The City of Colton experienced many achievements in 2017, and may have more in the upcoming year, explained Mayor Richard DeLaRosa.
IECN had the chance to sit with DeLaRosa on Tuesday to receive his perspective on the city’s issues with crime, homelessness, and its fiscal budget.
What are some of the biggest accomplishments you believe the City of Colton achieved in 2017?
DeLaRosa: The number one accomplishment is keeping a balanced budget. We’re continuing to provide the services that we told residents they would get. But we’re also building a strong reserve. I believe it currently stands at approximately $4.5 million. We also have other agencies/cities who recognize us as a place on the move. Lastly, our police department is being built up. It’s not at full strength yet, but we’re getting there. We’re being told that our city has some of the lowest crime rates, and that’s good. That attracts developers looking to come here.
How is the city currently dealing with issues of crime, poverty, and homelessness?
DeLaRosa: We’re not ignoring the fact that homelessness is a big issue. Again, crime in our city is it at an all time low for our demographics and income. By adding more police positions, we’ve directed our city manager [Bill Smith] and police chief [Mark Owens] to move forward with a homeless detail and neighborhood watch program–essentially a multiple enforcement team–to focus on these issues. Issues with gangs, street racing, and homelessness are all real problems that will be addressed on real time.
Is the city more financially stable than it was two years ago? With Measure D winding slowly, are you and the Council seeking other alternatives to generate much needed revenue?
DeLaRosa: Of course we are more financially stable. But are we where we need to be? No. We’re not. We need to focus on what our strengths are, and right now that’s the west end. We have major stakeholders, such as Arrowhead Regional Medical Center that understand there is valuable land out there for residential and commercial. That will bring property and sales tax and development fees. All that together will help us move forward. But if we’re too restrictive on development…if we’re not open for business, it’s going to take a long time to develop our city.
What are your priorities for 2018?
DeLaRosa: To make sure we have a plan to provide the same or improved services and maintain an adequate reserve. We have to spend money. I’m a firm believer that we can’t leave money just sitting there. What I believe we need to do is have a plan for the eventual sunsetting of Measure D. It’s important we identify a plan that the city, residents, and businesses could live with.
Are you seeking another four year term as Mayor?
DeLaRosa: I am considering it. But that will only depend if the Council and I could identify a plan to maintain the current levels of service. I intend to present a plan, a sales or utility user tax, that will replace Measure D as a revenue source. Another thing we could do to save money is to possibly reduce the City Council down to five members. We’re talking about a $60,000 savings if we do take that route.