2006 State of the City Speech
City of Modesto
Given by Mayor Jim Ridenour
January 9, 2006
Good morning! What a wonderful opportunity to be gathered together with
family, friends, members of the community, and most of all the students of Beyer
I appreciate the opportunity to speak to you today. First, I want to
recognize my wonderful wife Renee. She is a great companion, friend, and source
of strength for me. I appreciate her willingness to allow me to serve you as
Mayor of the City of Modesto.
I would also like to recognize the Vice Mayor for 2006, Will O’Bryant and my
fellow Council Members who have joined us today. Councilmembers, please stand.
Please join me in thanking them for the hard work and service they render to the
citizens of Modesto.
Also, please help me in recognizing our city department leaders and key
employees. These are the folks who keep the city running and provide the
services that you have come to expect from the City of Modesto.
I enjoy presenting State of the City remarks at local high schools because it
allows me to involve you in the civic affairs of our city. More importantly, I
hope that these brief remarks will in some way serve to recruit you as a
stakeholder in the community and inspire you to contribute in a meaningful way
to our wonderful city.
I value each and every one of you, and appreciate the work of the teachers
and administrators here at Beyer and other schools. It takes many moving parts
to make our community vibrant and prosperous, but there is nothing more
important than the foundation achieved through a quality education.
When we refer to youth, we often talk about the future accomplishments. I
have even done so in this speech. Although, I know that many great things will
be accomplished by the youth in the future, please let me tell you about some of
the successes Modesto youth have already experienced:
- Back in May, members of the Youth Commission held a Safe Routes to School
assembly for the students at Garrison Elementary. Commission members organized
the assembly and provided instruction to educate the students of Garrison
Elementary on how to be safe as they walk to school and how to utilize the newly
installed lighted crosswalk. This not only gave the Youth Commission the
opportunity to serve but it also gave them the opportunity to develop improved
communication skills and confidence.
- Another success was the Commission’s involvement in the Teen Alcohol
Prevention Program (TAPP). Members of the Youth Commission provided advice and
encouragement to students who by avoiding alcohol abuse are improving their
chances of a positive future. These students planned and carried out a poster
contest for the youth attending seven afterschool programs. They also wrote and
directed a play that was performed at Bret Harte Elementary School’s afterschool
- It is my goal to continue encouraging the young people of our community.
With that in mind, the City of Modesto will continue to sponsor Youth in
Government Day which has had tremendous success. In 2005, over 180 student
representatives from local high schools met with the Modesto City Council,
Stanislaus County Board of Supervisors, and City and County department leaders
and employees to gain an up-close look at local government in action. I will
continue this program to allow students to learn how to give back to their
- I am pleased to announce that the remodel/expansion of the Maddux Youth
Center is almost complete! When finished, the Center will nearly double in size
and will contain a computer room, multi-purpose room, offices, Police Athletic
League boxing arena, restrooms and a kitchenette. The remodel includes a
refurbished gymnasium with a new hardwood floor, a workout room, reading room
and game room. The Maddux Youth Center is expected to open by May of this year.
It will be a beautiful asset for the community and will serve the youth of
Modesto for many years to come.
When I first sought to become the Mayor of Modesto, I set some pretty
ambitious goals. I even put those goals together in a book. You may not be
keeping track of the goals I outlined in the book, but I am. I plan to see these
goals pursued, if not fulfilled outright. I cannot do it alone; it will require
the help of my fellow council members, city staff, and community members.
One of the goals was to increase the construction and repair of roads.
Although, there is still much to be done, a tremendous amount of work has
already been completed. We are moving forward and making progress! In fact,
between 2005 and 2007 over $29 million has been or will be spent on major road
construction projects. While much of the work is funded through developer impact
fees, thankfully State transportation money has been reinstated for use. We will
make use of state and federal grants and gas tax dollars to augment other
funding for road projects in the years ahead. Here are some examples of the
- Last summer Coffee Road between Sylvan and Mable was reconstructed and
- The widening of Briggsmore Avenue from Oakdale to Claus Road from two-lanes
to four-lanes is well underway and should be completed soon.
- This spring Floyd Avenue will be widened between Oakdale Road and Roselle Avenue
- This summer you will see construction begin on Pelandale Avenue to widen it
from two lanes to six lanes from Dale Road to McHenry Avenue. This construction
will also include the installation of signal lights at Prescott Road, Carver
Road, and Tully Road and will help to alleviate the traffic congestion that
occurs along that roadway on a daily basis
- This year the intersection of Prescott Road and Snyder Avenue will be widened and will also include a signal light
I am excited to see the amount of work that is being done. We are making
significant progress in correcting the traffic congestion in Modesto. However,
despite this progress, our streets and roadways will still be lacking.
