PLEASANTON -- After suffering through one of the worst economic downturns in history, recently elected Mayor Jerry Thorne says Pleasanton, like much of the state, is rebounding and shows continuing signs of improvement.
In his first state of the city address since winning the mayoral seat in November, Thorne touted the economic growth of Pleasanton businesses large and small over the past year.
"When you leave today, you will be confident that 2013 will be just as great as 2012, if not better," said Thorne to a sold-out crowd at Hilton Pleasanton at the Club. "And Pleasanton will continue to master the challenges ahead while being true to the unique spirit of our community."
Thorne pointed to the city's work with Workday -- to keep the software company in the city and allow it to expand -- that could bring up to 4,000 more jobs to Pleasanton, making it the city's largest employer. A seven-year council member before being elected mayor, Thorne also noted several developments in the city, including the University of San Francisco opening a campus in the city near the West Dublin-Pleasanton Station in July and the Gateway Shopping Center on Bernal that is fully leased and highlighted by a new Safeway.
Pleasanton also saw several current businesses expand, including Mercedes-Benz, which added a 72,000-square-foot showroom and service facility, and the Pleasanton Auto Mall also expanding showrooms and service bays, Thorne said.
Downtown Pleasanton also saw its commercial vacancy rate dip to 5.6 percent, down from 6.9 percent in 2010, and said that city leaders and the owner of the building that housed Domus were working with a national retailer to move into the space. Thorne did not elaborate on the potential tenant, and city's economic development director, Pamela Ott, also couldn't comment but said the owner of the building and a real estate broker were negotiating and that an announcement would be made when it's finalized.
"2012 was a banner year for our city," Thorne said. "Pleasanton is great because we are building it together."
Sales tax revenue also rebounded from a low of $15.1 million in fiscal 2009-2010 to $19.1 million for fiscal 2011-2012, according to data from the city's finance department. Despite the gains, Thorne said the city still must remain fiscally solvent and pointed to the recent work it had done in regards to pensions, specifically the city's unfunded liability.
Pleasanton reduced its unfunded liability by between $5.4 million and $25.8 million from June 2010 to June 2011, depending on which value is used, according to data provide by the city's finance department. However, the unfunded liability still stands at between $131.6 million and $162.2 million, again depending on which figures are used.
Thorne said the city will continue to move toward its goal set in 2011 to reduce its pension obligations by at least 10 percent over the next five years and said the city would reduce its personnel cost to 70 percent of the general fund.
Other highlights for 2013 that Thorne said the city could look forward to were more senior housing, creating a development map for the east side of the city and more planning for the expansion of Bernal Park.
"2013, Pleasanton's 119th year, will be its best yet," Thorne said.