Editor’s Note: The Herald asked each of the eight City Council candidates the same four questions. Here are their responses.
1. What role should the city take in revitalizing the downtown?
Ken Broadway: The city must play an active role in revitalizing our downtown. Any effort will require the support and expertise of both the public and private sectors. An organized effort that is represented by business and property owners, bankers, citizens, public officials and the chamber of commerce will be required. A downtown with more people living there, shops, stores, restaurants and with offices along with attractions to bring people to the area is needed.
Dave Butler: Without redevelopment, the most important thing the city can do for downtown is create an environment in which private interests can invest in projects without unnecessary delay and with an ability to generate a return on that investment. To that end, the city’s fee structure must be competitive, our customer service must be superior and we need a plan that leverages our history, creates an attractive destination and provides a greater sense of community.
Dan DeFoe: City government should take the leadership role in working with the community to establish and execute a theme-based plan for the restoration of downtown. We should concentrate on heritage-based development –build on what we have our history and heritage – to create a regional destination. I also applaud and support the city manager’s central Rocklin BARRO program and would help to clear away bureaucratic layers that make it difficult for current businesses to apply for help.
Greg Janda: The city should actively recruit and encourage developers to revitalize downtown and continue to streamline the process, sending a clear message to economic development professionals that the city will be a positive partner. The attitude of the city must be proactive and helpful, finding ways to make things happen as opposed to reasons to stop them.
Jack Lento-Edrich: I believe that, to help the downtown, the city should give out lower-interest loans to help renovate stores. This will attract new businesses and consumers - if we want to encourage business, we need to lower the cost.
George Magnuson: The former Redevelopment Agency helped to make the downtown corridor more business-friendly by expanding Rocklin Road and Pacific Street from old two-lane roads to four-lane roads with sidewalks and curbs and extra on-street parking. Now that the state has done away with redevelopment, the city should work with private developers to revitalize the downtown by bringing in mixed-use projects that will have a mix of residential and commercial.
Julie Millard-Stadel: The city should not play the role of real estate developer. Its role is to protect the important historic downtown elements while facilitating and encouraging developers to create and rebuild a vital downtown.
Wijaya “VJ” Perera: The city should build the community support and find available funds for the downtown project and create public and private partnership, also start business promotional and advertising business activities for the public. The seminars for all inside and outside the Rocklin business owners and Rocklin citizens are designed to show the businesses and the economy growth after building the new downtown. The city should purchase the land for the allocated designed plan for the project.
2. What would you do as a council member to prepare police, fire and the city for the year 2030 as the community becomes built out and revenue hits a ceiling?
Broadway: As we move toward build-out, the community’s needs will change. We need to make sure the city has the appropriate staffing levels and expertise to meet those needs. According to the city general plan, residential land will be used up in 2030, but there will still be commercial and industrial land available for development for many years. We will need to keep working to bring businesses to Rocklin to help support city services.
Butler: First of all, the council must work now to ensure the city is living within its means, with a balanced budget that provides desired levels of service at an affordable cost. Looking ahead, I believe our best opportunity to enhance future revenue comes from growing our economic base without raising taxes. To do that, Rocklin must have a more competitive fee structure, superior customer service and a plan that grows existing and attracts new business.
DeFoe: If the council had done a better job building a stable sales tax base over the past 20 years, this question might be moot. Roseville has twice the population but five times our sales tax revenues. Rocklin deserves the best fire and police protection, and the city should pay enough to retain them, but as a councilman I will not support excessive pay hikes in the manner of previous councils, nor will I stand for pension-spiking.
Janda: The primary role of local government is to protect public safety. I am committed to making that my top priority and keeping Rocklin a safe community. To have the resources we need in the future, we must grow jobs and business in the community and operate on a budget that doesn’t rely on one-time fees from development, but puts us on a path of sustainable revenue.
Lento-Edrich: I propose making our police and fire stations more efficient by having outpost buildings around the city rather than a central depot.
Magnuson: Public safety is one of the primary concerns of most of Rocklin’s citizens. Our Police and Fire departments receive the majority of their funding from the general fund, which relies heavily on property and sales tax dollars. Property taxes will level off after development stops, so we must do everything we can to encourage commercial and retail development, as they will generate more sales taxes in the future.
Millard-Stadel: To prepare the city for the future, the best thing we can do is today is create a solid business base generating sales tax revenue. Twenty years happens quickly and this recession really has given us an opportunity to re-grow business in Rocklin. While doing so, we need make sure that compensation packages are fair and appropriate.
