December 3, 2002
I want to thank the Council for their vote of confidence, the residents of El Cerrito and my family. I am very pleased. Tonight, my wife Michelle and eldest daughter Katie are here but my daughter Christina is having her first varsity soccer game of the year at De Anza High School tonight so she couldn’t make it.
Last week I watched one of my favorite Holiday movies: National Lampoon Christmas Vacation with Chevy Chase who, as we all remember, was forever trying to light up his house.
Thanks to many individuals in our City, to the El Cerrito Plaza, to the local retailers along San Pablo Ave., and the El Cerrito Chamber of Commerce our City did get lit up in record time this season.
As our mayor said at the last Council meetings, with all that is going on, it is nice to see a few lights in town.
Lighting up our downtown this year, has been a good example of local, government & business groups working together to get something positive done. As Mayor Pro Tem, I am looking forward to working together in similar fashion on other issues of greater concern.
And yes, El Cerrito has things we need to deal with.
The attention given the 2016 audit of our city’s finances (recently in the SF Chronicle) has brought new urgency to the important goal of securing a solvent city budget. And this urgency and attention is a good thing. Any audit and more transparency are good things.
Similar to the lights example, our community has already begun to work together to get back to a better fiscal place after the recession a decade ago. These efforts have been through our voters at the ballot box.
El Cerritans – in the most democratic of ways – are very generous people. We vote for things that will improve our community and then we step up and pay the costs. Some have criticized that history of our… I don’t.
Twice since the 2016 audit, this Council has put forth measures that El Cerritans have voted in favor of — that will assist and improve our City’s General Fund:
First, Measure V – passed in 2018 – made El Cerrito a Charter City where we once again able to earn Real Property Transfer tax when homes are sold – estimated to bring in annually $2 to $2.5 Million.
Second, Measure H — just passed overwhelmingly – and will continue the parcel tax which supports parks and pools in the city – importantly — without having to go to the General Fund monies.
So, while there is much left to be done — with new budget scrutiny, possible cuts and developing new revenue opportunities, I believe we continue to be on the road back to addressing the budget issues this council was aware of before the Chronicle article.
For some time – and in moving Measure V, I have said that building our reserves (and possibly using new revenue for fire management) were my two top priorities. They remain such, and will occupy much of our Council agenda in 2020. Again, this not a secret to this Council:
And, even with these broad important goals – let’s not forget that this full-service City will also need to discuss and act on becoming a safer community, addressing our growth, limiting unwanted plastic into our community, discussing a possible future library & simply making our city of El Cerrito a better place.
Placemaking – like putting lights up.
So finally, thank you again. I look forward to working with Mayor Lyman and the rest of our community for the residents of El Cerrito.