Commerce Mayor Kicks Off ‘State of the City’ Meetings Tonight
Mayor will discuss city finances and proposed sales tax increase.
By Nancy Martinez & Gloria Alvarez, EGP Staff Writers
Update: the Oct. 17 meeting has been cancelled and rescheduled.
Residents of the City of Commerce will be able to voice their concerns to city officials during the first of four “State of the City” addresses to be held tonight at Bristow Park Community Center.
Mayor Lilia R. Leon will discuss the city’s current finances and programs, as well as the city’s plans for progress and economic growth in the year ahead, according to a news release from the city. The mayor will speak at 6 p.m.; Bristow Park Community Center is located at 1466 South McDonnell Avenue.
Commerce’ Interim Public Information Officer Jason Stinnett told EGP that the mayor will discuss a range of topics, including Measure AA, a local half-cent sales tax increase placed on the November ballot by the city council. City officials say the increased sales tax revenue would help offset severe budget cuts.
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In July of this year, the city council adopted a $50,477,531 General Operating Budget for fiscal year 2012-2013. The budget contained a $5,000 surplus, despite projections of a $4 million deficit due to a loss of revenue blamed on the lackluster economy and the state’s decision to end redevelopment funding.
An unanticipated jump in revenue from sales taxes and fees, totaling nearly $1.7 million, $1.5 million in cuts to city department budgets, cost adjustments to the Sheriff’s Department and the sale of the city’s water production right to Whittier for $345,000, and $500,000 from the its reserves, allowed the city to close the funding gap without any major cuts to city programs or employee layoffs. Commerce has reduced its operating budget by $6 million of the last four budget cycles.
In August, following the recommendation of city Blue Ribbon Committee, council members approved placing the general tax measure up for a vote in November, and say it could raise $4.5 to $5 million over the first year to pay for vital city services, such as street repairs and public safety.
The proposed sales tax increase will be on the agenda at all four town hall-style meetings being held in October at different locations in the city.
“The goal is community outreach and to educate the community,” Stinnett said. “It ensures the community stays up to date on what is going on in the City.”
Not only will residents obtain information at the State of the City address, residents will also be able to participate in a Q&A with the city officials after the speech.
“Its good to get engaged in local government, to get to know what’s going on in the city,” Stinnet said. “That way government stays accountable.”
Typically, the city speaks to the business community in August and to residents during the Commerce’s Annual Birthday Celebration, but due to city budget cuts, the town hall-style addresses are more within the city’s budget, Stinnett told EGP.
“The city is very dedicated to transparency,” Stinnett said. “Hopefully [residents] show up and participate.”
Oct. 11, 6:30 p.m.—Bristow Park Community Center, 1466 S. McDonnell Ave.
Oct. 17, 6:30 p.m.—Ruben C. Batres Community Center, 4725 Astor Ave.
Oct. 18, 6:30 p.m.—Commerce Senior Center, 2555 Commerce Way
Oct. 25, 6:30 p.m.—Veterans Park Meeting Room, 6364 Zindell Ave.
October 11, 2012 Copyright © 2012 Eastern Group Publications, Inc.