LIVERMORE -- As Livermore's tax revenues continue their post-recession upswing, the city is looking to encourage new business and achieve long-term financial stability, Mayor John Marchand announced during the annual State of the City address.
At a town-hall meeting last week attended by about 80 people at the Livermore Public Library, Marchand discussed new development, including the Phase-II expansion of the Livermore Premium Outlets mall and proposed fixed base operator facility at the Livermore Airport, and gave an update on the progress of BART to Livermore.
During his presentation, Marchand called maintaining the city's quality of life his "top priority." Property and sales tax revenues are on the rise, he said, after dropping a combined 26-percent during the recessionary years. With the added dollars, the city is looking to pay off its long-term liabilities and chip away at $236 million in deferred maintenance.
"We're gradually catching up," Marchand said.
According to Assistant City Manager Troy Brown, revenue from sales taxes rose from $16.7 million in 2010-11 to $21.7 million in 2012-13.
One big factor for the increase, Marchand said, is the Livermore Premium Outlets, which has created 2,000 jobs since it opened in November and generates $2 million in annual sales tax. A planned expansion would add up to 80 more stores and about 800 jobs, he said.
"It's going to be bigger and better," Marchand said.
Addressing regional transportation, Marchand expressed support for BART to Livermore, and its potential to create thousands of jobs and allow for greater access to the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and Livermore Valley Open Campus. The proposed BART station, he said, would be located off Isabel Road, about a half-mile south of Interstate 580, and tied into the Altamont Commuter Express. Marchand added that he's working on details for another go at a countywide sales tax measure, readying it in time for the 2014 November ballot. A similar transportation measure that included $400 million for the BART extension was narrowly defeated in November. The new proposed initiative, he said, would not require a tax increase in perpetuity.
"If we had BART to Livermore, that would take 25,000 cars off the freeway," he said.
Taking questions from the audience, Marchand added the city is interested in adding parking downtown and is considering pay parking for evening events, using the revenue to build a new parking structure. The city will be conducting a parking study over the next six to eight months, Community Development Director Stephan Kiefer said.
Regarding public safety, Marchand said the city had reallocated $7 million to police, enabling the restoration of the Drug and Gang Task Force, which Police Chief Mike Harris said has already had a positive impact on fighting related crimes. The city has hired seven officers since last year, and will add three more this fiscal year.
On the economic development front, Marchand emphasized shopping local and promoted recent additions to downtown, including the Casse-Croûte Bakery, Patxi's Pizza, and Royal Afghan Cuisine, along with new or expanding businesses like Working Man Brewing Company and Xpedx Paper. Livermore Toyota, Denica's Cafe, and Panera/Chipotle are all scheduled to open this fall, he said.
While discussing the proposed administration building at the Livermore Airport, with a restaurant, more amenities for pilots, and an expanded terminal, Marchand took a moment to quash rumors of air traffic growth.
"There is no jet port coming to Livermore," he said.
The mayor also praised the success of the recent Little League Intermediate World Series, and defended the city's decision to skip the Amgen Tour of California in 2014. Marchand said although hotels were packed for this year's race, some downtown merchants complained about the crowd. The city is participating in 60 special events this year, he said, and with 100 fewer city employees since 2009, "volunteer fatigue" has set in. Marchand said he will form a cycling committee to look at alternate locations and ways of hosting the event in the future.
"It may come back, but we'll take a year off to think about it," he said.
Contact Jeremy Thomas at 925-847-2184. Follow him at Twitter.com/jet_bang.