June 4, 2013 > Milpitas State of the City
Milpitas State of the City
By Frank Addiego
Mayor Jose Esteves of Milpitas delivered the State of the City address at the Milpitas Community Center May 30th about fiscal responsibility and the need to make unpopular but necessary decisions. "If I have a theme for my comments today," he said, "it's about reality check."
"Tonight, we have come together and see what's going on in the city of Milpitas," he said to a capacity crowd at the community center. "We have weathered the storm, and now find ourselves in a better position than we've ever been in."
Like most Bay Area cities, Milpitas has faced tough times with a deficit budget. The City was forced to cut many programs, while maintaining its commitment to safety, safe roads, clean parks and job creation "We had to have reductions in police and fire protection," said the mayor.
"I don't think the cuts were unreasonable," said Milpitas Chief of Police Steve Pangelinan, "I think the mayor's points were very well-taken... I'm certainly proud to be part of his management team." During the address, Mayor Esteves announced that despite cuts, emergency response time has achieved a two-year low.
The mayor and city council were not above cuts themselves. According to the mayor, council salaries were cut by 10 percent. Medical benefits were also cut. "When we have a burden, we share it as well," he said.
While the City's financial rating has greatly improved, Milpitas still faces many hurdles including a lawsuit from Santa Clara County, which the mayor called a "major challenge." The suit alleges that the City transferred funds of over $150 million from redevelopment purposes to another fund. "Although this is a wait and see situation, this will not affect the annual budget."
As a result of cuts, many projects are on hold, including a hotel, new parks, a new elementary school and affordable housing for seniors. However, the planned BART extension is still due to be completed in 2006 or 2007.
While most of those in attendance appeared enthusiastic about the State of the City address, one of Esteves' most ardent critics, Rob Means, vocal at many council meetings and a candidate for mayor against Esteves in 2012, said, "He thinks [cutting city employees] is a good idea. I don't." When asked about Means' presence at the meetings, Esteves said, "I believe in two sides of the coin. I always want to see the other side."