Can I believe what I think I am seeing? There are signs of an improving economy popping up almost every day.

The city's budget remains balanced and we are expecting a slight increase in our sales and property tax revenue in the next fiscal year. Our unrestrictive fund balance (rainy day fund) is a healthy $3.9 million or 20 percent of our general fund expenditures, and we are not expecting any substantial year-end adjustments at the end of the fiscal year June 30.

The city staff and the City Council budget subcommittee are currently working on our next two-year budget which will be presented to the full council in May and adopted in June.

Since the beginning of this year we have seen signs of falling unemployment, profitability in the manufacturing section, an increase in housing values and a stock market that is sustaining record highs.

All indications are that the economy is recovering and now is the time to prepare to take advantage of the momentum that seems to be building.

Just as a surfer knows, to catch a wave you need to be in front of it, not behind it. If you catch it just right you can ride that wave all the way to the beach. If your timing is off, you may catch it for a short ride but then it passes under you. If you miss the wave, you have to wait for the next one to come along, and with an economic wave that could be years.


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The Martinez City Council understands that concept and at a retreat that was held in February, a major outcome was the consensus that economic development is a high City Council priority, right behind public safety and fiscal responsibility.

The council agreed to support the creation of a position, and the person hired will work directly with the city manager on economic development, housing and quality-of-life issues.

The creation of this new position will bring a whole new skill set to the city manager's team that does not exist today. The current team is made up of very talented and hardworking professionals that give 150 percent to the city.

They are experts in their fields and this additional position on the team will fill a void and help the city manager carry out the aggressive goals that the council outlined in the retreat.

The position title is deputy director of strategic planning and community development. The individual will report directly to the city manager.

The goals set forth by the City Council to be partially carried out by the person in this position are:

  • To re-energize the downtown with an emphasis on providing housing for residents who want to live near transportation, open space, a nearby marina and enjoy a high standard of living.

  • Revitalize the retail and commercial districts in the downtown to attract small businesses, new shops, renovated historic buildings and a re-emerging night life for young and old alike.

  • Strengthen the local economy by creating sustainable and viable economic development programs that promote the creation and retention of jobs.

  • Invest in the city's waterfront infrastructure and landscaping, attract a quality restaurant, renovate the amphitheater, give the fishing pier a face-lift and pursue a new hotel.

  • Resolve the long-term parking problem and consider a public/private venture which includes adding new retail, residential and a three-level parking garage on lot #4 in the downtown.

    The recruiting period ends May 3, with interviews being held May 14, and a start date of July 1.

    We are excited about the economic development potential of the historic downtown core and throughout the city. With this new position we believe the city will be in the strategic position to take advantage of the growing economic wave and ride it all the way to the beach.

    Rob Schroder is the mayor of Martinez. Email him at columns@bayareanewsgroup.com.