State of the City
2016 State of the City Address
Invest in Ventura, Now and For a Strong Tomorrow
Mayor Erik Nasarenko presented the State of the City address titled --Invest in Ventura, Now and For a Strong Tomorrow -- on February 29, 2016.
To watch Mayor Nasarenko's State of the City speech in its entirety click here.
Read the edited version of the Mayor's speech below.
A city at a crossroads
Ventura's setting is one of its greatest assets. Located between the Pacific Ocean, hills and two rivers, our quality of life is hard to beat.
Looking ahead, what is the future for Ventura?
Significant progress has been made at the Community Park however there is still much work to do.
We have unmet needs at this park that still need to be built.
There is the opportunity to build more soccer and softball fields, playground areas, restrooms, a community center, parking lots and a library at this site.
What makes these opportunities possible?
Where do we go from here?
We have to continue to manage our reserves wisely and prudently.
The City of Ventura is living within its means. As financial stewards the Ventura City Council remains steadfast in its commitment toward long term financial stability and adopts a balanced budget each year.
The City of Ventura is committed to providing transparency and open governement to our citizens. Financial documents are available online for citizens to access at cityofventura.net/ft.
During the past recession, the City of Ventura lost over 10% of its workforce and, despite never fully recovering, the City staff continue to provide many quality services to the community.
Where does the City get its revenue?
Property tax and sales tax are the major sources of revenue that pays for city services.
About 6.5% of the 7.5% paid in sales tax goes to the county and the state.
In 2015, Ventura's sales tax revenue grew $3.6M over FY 2014. The fact that our sales tax base is increasing demonstrates the City's commitment to economic growth.
For every dollar in property taxes you pay, 16 cents stays here, the rest of it goes to the state and schools.
In 2015, Ventura's property tax revenue totaled approximately $30.7M which was an increase of 5.8% from FY 2014.
The City has declared the vacant land behind the Ventura Auto Center as Focus Area One. With the extension of Olivas Park Drive to Johnson Drive and the construction of a levy, this will be an area that will support commercial space.
This year we will see the opening of the new hospital wing at the Ventura County Medical Center and new hospital at Community Memorial. Between these two proejcts there is a $700M investment within the Wellness District in Ventura.
The City will begin a $2.9M wastewater project on Brent Street and Main Street beginning in August. A new sewer line will be installed so that we have the capacity for present and future growth in the Wellness District and to eliminate overflows. The existing sewer line on Brent street was installed in 1969.
A new Kaiser Permanente located along the 101 freeway near Valentine Road and Market Street will bring 31 physicians and 124 staff.
The City is 150 years old and our infrastructure needs to be repaired, maintained and upgraded.
Streets conditions continue to degrade
This graph shows the Pavement Condition (PCI) Index for streets in Ventura. Our PCI is expected to drop from 70 to 63 by the year 2020. Absent new funding we can expect the condition of our streets to go down.
In order to maintain a PCI of 70, the City would need approximately $10.2M annually over the next 10 years. With only a $2.3 M estimated in net gas tax revenues projected by 2019 for pavement maintenance, an additional $7.8M is needed to maintain the existing PCI of 70.
Sidewalks are in need of repair
The sidewalk curb and gutter budget had significant decreases in 2009-10 fiscal years due to the budget cuts. Only minimal funding has been made since then.
Coastal erosion is expensive
Given our location, Ventura also has expensive challenges like coast erosion. As we are hit with high surf we need to protect infrastructure like the Promenade and the Pier, both are major tourist atrractions and draw visitors to Ventura.
The City has insurance for major occurences but limited funds for maintenance. We spend an average of $87,500 annually for repairs, maintenance, utilities and trash pick-up.
Stormdrains lack capacity and need a funding source
While our concerns turn to the drought, we also have concerns about the lack of capactiy for our stormdrains that leave us vulnerable during high intensity rain events. Stormdrains are the only underground utility for which there is no revenue source. The average age of our pipes in Ventura is almost 50 years with some pipes close to 90 years old.
Decreased state and federal funding impacts Ventura
The state eliminated local Redevelopment agencies which was the only tool left for cities to reinvest in their communities.
There is less federal funding for low income areas. Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) which fund programs such as the Mobile Home Rehabilitation Grant Program, Economic Development Program, Avenue Library Services, Westpark Site & Facility Improvemetns and the Winter Warming Shelter have decreased.
This year's allocation, the lowest we have ever received, is about 31% less than in 2005 and about 20% less than 10 years ago (2006).
Increase in violent gang crimes
In 2014, there were 13 violent gang crimes and in 2015 there were 32 violent gang crimes. In 2014, there were 493 gang members arrested and in 2015 there were 607 gang members arrested. Ventura has 1,100 documented gang members and 10 gangs.
The Ventura Police Department Gang Unit has decreased from 7 Officers to 2 Officers.
Maintaing fire, police and paramedic emergency response is vital to protecting our community
Fire Station 4 located at Telephone Raod and Montgomery Avenue is still operated from a federal grant. Ventura needs a permanent revenue source to keep this fire station open.
Homelessness in our community demands more resources
According to the 2015 homeless count, 56% of the homeless in Ventura are chronically homeless. We have made progress and our numbers are declinging but homelessness impacts the environment and quality of life, and we want better for these individuals.
Library services for the east side
When the economy was good Ventura and the County had enough revenue to keep three branches in the city open.
The City has been unsuccessful in getting voters to assess themselves to pay for street lighting costs.
Approximately $.5M comes out of the General Fund to pay for street lighting instead of funding police, fire, parks and roads.
Compared to other mission cities, Ventura has the lowest sales tax rate. This is important because as an older city we need more resources to maintain and repair our infrastructure.
This community chose to invest in the future of Ventura on several noteworthy occassions:
- Our predecessors chose to invest in Ventura bu building the Pier to achieve economic prosperity. Chief products shipped from the pier were citrus, lima beans and crude oil while the off-loaded products were lumber bricks and cement that facilitated economic growth.
- In 1969, our predecessors had a vision to save Ventura County Courthouse, now City Hall, from demolition when it was determined to be seismically unsound. Bonds were floated to save this neoclassical building and demonstrates our city's strong commitment to preserve our rich history and architecture.
- In 2000, a measure was placed on the ballot to build a Community Park. Sixteen years later our community is enjoying soccer, softball and swimming.
Last month the City Council voted unanimously to create a new goal "Pursuing Long-term Fiscal Stability," with one of the objectives a local sales tax measure. To that end, we are beginning to have conversations with the community about it.
Now is the time to invest in Ventura to maintain our streets, sidewalks, infrastructure, parks and quality of life for our children and their children.