April 3, 2012 > Fremont, 'a rather remarkable city'
Fremont, 'a rather remarkable city'
At a Fremont Chamber of Commerce meetingto install new officers and acknowledge contributions of its members on May 30, Fremont Mayor Gus Morrison gave a State of the City address. Acknowledging contributions of present and former councilmembers with special tribute to late Mayor Bob Wasserman, he noted that in the past year four others passed away including Jack Parry, Carl Flegel, Phil Lammy and Geoff Steel.
Emerging from "the worst depression since the 1930s," Morrison said that Fremont has been able to withstand the economic pressures due to "a marvelous staff." In the midst of this turmoil, basic services have been preserved through use of a "Budget Uncertainty Reserve" to maintain the $131 Million budget. The Mayor noted that "... this year it looks like we're going to come in on budget, and next year going on, we will not have to dip into reserves; we will be able to start recovering."
Revenues from property tax have stabilized and are anticipated to rise in the future with a better economic climate and new business development notably at "The Block" and a new movie theater near Pacific Commons. Sales tax revenue is enhanced by industrial development nearby. In order to properly address sustainability, Fremont has also looked at its own internal cost structure. As a result, some in-house procedures are now outsourced such as stocking parts at the corporation yard and others are being reviewed including landscape maintenance. Consolidation with other cities of emergency dispatch is also under review.
Loss of the City of Fremont Redevelopment Agency was a blow to the City's finances. Morrison recounted the successes of the Agency including access to the Pacific Commons area, undergrounding Bay Street utilities, Niles Plaza and others. Affordable Housing support is threatened but along with other Redevelopment projects and concerns, Morrison vowed "We can't stop, we have to keep going and our efforts are focusing on a new way of doing business, a new way of clean tech. We have the people, we have the facilities, we have the competitive lease rates and we're ready to move and to build the new world."
Future development is also a prime factor for Fremont with the Warm Springs development including a new BART station and what Morrison called the "old NUMMI site, but now the Tesla site." He commented that, "We have the unique opportunity to build a model, the model of a transit-oriented job center." Discussion of development also led to remarks about the "downtown" as a "lifestyle center"
The Mayor also reviewed Fremont's attention to sustainability and its unique population representative of cultures throughout the world. He said that Fremont used to represent people from all around the Bay and now represents people from all over the world. This group is exceptional in that they "came to give." Morrison summed up his assessment of Fremont as a population that has "come here because it is a great place to be, to live, to raise your kids; it's a great place to invest and to give to the future."
Speaking about the future of Fremont, Morrison noted its role in sustainable actions that address broad issues such as global warming, schools, transportation, recycling, transportation and safety. He closed with an upbeat assessment saying, "We can sustain ourselves if the depression doesn't end, but when it ends - and it is ending - we are prepared to ride that wave into the future to build Fremont as the kind of place we all dreamed it would be, and we're looking forward to that."
Full text, slides and webcast of the Mayor's speech is available at: http://www.fremont.gov/index.aspx?nid=1129