MORAGA -- It's been a year of accomplishment for the town -- the implementation of pavement repair funded by Measure K and various major community repair, renovation, administrative and partnership accomplishments -- and Mayor Dave Trotter was more than happy to point them out.
These were among the high points in Trotter's 2013 "State of the Town" address to more than 100 guests at the Moraga Country Club on Nov. 21. He also outlined the town's vision for 2014, when Moraga will celebrate its 40th anniversary.
"Middle age? I think not -- our best years are still in front of us," Trotter said, after announcing the annual Pear and Wine Festival in September will mark the official anniversary celebration.
Lacing his presentation with repeated compliments to Town Manager Jill Keimach and Parks and Recreation Director Jay Ingram, Trotter said Moraga had exercised good fiscal discipline, resulting in a $386,475 general fund reserve surplus.
"(It's) a significant reserve for rainy days," Trotter said.
Rising property values, increased sales tax collection, a balanced budget and a clean auditor's report proved fiscal restraint, he suggested, saying, "We do a lot with just 5 cents of your every tax dollar."
The ongoing Shop Moraga First campaign, he said, will accelerate local neighborhood street repair, which gained the biggest boost from the passage of
Measure K. "We're going to spend $7.7 million on the streets over the next three years," Trotter said. That figure includes state and federal funding the town has or will qualify for, and will apply to fixing town roads.
The $6.6 million program to improve or repair structures including the Hacienda, the Calle La Mesa Storm Drain and Laguna Creek Embankment, has or will invest funds Trotter credited, in large part, to Keimach and her staff. And labor agreements with town staff that led to more flexible work schedule were instigated by Keimach, who asked the employees to identify what they wanted more than money.
"It's been a year of accomplishment, of not kicking the can down the road. We've had excellent relations with our employees so that the town can provide the service people expect while being conservative," he said.
Drawing financial support from local, state and federal partners provided the means to complete or begin a number of projects. Neighboring Lafayette shared the Calle La Mesa repair costs, and Moraga joined with Orinda in contributing to the construction costs of the Lamorinda Skatepark parking lot. FEMA and Cal-OES emergency funding was secured to repair the Laguna Creek damage caused by a 2006 storm. The Hacienda Foundation partnered in the Pavilion Building's $117,000 capital project. And community support shored up one of Trotter's favorite causes -- preserving the New Rheem Theatre, especially with the purchase of digital projectors.
"The theater is still at risk," he cautioned. "We want to sustain it as a historically significant attribute."
Moraga's history as a community invested in art and culture also led to reinstated Sunday hours at the Moraga Library.
The addition of high-visibility crosswalks, solar-powered streetlights, the Livable Moraga Road campaign and a "wonderful, right-sized" police department left Trotter boasting about this cul-de-sac town's safety: "It's not a good place for a criminal to run. We have no homicides, no serious crimes."
Profiles of several residential development projects turned the attention to the future, and to two issues to which Trotter has devoted himself during his term -- preserving the area's ridgelines and building a gymnasium. The Town Council recently established a Hillsides and Ridgelines Steering Committee to consider making changes to related regulations and policies. A facilities planning subcommittee will explore shared use and new facilities potential with the local middle and high schools.
More than two dozen community volunteers received plaques. Town Councilman Mike Metcalf, noting Moraga's civic involvement and population demographics, said, "The town is getting older because people like it so much, they just don't like to leave."