The city of Merced assessed on Monday a number of its major accomplishments in 2012.
City officials presented a progress report on the 10 goals prioritized by the City Council in January.
"I think staff has made some great strides in addressing all the council's projects much better than I was anticipating, given the aggressive nature of the projects," said City Manager John Bramble.
The following is a short synopsis of the progress report, which was submitted to the City Council on Monday, as each goal stands.
The first goal was to revise development fees to make the city more competitive, while maintaining funding for capital projects.
In response, the city recently approved an ordinance reducing public facilities impact fees an average of 55 percent to 57 percent. The reductions are scheduled to go into effect Feb. 1.
The fees can be safely reduced because growth in the city has dramatically decreased in recent years, according to officials. The city plans to scale back several projects, including plans to build fire stations, parks and bikeways.
The second goal was to establish a revised economic development plan.
The city appointed Frank Quintero, the former head of the Parks and Recreation Department, to work full-time on economic development, and the City Council enthusiastically adopted Quintero's updated Economic Development Action Plan.
A week later, the city announced the addition of a processing plant that's expected to bring about 100 seasonal and 30 full-time jobs. The new White Oak frozen-food processing plant, which is relocating from Newman, is expected to be completed by the end of the year.
The third goal was to prepare a two-year financial plan to balance the city's budget.
The adopted 2012-13 fiscal year budget used about $300,000 in general fund reserves. Officials are hoping that concessions by public employees will allow for a completely balanced budget next year.
Fund reserves stand at about $6.6 million. Five years ago the city had about $17 million in savings. Last fiscal year, the city used $2 million in reserve funds.
The fourth goal was to conduct an evaluation of Operation Cease Fire and develop a proposed budget.
Recently the city helped organize a public meeting with community leaders from Sacramento, who helped put together a cease-fire program in their area.
The city has pledged to apply for a California Gang Reduction, Intervention and Prevention grant next year.
The fifth goal was to create a strategy for promoting downtown as a culture and entertainment district.
The opening of the rejuvenated Merced Theatre, as well as a soon-to-come hookah lounge and other restaurants and bars has signaled a potential revival of the city center, according to city officials.
The sixth goal was to implement a Climate Action Plan.
After years of work, the council adopted a plan Oct. 1 that significantly revised the prior plan. Under the adopted plan, almost all language requiring action on behalf of the city was eliminated. At the same time, a goal to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions to 20 percent less than the state mandate was removed.
The city is perusing a Programmatic Climate Action Planning grant, which should help the city streamline environmental reviews of future projects.
The seventh goal was to complete negotiations for public improvement mitigation projects required of UC Merced.
As the university expands it will be required to do improvement projects to intersections and participate in the construction of major thoroughfares.
The details of that agreement were scheduled to be completed by July. However, more time may be needed, according to city officials.
The eighth goal was to revise a revenue sharing agreement with Merced County.
Negotiations will likely not be settled by the Oct 31 timeline. However, city officials say progress is being made on a new agreement.
The ninth goal was to amend the city charter related to the date of city elections.
The issues will be ready for City Council review with the City Attorney by February.
The 10th goal was to establish a north-south bicycle transportation corridor.
The city is finishing a final design of bike lanes planned for south Merced and downtown, which are expected to be ready in December. The project is expect to go out to bid in February.
The City Council will revisit its goals and priorities at a special meeting Feb. 22 and Feb. 23.
Reporter Joshua Emerson Smith can be reached at (209) 385-2486 or firstname.lastname@example.org.