First of all I would like to thank all of you for coming to the 2016 City of Holtville State of the City Address; I would also like to thank my fellow council members for their dedication to the City of Holtville and our residents.
I am happy to say that with tonight’s action the City of Holtville has now passed a balanced budget for the 4th consecutive year. That has not been an easy task and I want to thank our City Manager Nick Wells and Finance Supervisor Hector Orozco for all of their hard work in that area.
With the loss of the Redevelopment Agency back in 2011, many cities have suffered, including Holtville. In 2011 the City found itself in a poor situation financially and had to make several layoffs in order to maintain a balanced budget. Since that time, the City has been operating on a much reduced staff. Our staff has had to work extremely hard to keep the city functioning and our employees have not received a pay raise since 2008. With tonight’s actions I am proud to say that we have just agreed to new three year contract with the City of Holtville employees giving our employees a much needed pay increase.
Serving on the City Council is just a part of what we as elected officials do. There are over 20 different commissions, committees and boards that we serve on and I have been privileged to be able to serve as Chair of the Imperial County Transportation Commission and for the last year and a half I have served on the Community, Economic and Human Development Policy Committee for the Southern California Association of Governments, where we work on policies that effect the 19 million people who live here in the 6 counties that are represented by SCAG in Southern California.
During the past year at SCAG we have been working on the Regional Transportation Plan/ Sustainable Communities Strategy for the next 25 years. On April 7, 2016, SCAG’s Regional Council adopted the 2016-2040 Regional Transportation Plan/ Sustainable Communities Strategy.
The Plan is a long-range visioning plan that balances future mobility and housing needs with economic, environmental and public health goals. The Plan charts a course for closely integrating land use and transportation – so that the region can grow smartly and sustainably. It outlines more than $556.5 billion in transportation system investments through 2040.
During those meetings and discussions I have been puzzled by what I have heard over and over from other elected officials that represent cities in the urban areas of Southern California, complaining about traffic, how expensive housing is, and the lack of water, among others.
I think of Imperial Valley, where we don’t have the traffic problems that they do, even our high end homes would be listed as affordable compared to the coastal region, and most importantly we have water.
Imperial County is about the same size as Los Angeles County, but LA County has a population of 13 million people, and the Imperial Valley has a population of only 180 thousand. I wonder why. We always hear that it is so hot, but our climate isn’t much different than Phoenix, except we are much closer to the beach.
I feel that it has been a branding problem, whether it is the heat, or the problems with the Salton Sea, or that we are in the desert.
Tim Kelly from the Imperial Valley Economic Development Corporation made a comment at our recent Economic Summit on how it wasn’t until their first renewable energy event was sold out by out- of-the-area attendees that our local leaders started expressing interest. It is an example that Imperial Valley must do a better job supporting and promoting itself.
Kelly said “People are talking about us and (sometimes) they’re not saying nice things. We have to get in front of them,” he also added, “Notice how people don’t call a jungle a jungle anymore, but rather they call it a rainforest. We need to stop saying that we live in the desert, rather let’s say that we live on an oasis. Instead saying that we live in the middle of nowhere, we need to say that we are in the middle of everywhere.”
There has been a lot of interest lately in the Imperial Valley. That interest in the Imperial Valley has been bringing in new investment in renewables, including solar, wind and geothermal. There are funds now coming in to help restore the Salton Sea. There are Federal and State funds coming of over a half a billion dollars that will provide the expansion planned for both of our ports of entry. In the last decade the County has seen about $7 billion worth of renewable energy projects go online, including solar, wind and geothermal. I want to thank the Imperial Valley Economic Development Corporation and the Imperial County Transportation Commission for all of their hard work in these areas.
I truly feel that the Imperial Valley is on the verge of unprecedented expansion.
So what is Holtville doing? Over the past few years we have doubled our water storage capacity, we have replaced our sewer outfall main pipeline. Prior to the replacement of that sewer line, the intake that was flowing into our Wastewater Treatment Plant was reaching to over 1 million gallons per day.
That sewer line ran adjacent to an IID canal and on an occasion that the IID turned off the water to the canal, our sewer plant inflows almost dropped to half. Since that pipeline has now been completed the amount of sewage going into the plant has been substantially reduced.
We now have our Wastewater Treatment Plant going through a rehabilitation which should be completed by the end of this year that will make it more efficient.
The outfall pipeline and the treatment plant rehabilitation represent over $24 million in investment that Holtville is making to its infrastructure, the majority of that coming in the form of grants and forgivable loans. I would like to thank the Holt Group, our city engineer Jack Holt and City Planner Justina Arce for all of their hard work to get that accomplished.
Holtville had also experienced a lot of buckling sidewalks throughout the city and I would like to thank our Public Works Department for taking on this project. Having our Public Works make these repairs in house has saved the City quite a bit of funds and they have done a fantastic job.
Let’s talk about housing
A few years ago, when the City Council starting talking with the developer Cliff Douglas and contractor Charley Schreiber at the Holtville Estates. With an effort to entice them, the City Council agreed to lower the City’s impact fees so that the developer would build the new high end homes here in Holtville.
Those homes didn’t really break records when they were first built, but now they are selling fast, many being sold before they are built. What does that mean to every home owner here in Holtville?
The more the homes sell for and faster they sell affects the value of every home in Holtville.
Home owners in Holtville have seen substantial increases in the value of their homes over the past couple of years and the sales of the new homes from the Holtville Estates play heavily in those increases.
At the recent Economic Summit it was brought up that many, when reaching retirement age, that have owned homes in the areas of California that have seen home prices skyrocket are selling those homes and moving to areas such as ours to purchase homes at a lower price and investing the difference towards their retirement.
Holtville has made a lot of progress with new development and businesses over the past few years and we want to continue to build on that.