Perera: I will cut down spending (cut non-mandate expenses, stop all external contacts and nonprofit non-special activities the city provides to the community) and use community voluntary support for help to stop the city’s external work. I will also do the out sources work (contracting work) as in-house until the revenue is back to a strong position.
3. Right now, 65 percent of the city’s budget goes to personnel costs. Do you have any ideas for cost-saving measures?
Broadway: Implementation of a two-tier system with new employees placed in a reduced benefit tier and increased retirement ages along with requiring city employees to pay their share are key changes that will lead to controlling costs and securing savings. Outsourcing of work that can be completed by the private sector is another means for eliminating benefit, training and recruitment costs.
Butler: As an employer myself, I know that salary and benefits are not the only reason people join or stay with an organization. Recognition, flexibility, advancement and a sense of fulfillment are other forms of compensation employees value. I’d like us to position the city of Rocklin as an employer of choice while managing compensation and benefit costs. I’d also look to contract for some services and ensure existing contracts are regularly sent out for bid.
DeFoe: What portion of 65 percent goes to pay for inflated pensions? Our K-12 teachers are paid less than surrounding communities, but we remain competitive because of Rocklin school district’s excellent reputation. We must avoid excessive future pay hikes across the board and aggressively build our sales tax base.
Janda: Our city exists to serve the residents of Rocklin. Most of our spending is for people to deliver service to our residents, whether it is the police officer who keeps our streets safe or the individuals who process building permits for residents and business. We need to manage our budget responsibly, but I envision that a majority of our budget will always be focused on compensating people who provide services to our residents.
Lento-Edrich: I would ask each city personnel to take a small pay cut and ask leaders, like the fire chief, police chief and city manager, to take larger cuts from their larger salaries.
Magnuson: The costs of employees, in private industry or government, normally represent the largest expense of doing business. Rocklin has reduced the city’s paid staff from approximately 320 persons down to approximately 250. We should continue to look for ways to make the city more efficient. We also need to continue to reform pensions.
Millard-Stadel: Typically personnel costs are the biggest part of a company’s budget. Cost-saving measures might include trimming back or combining departments as the city builds out. An example could be consolidating planning, building and public works departments when the time is appropriate.
Perera: Stop all overtime, annual escalation of salaries, and freeze employees in hiring and promotions.
4. Why are you the best candidate for the job?
Broadway: I bring a balanced business and community perspective to the table. Public safety, economic development, parks and open space and our schools, along with being fiscally responsible, must all be factored into the decisions made by our council. I am willing to listen, understand that, if elected, I represent one vote and that I must work with the other council members to ensure they understand the merit of my ideas and that they are implemented.
Butler: I may not be “best” candidate but I do believe I’m one of the three most capable and qualified. Over the last 15 years, I have served and led at the intersection of business, government and community – working with cities and counties on a wide range of issues, including economic development, transportation, land use and regulatory reform. As my endorsements demonstrate, I am a trusted leader with proven experience and a track record of success.
DeFoe: Leadership. Independence. For 25 years I’ve been a professor of history and communication studies at Sierra college. I’ve written a history of Rocklin’s quarrying past. I have a unique perspective and as an independent I am positioned to be a bridge-builder between all parties, city and community. Rocklin deserves an independent voice on the City Council, one with the maturity, vision and knowledge of the community and its unique gifts.
Janda: My background as a long-time small business owner gives me important financial management skills and an understanding of business to promote economic development. I am well-connected in the community, having volunteered for business, sports and community organizations. I am educated on city government, regularly attend council meetings and have helped run the Leadership Rocklin program since 2005. I am open-minded, willing to work with everyone in Rocklin to improve our community in the years ahead.
Lento-Edrich: I believe that I am the best because I am young. Youth comes with a lack of preconceptions, which opens me up to new possibilities and ideas.
Magnuson: While the economy is improving, there are still uncertain economic times ahead. The city needs experienced leadership that does not need learning time to get up to speed. My 21 years of experience gives me the background and knowledge to understand what needs to be done and how to do it. I understand how the city operates, how the budget works and what state and federal laws impact us. That knowledge is vital.
Millard-Stadel: I am the best candidate for the job because I have ideas for solutions. It’s not enough to want fiscal responsibility, a new downtown, new businesses, etc. – one must have ideas and the drive and energy to make things happen. That’s what I will bring to the council.
Perera: I am a real estate agent, mechanical contractor and a small business owner AND I have over 28 total experiences of facility management and construction, operation and maintenance; I have constructed building, roads and installed mechanical and electrical systems to the facilities. I bring my experience to manage facilities. According to my experience and qualification, I could run city efficiently and smoothly.