Journal: What successes did Turlock have in 2011?
John Lazar: Turlock had many successes this past year. I believe the main success has been not having to use $2.5 in reserves to balance our general fund this year. Through internal cuts, voluntary salary reductions by our staff, and better sales and property tax assessment revenue this year, our government books are in the black. I'm very proud of the team spirit of our community!
Journal: If you could change one thing from 2011, what would it be?
Lazar: The State of California from doing everything in its power to diminish local government, and in particular turn school districts against city and county government.
Journal: What major projects await the City of Turlock in 2012?
Lazar: Major projects include finding regional solutions for our long-term water and wastewater needs. Discussions will continue with our neighbors to address our most vital resource in the Valley: water.
Journal: If you could accomplish one realistic objective in 2012, what would it be?
Lazar: The one realistic objective for 2011 would be to address our deteriorating streets and roads. Turlock needs to have a real and immediate discussion with our citizens about how we will address this increasing significant problem. There are no funds flowing from the state or federal government to assist in this regard. I believe we are going to have to address it ourselves as a city.
Journal: What significant hurdles do you see the City of Turlock facing in 2012?
Lazar: The largest hurdle facing the city is the state's attack on our redevelopment agency. It is the only tool local government has to really complete identified public works, create jobs and sustain long-term economic development for those areas within a redevelopment district. Rather than fix the dysfunction in Sacramento they shift it to local communities and force us to cope with state government’s inability to govern properly.
Journal: Do you anticipate budget cuts in 2012?
Lazar: No. Through the leadership of our city manager, tough and smart decisions were made this past year to preserve city government. Our city employees and their bargaining groups came to the table in good faith and chose to work together for the betterment of each other. I am very proud and humbled by the good will of our employees to do the right thing!
Journal: In one sentence, summarize your outlook for 2012.
Lazar: Turlock will experience a slow but recognizable improvement in our local economy through the creation of jobs, expansion of business, and growth of its markets.