What’s next for Roseville?

State of the City examines what’s ahead in 2014
By: Sena Christian - The Press Tribune
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In a comprehensive State of the City address Wednesday that involved all five members of the Roseville City Council, residents got a peek into the city’s priorities for 2014, which include continuing to close a structural deficit with the help of new revenue streams and economic development.

The council also spoke of the importance of engaging more actively in the legislative process, expressed concerns over the city’s water supply as the state deals with historic dry conditions and commented on the shooting that left gang member Sammy Duran in custody.

A top priority for this year is achieving fiscal soundness, said Mayor Susan Rohan.

“We can take great pride in having a balanced budget each year,” Rohan said. “We do that by living within our means. We use our savings accounts to invest in future opportunities and to pay for future obligations and emergencies — not ongoing expenses. Our fiscal conservatism allowed us to weather this recent economic downturn better than most cities, because we made the fundamental changes we needed to make.”

In 2011, the city implemented a five-year strategy to close its structural deficit, which includes having all city employees pay their share of CalPERS pension costs. This goal was reached, saving $5.7 million in the current fiscal year, according to Rohan. The city will save $6 million in the next fiscal year.

Saving money, making money

As part of its efforts to generate funds, Roseville is trying to attract higher education institutions. In November, the city signed a memorandum of understanding with Sierra College and four regional universities to start a University Center here.

At one location, students will be able to take courses offered by Sierra College, William Jessup University, California State University Sacramento, University of the Pacific and Brandman University. The facility, at Sierra College’s Gateway Center on Sunrise Avenue, is set to open for a trial run this fall.

Rohan and Councilman Tim Herman recently went to England to meet with representatives from the University of Warwick over the possibility of establishing a U.S. campus in an area west of Roseville. City staff is working with Placer County staff and the site’s landowners to figure out how to make this happen.

A third project involves a partnership with Sacramento State to construct a satellite campus on land north of Roseville owned by Westpark Associates.

“These are incredible opportunities for our region, especially considering that one new four-year comprehensive university in Roseville has an annual economic impact of approximately $1 billion to the local economy,” Herman said, during the State of the City. “That’s billions with a B.”

Another way to generate new tax revenue is through the development of a full-service hotel/conference center near Westfield Galleria. Rohan, Vice Mayor Carol Garcia, City Manager Ray Kerridge and another city employee are traveling to South Africa in February for $32,000 to meet with a potential investor for this public-private project.

The hotel/conference center would also create jobs and bolster tourism — adding an estimated $85 million to the local economy annually, according to Herman. The city hopes to break ground in about a year.

In downtown Roseville, the focus has been on revitalization through the Vernon Street Town Square, unveiled in August, and the attraction of new businesses. One of those was Sammy’s Rockin’ Island Bar and Grill, which closed in November due to the death of co-owner Steve Pease. During the State of the City, Garcia said the city doesn’t yet know when another restaurant might reopen in that shuttered space.

Mendocino County Sheriff’s Cpt. Gregory Van Patten told the Press Tribune the death classification for Pease is still pending.

The Monk’s Cellar is anticipated to open this spring, next door to the former bar and grill on Vernon Street.

Also this spring, construction should begin on a roundabout at the intersection of Washington Boulevard and Oak Street in downtown to improve traffic flow and make the area more pedestrian-friendly. The plans for the roundabout generated concern from several residents unsure about the change.

Economic and residential development hinges on many factors, including the reliability and affordability of utilities. The city of Roseville is full-service, meaning it owns its utilities, including electric, water, wastewater and solid waste. But the local water supply is threatened as precipitation is below normal and the snowpack and Folsom Lake levels are low.

“The city has been proactively planning for drought conditions for many years, including working on purchase agreements with our neighboring water districts, implementing an aquifer storage and recovery program and drilling backup wells,” said Councilwoman Pauline Roccucci.

The city has asked residents and businesses to voluntary reduce their water usage by 20 percent.

A look at the year past

During the State of the City, Rohan reflected on 2013 and referenced Sammy Duran’s alleged shooting of several police officers and a federal agent on Oct. 25. She described the incident as one of Roseville’s most violent in its history. Duran was taken into custody without any injuries to the public, which Rohan attributed to the effective work of Roseville police.

From January through November 2013, violent crime in Roseville decreased 8 percent. There has also been a reduction in robberies. Rohan said the council will try to get more police officers on the streets in the next fiscal year. Last year, the council approved additional Youth Services Officers for local schools.

Additionally, police and fire response times will be shortened with the implementation of a new computer-aided dispatch system later in 2014.

This is also an election year with two City Council seats — Rohan’s and Herman’s — up for grabs in November.

Sena Christian can be reached at Follow her on Twitter, @SenaC_RsvPT.