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City staff and council prudently shepherd budget

Another View
By: Mike Holmes, Mayor, City of Auburn
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As I mentioned in my last report to you, the City of Auburn is in relatively good economic health compared to some of the other cities in Placer County. We have prudently put funds in reserve over the past few years for just such a contingency. However, we face a serious challenge in the months ahead as this recession deepens. The city council and staff are continuously evaluating our budget projections and spending options. One of the major decisions this city council will be making in the next few weeks is whether to approve the upgrade of our current wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) or continue to work toward the regional option of connecting with the proposed regional WWTP in Lincoln. Cost is a major factor in making this decision. Estimated cost to upgrade our local plant is $11 million, while the regional cost could be as high as $66 million for the City of Auburn. I would like to see this voted on during our March 23rd council meeting. Should the council move forward on upgrading the local plant a number of jobs will be created in the near future. One thing that became clear from my “economic summit” in January was that we need to promote the Auburn area more aggressively to attract more visitors to enjoy the many historic parts of the community and re-emphasize that Auburn is the Endurance Capital of the World. Several groups are working to help organize a number of events designed to attract more visitors. The middle of May will see an Endurance Expo staged in our new Auburn School Park Preserve; a local bicycle race promoted by Victory Velo in Downtown Auburn; and another group is working on a Building-Antenna-Span-Earth (BASE) jumping event at the Foresthill Bridge. During the Spring Home Show at the Gold Country Fairgrounds Council Member Bill Kirby and I are working on a shuttle bus service for visitors to experience our Downtown and Old Town areas. We will encourage local businesses to offer coupon discounts for purchases or meals in local establishments. Our fire chief, Councilmember Kevin Hanley and I recently met with representatives of the U. S. Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) which has the federal responsibility for fire protection on the American River canyon. The bureau has not renewed its contact with Cal Fire regarding fire protection in the canyon. Should a wildland fire occur existing agencies will respond under mutual aid agreements. The City of Auburn will work toward a cooperative agreement with the bureau which will help us maintain the shaded fuel break we have been working on the past few years. Installation of the water system in the East Hangar Project at the Auburn Airport is almost complete. The city council has approved the lease of the land for the first row of hangars to be built by a private investor. Another group is organizing to lease another row for hangar construction. The dedication of a new Boys & Girls Club facility at E.V. Cain School took place a few days ago. The facility will give the club its own presence on campus and was completed under a cooperative agreement between the club and the City of Auburn using a Community Development Block Grant of $500,000. In an annual report to the city council the fire chief provided information regarding the number of fire department responses in 2008. The total number of incidents was 1,824, an increase from last year. The vast majority of the call outs (over 73 percent) were for medical or rescue purposes. Less than 6 percent were for actual fires. The Auburn Youth Advisory Commission was highlighted in the February-March 2009 issue of the Placer County Water agency’s PCWA UPDATE. These young men and women will be working with the youth of the community to emphasize the importance of water efficiency in the home and workplace. The goal is to be prepared for participation in May’s California Water Awareness Month. Mike Holmes is mayor of the City of Auburn.