Vice-Mayor Lara DeLaney candidate Q & A part II

Here is part I of the candidate Q and A

Measure X, if it passes, would give the city some financial breathing room to address services and other needs. How do you feel about Measure X, what it would mean if it passes and what it would mean if it were to fail?

Measure X is critical to the fiscal solvency of the City, and consequently, critical to our quality of life in Martinez. So I am in support of the Measure and urge our voters to support it. While we have been able to achieve an unrestricted fund balance at 34% of the General Fund (our reserve policy requires that it be no lower than 20% with any excess set aside for capital improvements and paying down our pension liabilities), our most recent financial forecasts show revenues from sales and property taxes, which are our main revenue generators, vastly outstripped by an increase in costs due mainly to retirement expenses.

In order to continue to provide a high level of public safety, homeless services, maintenance of parks and public infrastructure, we will need additional revenue. The proposed ½ sales tax measure will generate approximately $3.2 million each year and will allow us to continue making strides in service delivery and infrastructure investment. The failure of Measure X would mean cuts to services, the loss of employees in both public safety and general services, an inability to attract high quality employees, and further deterioration of our infrastructure.

If elected, what personal significant project would you work to go forward with? Why is this project important to you?

The marina and waterfront area surrounding it remain our last “unpolished gem” in Martinez. So I look forward to working with the Council and the community to re-imagine the space and explore its potential. As a founding member of the “Joe DiMaggio Hometown Hero Project,” I am also looking forward to making additional strides forward on our goal to create a “Joe DiMaggio Museum,” a statue honoring Joe DiMaggio and his Italian fishing family roots, a mural, and a walking tour. The renovation of the Historic Train Depot may be a critical lynch-pin to this work.

How much growth do you think is appropriate for Martinez? What kind of growth and where should it take place?

Answering the question about “how much growth is appropriate” is fraught with challenges because it depends on a variety of factors. It depends on the kind and capacity of existing and future infrastructure to absorb the impacts of the development. For example, is there sufficient capacity in the local schools, in the water system, and on the streets and roads; if not, can accommodations be made in a reasonable timeframe?

Is the existing infrastructure oriented toward transit and pedestrian options for travel, or does it rely exclusively on auto transportation? In addition, are there problems with the existing infrastructure that will be exacerbated by growth? Will additional development strain the existing water reservoirs, main lines and pipes, or can it be a mechanism by which existing infrastructure is improved?

The “appropriate” amount of growth also depends on the direct and cumulative impacts of the development on the environment (air quality, biological resources, hydrology, etc.). Are there sufficient mitigation measures to address any significant impacts and will the implementation of those measures be adequately monitored? Growth must also be evaluated as to the impacts of a project on the character and aesthetics of the surrounding neighborhoods and even on the community as a whole.

The answer to this question also depends on the ability of the City (and the School Districts) to provide services to the new residents while maintaining service level expectations of existing residents. Will we have a sufficient number of police officers, fire fighters, road and park maintenance workers, code enforcement officers, and other city staff to serve residents? Or, are there existing service level shortfalls that need to be addressed? Other considerations include whether we have a sufficient number of parks and recreational opportunities to offer the new residents. Furthermore, does the growth provide opportunities for economic development or stimulation or does it simply strain existing resources.

One also needs to consider whether the development addresses the very real needs for housing in the community—at a variety of income levels–and for the types of housing that certain population segments are seeking. For example, younger adults may be looking for starter homes or apartments, while older adults may be looking to trade up or to scale back.

Martinez is fundamentally an in-fill community, where the opportunities for growth are limited to areas within our borders. The annexation of areas surrounding the City may be another opportunity area for growth, but all of the questions elucidated above must be taken into consideration when contemplating growth through annexation—particularly with respect to infrastructure and service levels.

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