Holtville stands out as a City and Community from every other city in the Imperial County and we are proud of that.
When we drive into Holtville whether it is from the east or west we see all of the palm trees, on the east side we see the lake at Casa Blanca surrounded by palm trees, so I think what we see is the “Oasis” I think that Holtville is the Oasis of the Imperial County”; and we want to promote that.
But what really makes Holtville great is its people and with that, there are several that I would like to recognize tonight.
First I all would like to thank our Fire Department and Sheriff’s Department for their commitment to Holtville and what they do for our students, community and our citizens.
I am proud to say that Alex Silva is now our full time Fire Chief, and would like to welcome Robert Benavidez as our new police chief. Thank You for all that you do for the City.
Holtville is a City that steps up to the plate when there is a need and there are some Businesses and community leaders that are always there to help when there is a need.
I would like to invite the rest of the Council to come up and help me as we recognize some of those that meet those needs.
I would like to recognize both Dora DePaloi and Ruth Chambers for their commitment to keeping the streets of Holtville Clean. On any given day residents of Holtville can see these two walking down the streets of Holtville carrying bags of discarded newspapers, cups and any other type of trash that litter the streets. I would to thank them for their efforts in keeping Holtville great.
I would like to thank two local businesses for their generous support of Holtville, including youth sports, Holtville schools, civic organizations, and events:
(Jason & Katie Turner) Performance Mechanical Contractors or PMC
(Jack & Jamie Vessey, Heather Vessey-Garcia) Vessey & Company
Luis Barajas Turning Point
Luis is one of the original founders of Turning Point and now serves as the men’s home supervisor. Luis has been the go to man when there is a need with the city, whether it is traffic control for our parades or just help around our streets and parks. Luis can always be counted on. Along with that he helps to guide the men that come into the men’s home, that direction can truly change lives. I know that first hand as I walked through the doors of Turning Point 13 years ago today and what I learned there has truly changed my life.
Walter Britschgi has been a member of the Holtville Swiss Club for 48 years and with 2 terms as its President. He worked hard at getting tractor pulls in Holtville and the Valley. Walter also served on the Holtville Fire Department for 10 years and continues to help the department when there is a need.
Walter served on the IVC and Holtville Ag Advisory Committee.
He was married for 41 years to his wife Linda who served on the Holtville City Council, Together they had 3 children Jennifer, John and Jared and he is now enjoying his 7 grandchildren.
Walter is always looking for ways that he can help out his neighbors, friends and community.
Marcy Bingham: when there is a family or individual in need in our community, Marcy is always there to find the help. Her commitment to meeting the needs of other makes her stand out as one of those that help Holtville to be the great city that it is.
Anastasia Miki was instrumental in organizing the fundraising and construction of the shade and solar water heater at the Holtville Swimming Pool and the Holtville Skate Park. Her commitment to the youth and providing the services that our youth had so longed for will always be remembered by the youth that utilize those facilities.
I would like to thank the Holtville Little League Board of Directors and the Holtville Pop Warner Board of Directors for their dedication towards providing quality athletic programs for the youth of our community. Julie Duarte Little League, Christina Toten Pop Warner.
Jeff Magin Retiring Principle Holtville High School: Mr. Magin, on behalf of the City of Holtville and the City Council, we want to wish you well in your retirement and thank you for commitment to the students at Holtville High School. Your dedication to bringing back the spirit and pride of the Holtville Vikings to every student will live on for their entire lives. Thank You for all that you have done, you will be missed.
Manual DeLeon Former Holtville Police Chief Manuel, Manuel has served the City as Police Chief for the past 4 years.
I want to say that it has been a pleasure getting to know you. The outstanding service that you have brought to the city and the commitment to the students has been unprecedented. On a recent fundraiser at Finley my 7 year old daughter walked up to you and gave you a hug that blessed My Heart. I believe that Mayor Pro-Tem Mike Goodsell say something as well.
In Memory of Mr. Elwood Pete Mellinger
The City lost a long time community servant in the Passing of Pete Mellinger, Mr. Mellinger had served the City of Holtville in some capacity for over 40 years. He Served as Planning Commissioner, City Council Member and City Treasurer. Mr. Mellinger was instrumental in the promoting and planning of the Alamo River Trail. I am happy to say that during a Council Meeting this past December the City Council passed a resolution to re name the Alamo River Trail “The Pete Melling Alamo River Trail, and that the sign depicting his name was installed just a couple weeks ago.
In Memory of Mr. Steve Larson, Former owner of the Holtville Tribune.
Mr. Steve Larson Owner of the Holtville Tribune along with the Imperial Valley Weekly and the Calexico Chronicle passed away in December of last year. Mr. Larson purchased the papers back in 1992 and the Weekly and Chronicle in 1999. Even though his residence was in Las Vegas his commitment to Holtville and the Imperial County was a strong one. For many years he would make that drive from Las Vegas to Holtville every Monday Morning and travel back home on Fridays. Over the past few years Mrs. Larson was struggling with illnesses which kept Mr. Larson in Las Vegas which kept him away from the City that he had fell in love with. Just one month after Steve’s passing his Wife passed.
After Steve’s Passing we that work at the Holtville Tribune stuck together to keep the paper that has been serving the City of Holtville and the Imperial County for over 110 years, not knowing what would happen to the paper.
Well I am happy to announce that Brenda Torres who has been the office manager for over 26 years is now the new owner of the Holtville Tribune, Imperial Valley Weekly and the Calexico Chronicle.
Finally I would like thank my wife for her support in allowing me to do what I do and standing with me as the first lady of Holtville. We will be celebrating our 8th wedding anniversary tomorrow.
I would like to thank all once again for coming and will close the City of Holtville Council Meeting and Invite you all to please stay for the reception.