Fresno on the road to recovery, mayor says in annual speech (video)

The Fresno BeeJune 25, 2014 

Fresno is on the road to recovery after five years of economic turmoil, Mayor Ashley Swearengin said Wednesday at the annual State of the City luncheon.

"Fresno is leading the nation in solutions," Swearengin told the audience at downtown's New Exhibit Hall. She went on to say Fresno's finances "are stable, our future is bright."

The mayor added a warning. It all can turn to dust unless "we stay the course."

That course is spending restraint in the face of overbearing temptation.

Swearengin said she'll remind the City Council of that course next week when she vetoes three council amendments that would add $600,000 of spending to her fiscal year 2015-2016 budget. They are $100,000 for the Fresno Arts Council, another $350,000 for council infrastructure budgets and $150,000 for a splash park at the Mosqueda Community Center in southeast Fresno.

Each amendment passed on a 4-3 vote. It takes five votes to override a veto.

Swearengin said she'd support the amendments if public safety services had returned to pre-Great Recession levels, the general fund had a healthy reserve and internal debts were long gone. Unfortunately, she said, that's not the case.

The extra spending is "clearly not in the best interests of the community," Swearengin said.

Swearengin's 45-minute speech hit themes familiar from past State of the City speeches: progress of the 2035 general plan update, efforts to end homelessness, initiatives to spur business growth, visions for a revived Fulton Corridor.

Swearengin this year added two pieces of executive resolve.

Despite the anger of firefighters over failed contract talks, she said, the administration will move forward with efforts to impose conditions needed for a balanced budget.

The city will not retreat from plans to upgrade the water system even as some activists claim the $410 million project is unnecessary, she said.

The reporter can be reached at (559) 441-6272 or ghostetter@fresnobee.com. Read his City Beat blog at fresnobee.com/city-beat.

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