Consequently, this year you will see a push to place a one-half cent
Transportation Sales Tax Measure on the November 2006 Ballot.
Before I was elected, I stated that I would only support such a tax if it
were absolutely necessary. I believe that it is necessary. Historically, there
has been inadequate investment in roads and streets. Compounding the problem,
was the State’s withholding of transportation funds from our city and developer
fees did not keep pace with increased costs of roads and bridges. The one thing
we have direct control over, developer fees, have been regularly increased which
offset the cost of making the needed roadway improvements.
Some may say that before we try to proceed with the transportation sales tax
measure we need to first work more diligently to receive help from the State and
Federal Government. This approach seems intuitive to most people, but the
reality for transportation funding is that the state and federal governments are
more prone to approve projects that have local matching dollars. Projects
demonstrating full funding take precedence over partially funded projects simply
because the work gets done now providing taxpayers with immediate benefit at the
WORK WITH FEDERAL AND STATE GOVERNMENT
Working with State and Federal elected officials has been my goal from day
one. I have made great strides in meeting with our elected officials to let them
know about the needs of the City of Modesto. While this effort is worthwhile and
has paid dividends, it alone is not adequate.
Last year, in federal funds alone the City of Modesto received $400,000 for
law enforcement technology improvements, $500,000 for our bus maintenance
facility, $14.4 million for State Route 132 improvements, and $3 million for the
Virginia Corridor. Additionally, $5.6 million was received for State Route 219
improvements. I would like to thank Senator Feinstein, Senator Boxer,
Congressman Cardoza, and Congressman Radanovich for their tremendous support in
helping bring funds to our region.
I would also like to thank State Senator Denham, State Senator Poochigian,
Assembly member Aghazarian, and Assembly member Cogdill for their support in
having Proposition 42 transportation funds restored.
FOCUSED ON BEING FISCALLY RESPONSIBLE
During the last budget cycle, the City Council was forced to make difficult
budget decisions. These decisions were not easy and we did not enjoy making
them, but the decisions have resulted in helping the City conserve financial
reserves for true emergencies and holding spending to that which we could
afford. As a result of these fiscally prudent decisions and improved revenues
through increased property tax assessments and early return of tax dollars from
the State of California, the City’s financial situation has improved. Because of
this, we are able to add back resources for public safety and our urban forestry
unit. In fact, the City is in the process of hiring 12 firefighters and 11
While we set the goal of a balanced budget by fiscal year 2006/2007, we were
able to balance our budget one year earlier. I am proud to report that for the
first time in five years on-going revenues cover on-going expenses. Council has
adopted a policy to only use one-time revenues on one-time expenses such as road
repairs and vehicle purchases.
Last year, the City Council approved contracting out for parks maintenance
services. This will result in more frequent care of our parks at a reduced cost
to taxpayers. It also allowed the city to consolidate parks maintenance services
under a single provider for more efficient administration of park maintenance.
We will continue to explore opportunities to provide enhanced levels of service
at the best possible cost to our taxpayers.
Tremendous improvements have been made to our transit system. In 2005, the
City added three new buses to the Modesto Area Express and expanded the bus
routes and schedules. Last year the transit system covered 2 million street
miles and served 3.7 million riders.
This year we will be adding service to the Village One area and will enhance
service in northwest Modesto to the new Kaiser medical facility.
The City is working to improve the availability of air travel to the citizens
of Modesto. The City was awarded a $550,000 grant from the U.S. Department of
Transportation that will be used to attract new air service to the Modesto area,
the goal of establishing direct air service to Los Angeles by the end of this
- POLICE DEPARTMENT RECEIVES NATIONAL ACCREDITATION
Last year, the Modesto Police Department became only the 14th Law Enforcement
Agency in California to achieve accreditation. It also became the largest
California police department to be accredited.
Accreditation strengthens crime prevention and enforcement capabilities,
formalizes essential management procedures, establishes fair personnel
practices, improves service delivery, solidifies inter-agency cooperation and
boosts citizen and staff confidence in our police department.
- MODESTO TAKES HONORS FOR NATIONAL NIGHT OUT 2005
Coming from a public safety background, I know that a safe community depends
on a partnership between neighborhoods and law enforcement.
In 2005, the community’s involvement in National Night Out was outstanding.
