Happy New Year to all the residents of Selma. I wanted to report to you about the state of the city and relate some thoughts about the future. On the economic front, the city continues to grow and make solid strides.
Sales tax for the city was up in 2015 due to a robust economy and an increase in retail sales in Selma. New businesses continue to move to Selma. Economic development is the city council's #1 priority, and I am looking forward to more businesses opening and a greater number of services for our citizens. Economic growth is so strong that even the fourth year of drought could not stop the construction of single family housing such as the Vineyard Estates and new businesses from opening or expanding. For the first time in several years the city was able to give well-deserved raises across the board to all employee groups. We are proud of our incredibly devoted and hard working folks who keep our city running.
The lawsuit with CID which stifled commercial growth for seven years ended, which has freed up Rockwell Pond to be developed. A part of it will also be used as a recharge basin to replenish our city's aquifer. Look for a car dealership to open there and a regional mall to follow. A park is also in development to be located there, and I thank the citizens who came to City Hall to brainstorm about how they would like their park to look. To facilitate this growth and lessen the impact on traffic, a Dinuba Road overpass is beginning to make its way through the design, approval and construction stages. A new sewer line from Golden State to McCall along Dinuba will free up construction of single family homes in the northern part of the city. In 2018 Measure C money will completely renovate the Golden State Highway from Fowler through Selma to Kingsburg.
Though crime is statistically down, we have had two murders in our city since the summer. I will not sugar coat this hard reality, but gangs are a reality plaguing all cities in Fresno County. Our police department works on a limited budget to fight crime and protect us. We need to do our part as citizens to band together to take back our neighborhoods. I recently met with two brave citizens who are in the formative stages of organizing a neighborhood watch in their neighborhood to regain control of where they live. The fact is even if the city could put twice as many cops on the street, they would not be as effective at preventing and reducing crime as an alert, involved population watching out for each other and reporting anything and anyone who shouldn't be around their neighborhood to the police. For the first year since 2008 the city has been able to set aside Measure S money for the construction of a new police station. Previously the funds in Measure S were going toward paying the salaries of Selma's public safety personnel, but now with better economic times and higher sales tax receipts, the city is able to set aside a portion of those funds for public safety infrastructure.
Our city has undergone positive change since 2012 through the hard work and commitment of its employees and representatives who are motivated for success. To turn around a city which was stagnant for so long, it is important to run the city's finances in a businesslike way while always taking account of the human element in every decision in an attempt to achieve the greatest benefit for the greatest number of people. We are fortunate to have a city manager with so much city experience and background as a construction company owner. Selma is in building mode now, and it is a positive to have someone experienced in construction evaluating and negotiating projects.
I was honored to be elected by the majority of city council members last year to serve as your mayor. It has been an enormously rewarding experience working to make the city better and meeting with so many of you to discuss the state of our city and what can be done to improve the experience of living and working here. I have found that being in city government is like a lot of things: you get out of it what you put into it. I have a vision of the city's economic development that will benefit the residents from all parts of town, businesses and city employees. This will come about by growing the economic pie to increase revenues so that the city can spend money on those things that enhance the quality of life in a town such as parks and jogging/bike paths. I thank each and everyone of you who have visited, emailed or called me with your suggestions, complaints and encouragement.
My door is always open at 1948 High St in Selma, which is where my business is located, and I invite anyone who would like to engage in productive discussion about the city to visit. We may not always agree, but I promise I will listen.
The occasional criticism goes with the territory of holding public office, and it will not deter me from trying to make our city a better place to live and work. Roger Orosco in his recent letters to the Enterprise appears to be blaming me, among others, for his recall from the Selma School Board. It was the overwhelming majority of voters who held Orosco accountable for his actions as school board trustee by recalling him from office, not any one person. It is time for Mr. Orosco to take his own advice and take responsibility for his actions instead of blaming others for the results of them.
I wish everyone a safe and happy 2016.
Mayor, City of Selma