Turlock Mayor Amy Bublak gave thanks to the many city employees, as well as read off accomplishments made this year that included road projects, battling homelessness and expanding the police department during her annual State of the City address on Thursday.
The address was given in front of a large crowd Thursday morning at Harvest Church’s downtown Turlock campus. The event was moved from the council chambers where a smaller crowd gathered because of the pandemic.
“As your mayor, I will continue to work every day to make Turlock, California the greatest place to live,” said Bublak. “The challenges we will face in the coming years as a community are many, but we have overcome challenges in the past, and we will do so again.”
One of Bublak’s first remarks was to acknowledge new city manager Reagan Wilson.
“We're very excited that our new city manager Regan Wilson has completed a smart reorganization of city departments for the efficient and responsive delivery of services to our residents,” she said. “As part of his reorganization plan, Mr. Wilson has appointed several new, well qualified department heads.”
Those new department heads include: Deputy City Manager Sarah Eddie, Finance Director Isaac Moreno, Police Chief Jason Heddon, Fire Chief Chris Jelinek, City Clerk Julie Crystal, Director of Development Services Katie Quintero, Director of Human Resources Jessie Dhami and Public Works Director Eric Schultz.
She then went on to explain how the city used funds to delay a garbage rate increase that was prompted by state policy decisions.
“As many of you know, our state government instituted an unfunded mandate, changing how all cities recycle home and business garbage,” said Bublak. “This new process has caused monthly garbage rates throughout the state to increase by as much as 100 percent. Rather than asking our Turlock residents to pay a 50 percent increase in monthly fees; over the next five years, your City Council voted to use American Rescue Plan Act, ARPA funds, to delay the fee increase for the next five years by using ARPA funds to cover the increased costs for monthly garbage and trash service.”
ARPA funds have been used to fund Columbia Pool repairs, public safety and city staffing, RAD card local shopping incentive program, employee wellness coaching, and local business one-on-one assistance as well. The City is considering spending the remaining $4 million on items such as, assisting the homeless, infrastructure and taking action to prevent cyber warfare.
She went on to praise Turlock residents for passing Measure A, which increased sales tax by three quarters of a cent.
“Those funds, combined with prudent fiscal management, have allowed the City of Turlock to move forward with a number of top priorities, including operating with a balanced budget for the third consecutive year and implementing the Turlock Roads Initiative to fix roads,” said Bublak.
The City currently has plans for 13 road improvement projects, and two more that will be completed in the 2023 fiscal year. After these 15 roads are completed, the City Council will develop a plan to repair all the roads over the next several years.
Bublak also touted the City Council for developing a plan to address the homeless population in Turlock that includes: Eliminating unsafe homeless encampments, providing temporary shelter and social services to those in need.
“The plan relies on a wide range of approaches that will be measured and judged on actual effectiveness to improve the lives of the unsheltered homeless while respecting the rights of both the unsheltered community and Turlock residents,” she said.
She also said that the Turlock Police and Fire Departments are now fully staffed and have gotten updated equipment.
“By fully staffing both our fire and police departments and providing them new vehicles and needed supplies, both agencies will be more successful in keeping our residents safe,” Bublak said.
Finally, Bublak praised City partnerships with local organizations to help business owners navigate post pandemic.
“We have contracted with Opportunity Stanislaus, a leading economic development organization and The Valley Sierra Small Business Development Center to assist us in helping Turlock businesses grow and use e-commerce and social media,” she said.
She closed with setting out some goals for the upcoming year that included negotiating a more favorable property tax rate, continuing fiscal management and roads initiatives, providing safe communities for the sheltered and the unsheltered and developing accessible housing for seniors and qualifying low-income residents.