This Week at City Hall - Facing Our Fiscal Challenges
03/13/2012
Facing Our Fiscal Challenges
 
Despite a series of difficult cuts to address $100 million in budget shortfalls since 2009, the City of Fresno remains in several financial distress that requires immediate action.  As a result, Mayor Ashley Swearengin and City Manager Mark Scott on March 12 outlined a Fiscal Sustainability Policy that details a comprehensive series of actions required to meet both short-term cash flow challenges and address long-term structural budget issues.
 
Mayor Swearengin said the City’s fiscal sustainability requires funding core services first, eliminating all negative fund balances, and restoring at least minimal emergency and maintenance/replacement reserves within 10 years. 
 
The administration will present a workshop on the policy at the March 22 meeting of Fresno City Council and will ask Council to adopt the policy at its March 29 meeting.
 
The policy calls for a number of immediate actions, including:
  • Conducting a public review of City financial records and immediate cash flow projections to provide complete transparency for the public and interested stakeholders;
  • Evaluating all options to reducing costs of health and welfare benefits;
  • Evaluating all options to reducing retirement costs;   
  • Reducing paid leave balances; and,
  • Directing the City Manager to contact labor representatives and request “meet and confer.”
A news release about the Fiscal Sustainability Policy, a copy of the Policy, and the PowerPoint used at the administration’s news conference is available at www.fresno.gov/
 
Fresno Food Expo a Huge Success
 
By nearly every measure, the bigger, better Fresno Food Expo last week turned out to be a smashing success.
 
Exhibitors from 86 San Joaquin Valley food and wine companies were able to display their products to more than 400 local, regional, national and international buyers during the business-to-business portion of the event.  That’s up from 66 exhibitors and 200 buyers last year. When the doors opened to the public, almost 700 Valley residents were able to taste and discover the products that have helped make Fresno and the San Joaquin Valley the undisputed food capital of the world.
 
We’re already starting to get positive feedback from some of the exhibitors.  Here is a sampling of what we’ve already heard:
 
Marsha Eichholtz, Doug-Out Cookies:  “Our experience was just SUPER! We got to talk to the people we were interested in meeting.  Even though most of the people were already familiar with our cookies, it is always a boost to the ego to watch ‘new’ people taste them for the first time! “
 
Debi Franklin, Deb’s Gourmet:“What a wonderful Expo this year. I am so proud to be a part of the Fresno Food Expo. I did not have one negative comment made about my product. It was so exciting to have several people come up to me and say they are ready to help distribute my peppers and also several local specialty stores in our area are going to be carrying them, too.”
 
Roberto Avila, Borges USA – Star Fine Foods:  “Being headquartered in Fresno, we found the greatest value for us in participating was showing our community that we are located here in Fresno and that we also produce a California EVOO made right here in the Central Valley. Many people were surprised to learn that the olive oil brand they have bought for so many years was headquartered in their own backyard.”
 
Barbara Martin, Dairy Goddess Farmstead Cheese: “This event for me, a small and new business, was a big investment for me. It was my first ‘show’. It was way beyond my expectations and I feel that my investment was worth every penny. It put me in a position to showcase my cheese and speak with people I never would have thought I would speak to.”
 
Dan Soleno, La Tapatia Tortilleria: “I was surprised! I had three exporters come by our booth that are interested in taking our tortilla chips abroad -- one exporter to the Middle East, one to India and another to China.   On the domestic sales, the show gave us an opportunity to refresh our relationships with our current customers that attended. On the food service side we met a buyer from a restaurant chain that we currently do not service and a major prison buyer interested in our Individual size tortilla chips.”
 
Many thanks to the hard-working partners who made the event such a huge success, including MJR Creative Group, Cohen Communications, David Nalchaljian, Inc., the Fresno Food Expo Advisory Committee, and Amy Huerta, the City’s local business initiatives manager.
 
Mayor Swearengin to Participate in White House Session on SC2 Initiative
 
Mayor Ashley Swearengin will join mayors from five other cities at the White House this week to discuss the Strong Cities, Strong Communities (SC2) initiative, an effort to enhance economic growth in local communities.
 
The session will include panel discussions on the major challenges facing America’s cities and how these challenges can be addressed through SC2 and other partnerships.  The session will help sharpen the focus of SC2 and generate new collaborations that will benefit America’s cities.
 
In addition to the mayors, the session will include philanthropic, foundation and anchor institution leaders.
 
In Fresno, the SC2 interagency collaboration is supporting the Mayor’s plans for economic development and downtown revitalization.
 
Fresno was one of six cities selected for the initiative.  Other cities are Chester, Pennsylvania; Cleveland, Ohio; Detroit, Michigan; Memphis, Tennessee; and New Orleans, Louisiana.
 
Mayor Swearengin’s Activities
 
While some of these activities outlined below are not public meetings, these are some of the issues being addressed this week by Mayor Swearengin:
  • Meeting with U.S. Department of Labor Assistant Secretary Bill Spriggs to discuss issues of mutual interest;
  • Conducting meetings related to the high-speed rail project;
  • Speaking to Bakke Graduate University students from around the world who are studying urban transformation.
‘Go Green and Clean’ at Holmes Park
 
The “Go Green and Clean” park beautification program will be held at Holmes Park, 212 S. First, on Saturday, March 17.
 
In the program, volunteers participate in basic park care through litter removal, flower bed raking, pruning, painting, graffiti removal and other light tasks from 8 a.m. to noon.
 
Volunteers are encouraged to wear long pants, hats, gloves and sun block and bring plenty of drinking water. Basic work tools and supplies will be provided by the City of Fresno.  Each volunteer will be required to complete a volunteer form and waiver.
 
This Week’s Meetings
 
Here are city-related meetings this week:
  • District 1 Plan Implementation Committee, City Hall Room 3078, Tuesday, March 13, 4-5 p.m.
  • Tower District Plan Implementation Committee, City Hall Room 3078, Wednesday, March 14, 4-5 p.m.
  • Housing and Community Development Commission, City Hall Room 2165, Wednesday, March 14, 5-6 p.m.
Follow Mayor Swearengin, City of Fresno on Twitter
 
For up-to-date information on happenings related to the City of Fresno, follow Mayor Swearengin on Twitter @MayorSwearengin or the City of Fresno @CityofFresno.