BROAD STAGE — With the recession cutting into tax revenue, City Hall is projecting a deficit of as much as $9 million during the next fiscal year, and outgoing City Manager Lamont Ewell has said that amount could grow to $47 million by 2014 without “corrective action.”
“Expenditure growth is projected to far outpace revenue growth over the forecast period, and adjustments will be needed in order to balance our budget in both the near and long term,” Ewell wrote in a letter to city employees this month.
Although that dim financial outlook served as the backdrop for Thursday’s “State of the City” event, the program focused less on the doom and gloom and more on long-term steps leaders can take to bolster Santa Monica’s economy.
The keynote speaker, President and CEO of the Los Angeles Economic Development Corp. Bill Allen, stressed the link between civic leadership, the business community and economic development.
In summarizing the county’s strategic plan for economic development, which the county’s Board of Supervisors approved last month, he highlighted the importance of improving primary education, creating a business friendly environment, investing in infrastructure and making smart land use decisions.
He said Los Angeles County has a weak record in job creation, having added 1 million people since 1980, while at the same time losing 100,000 jobs.
In a portion of his speech that seemed particularly relevant to Santa Monica, he argued that city leaders should recognize the importance of creating a balance between job creation and other community priorities like limiting traffic congestion and maintaining a high quality of life.
“If we have voices in our community that are not recognizing the appropriate balance, I think there’s a moral responsibility for the rest of us to stand up and seek that balance,” he said.
The event Thursday morning at the Broad Stage was put on by the Santa Monica Chamber of Commerce and also served as a changing of the guard for the City Manager’s Office.
In brief remarks, incoming City Manager Rod Gould said he looks forward to working with the chamber as City Hall tries to boost its coffers.
“I believe it’s imperative that the city work with you in the business community to speed the recovery which most prognosticators believe will be anemic and halting across California and the rest of the nation,” he said.
Highlighting one of the brightest spots for Santa Monica in early 2010, honoree Frank McCourt discussed the L.A. Marathon, which will end at the Santa Monica Pier in March. In addition to owning the Los Angeles Dodgers, McCourt owns the company that puts on the marathon.
He credited the late Mayor Ken Genser with working to bring the marathon to Santa Monica and exemplifying “unbelievable civic pride.”
Because the March 21 race will end at the pier, McCourt said many people will view it as a Santa Monica event, though the course begins in Los Angeles and also passes through West Hollywood and Beverly Hills, he said.
He also promised to make the marathon a tradition for years to come in Santa Monica, saying the event will benefit both businesses and residents in the city.
“This has been a very special relationship we’ve developed with Santa Monica,” he said.