In fact, Modesto placed 1st in California and 2nd in the nation for National
Night Out participation. This year’s festivities marked the 22nd annual
participation of Modesto in this important neighborhood based crime prevention
- OPENED NEW FIRE STATION 11
In January, 2005, the City of Modesto opened its 11th fire station at the
corner of Pelandale Avenue and Carver Road. In addition, a new ladder truck was
purchased and 12 positions were approved in the supplemental budget process for
staffing of the station by mid 2006.
- MARSHALL PARK
Plans are completed for the construction of the Neighborhood Center at
Marshall Park. The new neighborhood center will serve as a joint Fire, Police,
Parks and Recreation and Neighborhoods facility and will replace the existing
fire station #2 on G Street with a modern, functional station. The Center will
also house the southwest area office of the Police department, and a Parks,
Recreation and Neighborhood office, greatly enhancing services to the southwest
area of Modesto. Marshall Park improvements were funded through a combination of
State and Federal money, as well as developer fees and city general funds.
- TUOLUMNE RIVER REGIONAL PARK (TRRP)
After three years of planning community workshops and environmental studies,
the Gateway Precise Plan for the Tuolumne River Regional Park (TRRP) has been
completed. Construction documents are being prepared for the construction of the
Gateway project on the river’s edge and the shaping of the major public
gathering areas. Construction will start in July of this year with completion
anticipated by May 2007.
- VIRGINIA CORRIDOR TRAIL
The Roseburg Square portion of the Virginia Corridor is nearing the
mid-point. This section of the trail is a collaborative effort among the City of
Modesto Parks, Recreation and Neighborhoods Department and the five Rotary Clubs
of Modesto. This quarter-mile section of the Virginia Corridor Trail will
feature a trail with lighting, landscaping, benches, tables and seat walls.
After completion of the Rotary project, the next phase of the Trail will
commence, including the installation of trail improvements between College
Avenue and Granger Avenue. By October of 2006, one and three-fourths miles of
completed trail will be ready for public use.
- NEW PARKS
In 2006, four new parks will be built with construction on Marshal Park and
Freedom Park scheduled to begin in the spring and the construction of Monterosso
Park and Sanders Park to begin in the summer. These park improvements are funded
through developer fees and federal loan and grants. These parks will be
tremendous assets to our community.
- STATE THEATER
In February, the refurbished State Theater will reopen for business. The work
that has been done to this building is impressive to say the least. I
congratulate and thank Mike Zagaris for his efforts to have this wonderful
building renovated through community donations and at no expense to taxpayers.
Mike works with a great board of directors comprised of community leaders. I
look forward to honoring them all at the grand opening of the theater.
- GALLO CENTER FOR THE ARTS
It is exciting to see the progress that is being made on the Gallo Center for
the Arts. In the not to distant future we will be able to enjoy a wonderful
variety of performances. More importantly, it will provide educational
opportunities for young people. This Center will allow the children of this
community to experience performing arts and music not currently available.
Our downtown continues to be a vibrant destination for fun, feasting and all
of the amenities that a downtown can offer. The improvements to building facades
improves the area’s appearance. The addition of new business, new buildings and
the opening of the Gallo Center for the Arts and re-emergence of the State
Theatre will only enhance economic growth in the downtown and throughout
- CITIZENS WEB ACTION CENTER
The Action Center continues to be utilized to enhance communication and make
city service providers more directly accessible to the public. If you have a
concern or if you just have a question about city services, our new web-based
Action Center will help you find the answers. You can find a button to the
action center at www.modestogov.com
- FORMATION OF STANISLAUS ENTERPRISE ZONE
The Enterprise Zone Program targets economically distressed areas throughout
California. Special state and local incentives encourage business investment and
promote the creation of new jobs. The purpose of the Zone program is to provide
tax incentives to businesses and allow private sector market forces to grow the
Water supply is a very important commodity to our community and efforts have
been made to ensure that our domestic water system is adequately funded and well
Following water rate increases in 2004, we pledged to make sure that growth
pays for its way as it relates to water system infrastructure. In 2005 water
connection fees were increased dramatically to make sure that the appropriate
infrastructure is in place to serve growth as it occurs, without burdening the
existing ratepayers. Within the resolution, there is a process to increase the
amount of the fees annually and to review the connection fees every three years.
The City has partnered with the Modesto Irrigation District to build Phase 2
of the Surface Water Treatment plant that doubles the amount of high quality
drinking water the City can receive from that source. In addition, new water
mains and storage facilities will be built to assure safe and secure water
service in Modesto.
