TURLOCK — In his State of the City address, Mayor John Lazar didn't sugarcoat the continued economic distress that Turlock faces, but he pledged to guide the city through it and asked everyone to help.
"I am calling on all city employees, elected officials and community members to play an active role in moving Turlock through this difficult time and into the possibilities of a brighter future," he is to say at his annual address, offered at a Chamber of Commerce breakfast this morning. He provided an advance copy to The Bee.
Tickets to the breakfast cost $30.
"Based on the pool of talent, level of passion and unwavering commitment to our community, I am confident we will succeed," he says in the speech.
Despite drastic budget cutbacks that resulted in layoffs and an across-the-board 5 percent pay cut for city employees, Lazar said the city recorded some successes in 2009. Among them:
The Building Division issued 1,089 building permits with a total valuation of $34 million and conducted about 5,200 inspections.
The Engineering Department completed several projects, notably the renovation of Columbia Park on the city's west side. In the coming months, a water play area will be added.
The Traffic Division secured $1.7 million in stimulus funding for the construction of a new transit transfer center, now in the planning stages.
The Fire Department has secured grants to pay for equipment and conducted in-house training to save on those costs.
The Police Department, for the first time, is tracking and analyzing crime. This, Lazar said, allows the department to more effectively assign resources.
Lazar said the city will focus on economic development in the coming year. That means improving customer service in addition to making physical improvements that will attract businesses.
"We must treat each customer as if our future depends on it, because it truly does," Lazar said. "... We must adopt the adage of our private sector counterparts which proclaims 'The customer is king!' "
Read Lazar's State of the City address at www.ci.turlock.ca.us/government/stateofthecity.asp.