The city council gave preliminary approval to our budget for the next Fiscal Year, from July 1, 2019 through June 30, 2020. The city’s budget is perhaps the most important way of setting priorities for services and projects. We expect the council to formally approve the budget in June. I’d like to discuss some of the budget highlights this week, and will provide more details in future columns.
We are pleased that the budget will be balanced for the sixth consecutive year. The strong economy has certainly helped us. Additionally, several years ago Rohnert Park residents voted to increase our local sales tax, which generates millions in revenue each year. Also, the city has demonstrated strong fiscal practices and prudent budgeting in recent years. All of these factors provide a solid financial foundation for today and tomorrow.
The budget includes a healthy level of reserves, and sets aside funds to replace expensive items (such as vehicles and information technology equipment) when we need to. We will continue to pay in advance for large upcoming expenses for pensions. That way we will not have to make cuts when the bills come due.
Next year’s budget for Public Safety includes funds for a new fire station on the west side of the city. With a third station, we plan to add a new Quick Response Vehicle at Station 2. It’s an SUV that will allow our officers to respond quickly to many of the ever-increasing calls for medical assistance, without relying only on our larger fire engines.
To help us better prepare for disasters, the budget also includes funding for mobile generators to provide back-up power for our water and sewer systems. This will give us an extra layer of protection should we lose power for a long time.
The issue of greatest concern to residents - traffic flow - will again get much attention. We will continue to refine the timing of our traffic signals along Rohnert Park Exp. and Golf Course Dr. to help traffic move more smoothly. We are also funding improvements to our traffic signals to allow more cars to make safe left turns at some of our busiest intersections.
We’re dedicating funds to improve sidewalks and our creek paths. In 2019 look for repaired paths on the Coleman Creek Path and Camino Colegio (from Magnolia to the pump station), and Crane Creek from Snyder Ln. to Five Creek. We’ll also be improving sidewalks on Southwest Blvd. west of Richard Crane, Camino Colegio between Mitchell and Manchester, and Commerce near Arlen Dr. In 2020, improvements are anticipated to continue on to Five Creek from Snyder Ln. to Hinebaugh Creek, Hinebaugh Creek from University District to Golf Course, Hinebaugh Creek from State Farm Dr. to Commerce and Copeland Creek from Country Club Dr. to the railroad tracks. Well that’s a mouthful of improvements that are included in the upcoming budget (more to follow in another column).
Mark your calendar. Spreckels’ performance of Cinderella runs from May 10-26 and tickets are available at www.rpcity.org/tickets. Come join in the 10-year anniversary kick-off event of Party On the Plaza & Farmers’ Market Fri., June 7 from 5-10 p.m.