Thursday, March 30, 2006

Onward and Upward

Onward and Upward
Vacaville Continues to grow, Satisfy Residents

When Vacaville Mayor Len Augustine was mulling possible titles for his 2006 State of the City Address, he quickly rejected "Doom and Gloom," which unquestionably belongs to other cities, not Vacaville. He then posed "Stable Table" and "Boom and Bloom."

He didn't settle on either of the latter, but said the state of Vacaville falls somewhere in between stable and booming.

And that assessment is right on target.

The mayor and City Manager David Van Kirk debuted their latest update on the city's fiscal, social and cultural health before business leaders, noting that Vacaville's financial performance is among the best in California, that the city is the second safest in the state, and more than nine of every 10 residents rate it an excellent place to live.

While there are warts, city services remain above average and the local economy is stable. The city has 875 more jobs than it did last year with unemployment under 4 percent. There is $2 billion in new construction under way.

There will always be controversial policies and planning issues that get folks riled up at times. But overall, when you hear the good things occurring in the community, all at one time in one presentation, it is impressive, to be sure.

For instance, an upgraded wastewater treatment plant is one project moving along, one that will ensure the city can handle the influx of new jobs and industry it is trying to lure with the help of Solano Economic Development Corp. Two new freeway overpasses will be complete in coming months, projects that comprise more than $30 million in improvements that will solve some traffic problems. And there's the new state-of-the-art police headquarters building that will keep that agency among the best in California.

The big-industry players have found Vacaville to be a good place to grow their business, even if the state of California is doing little to retain or attract new jobs and manufacturers. Alza, Genentech and Kaiser health care have committed $1.2 billion in new investment in local facilities.

Mayor Augustine has been fortunate to have presided over a city government that is doing its job better than the vast majority of municipal agencies. For instance, taxpayers should realize that the reserve fund for emergencies stands at $9.2 billion, representing 17 percent of the annual budget. (Anything over 15 percent is considered exemplary.)

It's also been a time for landmark changes, including the completion of the Town Square, the focus of downtown's revitalization, and the rise of the new Nut Tree, a commercial milestone for the city when completed.

Of course, the best measurement of good government is the satisfaction it brings to its constituents. And in Vacaville, 95 percent believe this is a great place to live. Fire protection and garbage service received 92 percent and 90 percent approval ratings, respectively. Police earned an 89 percent rating, while 87 percent of residents rated their parks as good or excellent.

The greatest challenge of being good is staying there. And a year from now, we expect that what has already been put in motion will result in another glowing report card.

Solano's Got It!

Solano's Got It!
The Best That Northern California Has To Offer.

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