Dear Antioch Resident,
I have been on board as Antioch’s City Manager since January 7th and this letter is to provide you with an update on the City’s recent activities and financial condition.
This effort is part of the City’s Strategic Plan, as follows: “Strategy L-1: Improve community communications and trust in City government and keep the community well informed as to the activities of the City departments.” Along the same lines, we have also implemented written Weekly Reports and Monthly Reports. All these documents are on the City website: www.ci.antioch.ca.us.
The City Council and staff have been very busy the last several months. In January we held four Community Cafés as part of the citywide Strategic Plan development. These were great opportunities for the Council and staff to meet residents who don’t usually have the time to come out to a Council meeting. We gathered a lot of good information from folks on the direction they’d like to see the City head over the next few years. The Council adopted the Strategic Plan on June 10th.
The Council also adopted the fiscal year 2014/15 budget in June. This is the first year that Measure C funding is included in the budget. The Council allocated 100% of the Measure C revenue, projected at $4,489,747 for this fiscal year, to the Police Department and Code Enforcement. This is the planned use of Measure C funds for the seven year life of the measure. The breakdown for 2014/15 is $4,300,847 to Police, and $188,900 to Code Enforcement. Code Enforcement is bringing on another Code Enforcement Officer with their allocation. The Police Department’s goal is to bring the number of sworn Officer staffing up to 97 this fiscal year and to 104 within two years. Unfortunately, retirements and other separations are keeping us from gaining ground quickly. Since January 2013 we’ve hired 26 Officers, but have only gained a net of 4 due to retirements and other separations. Public safety and Police Officer hiring remain our top priorities. The budget document is also available on the City’s website.
The City is actively looking for economic development opportunities. The Downtown/ Rivertown area has been primed for redevelopment for several years. With the downturn in the economy, capital investments dried up. But, now that the economy is improving, things are looking up. The City’s Strategic Plan calls for updating and implemenAntioch City Manager writes first letter to the communityting the 2006 Downtown Plan. The City has issued a Request for Qualifications/Proposals (RFQ/P) for City-owned sites on the east end of downtown. The vision for this location is market-rate, for-sale, transit-oriented residential development. The deadline for developer qualifications and proposals is November 3, 2014. In the meantime, the City will be conducting focus groups to get community input. Once we have a viable proposal, two community cafes are planned to get input on the specifics of the proposal.
The City, having recently obtained full ownership, is now marketing the former Humphrey’s restaurant, located at the beautiful downtown marina. We are seeking an experienced, well financed, restaurateur to renovate the building and bring a quality destination restaurant.
Also related to Downtown/Rivertown revitalization, the City was awarded a $429,000 grant from the California Strategic Growth Council for a Downtown/Rivertown Specific Plan. This plan will analyze the potential development opportunities, especially as they relate to transit-oriented development, creating jobs, and increasing economic vitality. This effort will complement the downtown east project.
Eight months into this job, the most repeated concern I have heard from people is “why can’t Antioch afford more staff, especially Police Officers?” The answer is easy; but solving the problem is hard. Antioch continues to face a severe fiscal crisis. We do not have a spending problem. We have a revenue problem.
Although the citizens passed Measure C in November, 2013, revenues are still inadequate to provide acceptable levels of service to the community and we continue to be among the poorest city governments in the County. With Measure C, our budgeted General Fund revenue for fiscal year 2014/15 is $43,046,381. With a population of 106,455, that puts our per capita revenue at only $404.36. Compare this to our neighboring cities of Brentwood at $817.35 and Pittsburg at $555.84. Comparable sized cities Concord and Richmond are at $681.68 and $1255.75 – a General Fund three times as large as Antioch’s. Since 2007, the City has cut staffing and expenses by over 30%, instituting furlough Fridays and cutting upper management salaries by 10%.
This revenue problem is why the City Council put Measure O on the November ballot. In 2013 a citizens group requested that the City Council add the rental or leasing of residential property to the business license ordinance at a rate of $240 per unit per year. At that time, the City Council decided to only bring one measure forward, and elected to move ahead with the sales tax ordinance (Measure C). This year, Measure O will ensure that residential landlords pay a Business License Tax based on the number of units rented. The rate structure is $250 per year for single family dwelling rentals, and $150 per year for multi-family rental units. In addition, the minimum Business License Tax is proposed to go from $25, where it was in the 1960’s, to $100 (except for non-professional home based businesses, which will remain at $25). Detailed information is on the City web site.
The City Council and City staff are dedicated to making Antioch the best community we can, and we want to hear from you, our residents. Of course, you can connect with the Council at any Council meeting or by e-mail. I also encourage you to contact me directly to share your thoughts or to ask any questions. I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. I always look forward to your feedback.