One of the most important things that the Rohnert Park City Council does each year is adopt a budget. While budgets can seem boring and bureaucratic, they affect our day to day lives because they determine how much we spend on streets, parks, public safety, recreation and other city services that influence the quality of life in our community.
The city council and I strive to ensure that the budget addresses our residents’ top priorities. Fortunately, the large response to the community survey conducted earlier this year helps us understand what’s important to you. Those priorities are reflected in the budget, which includes:
$4.1 million to improve streets, which was the #1 concern we heard on the survey. Upcoming projects include Keiser Avenue reconstruction, rehabilitating Snyder Lane between Moura and Keiser, and improving Circle Drive, Martin Avenue and parts of Commerce, East Cotati, and State Farm. The developer of the housing across Rohnert Park Expressway from Sonoma State is already paying to widen the Expressway to four lanes between Snyder and Petaluma Hill Road. The state’s recent approval of an increase in the gas tax will provide additional funding for streets. We will begin to receive that money by the end of this year, which will allow us make further improvements.
Adding another maintenance worker to fix potholes, sidewalks and paths.
$200,000 to improve the timing of traffic lights, which should help traffic flow at our busiest intersections, particularly along Rohnert Park Expressway and Golf Course Drive. Traffic was the second most-cited issue in the community survey.
We also received numerous comments about the desire for improvements in our parks and to hold more community events. The budget includes:
$1.3 million for park improvements, including replacing playground equipment at Golis and Rainbow Parks. We will hire an additional landscaper to better maintain the parks. We are continuing to upgrade and open the restrooms in our parks, with Colegio Vista Park under construction. We have completed and opened restrooms in Alicia, Benicia and Magnolia (pools) Parks.
$950,000 to build a trail between the city and Crane Creek Regional Park.
$500,000 toward rehabilitating the Sunrise Park courts and the parking lot and funding from a developer to build all-weather soccer and softball fields.
$600,000 toward improving pathways and other tennis and basketball courts.
$40,000 to add community events, including a family-oriented series of events on Sunday afternoons at the Community Center.
We heard residents’ desires for more police patrols and enforcement of speeding and parking requirements. We just brought on seven new officers, four more are in the police academy now and we are still recruiting. The budget also includes funding for four Public Safety Officers to staff the West Side Public Safety Station, which will be built near Ashley Furniture. We will also purchase a new fire engine to replace an aging one and 10 police vehicles.
Finally, we continue to take a prudent, long-term view of the City’s finances. Thus, we are also putting money toward paying down our liabilities, addressing deferred maintenance on our buildings and building reserves so that we are better prepared for lean times.
I am pleased that this will be the fourth consecutive year Rohnert Park will have a balanced budget. Keeping the city in good fiscal shape over the long-term is essential to ensuring a high quality of life. I believe Rohnert Park is in good shape financially, which will allow us to serve you well for years to come.