I believe that we have our water system on the right track. We are now
analyzing the sewer system. A process similar to the water planning will take
place with increasing rates for users of the system and significantly increased
connection fees for new development.
Because of state regulations regarding the discharge of treated sewer
products, the city may need to modify the way sewage is treated prior to
discharge. These new regulations would likely have occurred even if we never add
another business or house to Modesto. New treatment options will be expensive
and the burden to pay for the treatment options will fall on all users of this
essential utility. There will be plenty of opportunity for public comment,
including a vote of the ratepayers.
MODESTO A GREAT PLACE TO LIVE
Modesto is a great place to live and a city of wonderful people.
In an unfortunate event in a neighboring community, Sgt. Howard Stevenson and
Officer Sam Ryno of the Ceres Police Department were shot last January on this
very day. Sgt. Stevenson died in this tragic incident and Officer Ryno continues
to recover. In the hours, weeks and days that passed, our community pitched in
and helped out in any way that they could. Donations of time, money, food and
flowers were generous and showed the heart and soul of the people of Modesto. I
thank you, as have, the families of the officers and the City of Ceres.
The community also pulled a team together to participate in the All-America
City contest that was held in Atlanta. We were fortunate to be named in the top
30 but we didn’t reach our goal to receive official All-America city status.
While we were disappointed that we came a little bit short of our goal, we
learned some valuable lessons that will help us apply again this year. Community
members and businesses donated $29,000 for the expense of the team to travel to
Atlanta. This year’s event will be held in Anaheim and I am confident that we
can put together another great team that will represent the City of Modesto well
and that we can earn All-America City status for Modesto.
When Hurricane Katrina struck, Modesto stepped forward. I was amazed and
proud of the community groups, churches, youth groups and others that conducted
car washes, bake sales and sponsored other events to aid Katrina victims.
Last year, over 623 people received housing at the Salvation Army, and 273
received housing through housing vouchers. The Salvation Army Winter Emergency
Shelter provides nightly shelter to homeless individuals during the cold winter
months. The shelter houses single, homeless individuals who have no other
Habitat for Humanity, a local non-profit home builder that gives first time
home buyers a hand-up and not a hand-out has experienced generosity from the
community as they built more homes for low income families last year than in any
Your generosity could not have been more evident than at the November 2005
Salvation Army’s Kettle Kick-Off. Generous businesses and members of the
community really stepped up to the plate by donating $200,000 to the Army in
just one afternoon, shattering the previous record!
MAYOR’S 2006 GOALS
The legendary American Humorist Will Rogers once said, “Even if you’re on the
right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.”
Modesto is on the right track and the accomplishments that I have mentioned
today are evidence of our progressive philosophy and financial discipline. But,
as Will Rogers’ quote indicates, we cannot rest on our many accomplishments to
date. We simply cannot settle for being “run over”. We must continue to move
forward and remain competitive in business, education and government.
I will continue to work closely with our colleagues from the Stanislaus
County Board of Supervisors and the Mayors of all 9 of the cities in our county.
As I have pledged in each of my State of the City addresses, while it is
important to do what is right for Modesto, it is equally as important to think
and plan regionally on transportation, land use, economic development, education
and law enforcement.
Along with other regional leaders, I will continue to pursue state and
federal funding for transportation, law enforcement, homeland security and other
important issues in our community. As I said in my 2004 address, “It is no
longer appropriate for the most powerful private parties to stand on the
sidelines”. I again challenge you to join in this and other important efforts to
improve our community.
As a city, we will continue to ensure the firm financial integrity of our
water, sewer and storm drain systems. Last year, we focused on water. This year,
we will complete the sewer system and begin to analyze our storm drain system.
As promised, we are addressing the issue of growth paying its own way and have
adjusted and will continue to review developer fees.
As we begin to prepare the next budget, I can assure you that we will balance
the budget and we will maintain adequate financial reserves for a rainy day. As
we continue to monitor our municipal services, we will continue to look for
opportunities to be more efficient at the lowest cost to taxpayers, including
continuing to explore competitively bidding city services.
As we close, let me just say that it is an honor and a privilege to work with
you and to serve you. I appreciate the level of trust that has been given to me
and the confidence that you have in me. However, I must share with you that the
true joy in this position is making steady progress in improving the quality of
life for Modesto’s residents through the many activities and services we provide
as a city.
Thank you for coming. God Bless you, God Bless the City of Modesto and God
Bless the United States of America.
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