone by this State mandate.
· Streets: As one of the smallest cities in the Sacramento Region, we get very little revenue to put toward the maintenance of our streets and roads. Examining options for funding and maintenance strategy will be an important discussion.
· General Plan: The City’s current General Plan will reach our 2018 horizon date in just one year. Strategically discussing when and how updates will occur will be forthcoming.
· Economic Development: Capitalizing on the PG&E project, new hotels and advancements in local agriculture will be front and center. Also, strategically seeing how we support all sectors of business development will be looked at. The key will be increasing jobs, vitality for existing businesses and expansion of local opportunities. It will be an exciting time for Winters and something fun to work on.
· Emergency Preparedness: From Police and Fire to public works readiness, the City will be conducting extensive training for staff and volunteers on our response capabilities.
A couple items from this week:
· The opening and ribbon cutting of the Yolo Federal Credit Union branch in Winters was an exciting evening. The facility is absolutely incredible and will be a real asset to our community.
· The City Council approved the drilling of a pilot well hole which will include extensive geological analysis regarding Chromium 6. Costs are starting to mount and this State mandate will cost tens of millions. The $150k spent on the test well will look like a drop in the bucket when we are spending upwards of $40m. Crazy!
· City and WJUSD staff met to discuss the Summer Munchkin Program which provides summer care, enrichment and tutoring to a large number of students in our community. A really good meeting and City staff left impressed with the support from much of the WJUSD administration of the program.
· The USDA Rural Development Program was in town talking small business and agricultural funding opportunities. Literally a “gold mine” of programs in support of small business. Look for additions to the City website with the information and resource links. Better than good!!
· Winters High English teacher extraordinaire Matt Biers Ariel has a new novel out called Light the Fire. It is about high school. He will be doing a reading as a fund raiser for Winters Friends of the Library on December 8, at the library at 7:00 PM. The book is available on Amazon. I have my copy already and so far, it is a great read!!
· Salmon are slowly starting to return up Putah Creek. Go down and check them out!!!!!!!!!
Finally, as most on my distribution know, there is no Friday Update during the Thanksgiving Holiday week. The reason is everyone turns on their “out of office” with their email and the responses (sometimes up to 2000 hammers my email).
Have a wonderful Thanksgiving and count your blessings for the incredible community we live and work in. Winters is a beautiful, safe and caring town where kindness and neighborly support still exists. Do something nice for someone and show some love. It’s what the holidays are really about (really!!).