Mayors weigh in on 2013
Orland officials are optimistic about 2013, but are a bit more uncertain in Willows.
New Willows Mayor Jeff Cobb said the council made some difficult fiscal decisions to keep the city's finances stable in 2012, and he hopes it will continue to maintain that course.
However, it is difficult to predict where Willows will head this year, Cobb said, because the council has three new council members.
"I want to continue on with fiscal savings," he said, adding maintaining reserves is critical.
"I hope we are done with cuts," Cobb said. "We cannot make further cuts and keep the services here."
Still, the city's transient occupancy tax increase to 12 percent and the cuts made last year hopefully will provide enough money for Willows to keep up with its employee retirement and health care costs, he said.
Orland City Council members are optimistic 2013 will be a time for growth.
It is not a certainty, but new businesses are coming to town like the Grocery Outlet Store likely to open in April if all goes as planned in the Stony Creek Square Shopping Center.
"I think we are moving forward," Orland Mayor Charles Gee said. "The new grocery store is one of our best moves at the moment."
Gee said he hopes the city's sales taxes will pick up with that store, and the proposed Dollar Tree store along with other businesses looking at coming into Orland.
That increase would depend on new shoppers, otherwise residents just shifting their grocery funds from one store to another will not add to the coffers.
Gee said there is not a lot of extra money in Orland's general fund, but he hopes more money can be found to assist the volunteer fire department in equipment purchases.
He also is pleased Orland is planning to pay back a portion of the loan it took from its water fund to purchase the old Purity Market building for a police station.
"That was not the best move we ever made," he said.
Housing starts are picking up as well even though builders are not putting in large developments.
"They are trying to pre-sell what they're building," Gee said, "which is smart."
He added he has not had a lot of complaints about city services in recent months with new City Manager Peter Carr on board.
Gee believes Carr and the rest of the city staff are doing their best to help accommodate new businesses and the public, he said.
But he does not know what the state and federal governments might do to impact the city, he said.
That is always a concern.
Councilman Bruce Roundy Roundy serves on League of California Cities committees that lobbies for cities statewide.
He said his goal is get his Orland and Willows council members to be more active in the organization - especially the Sacramento Valley Division.
"It is a constant battle to keep local control over our tax money," Roundy said. "The governor was successful in passing his tax initiative, but that is just the status quo."
Otherwise, Roundy said he believes Orland is looking at a "little more prosperity" in the new year.
The city is being more pro-active in economic development with help from its city manager, he said, and that will grow the tax base.
Roundy also wants to plan for fire and police services in 2013, so these and other city services may continue at a high level, he said.
Councilman Dennis Hoffman said he is looking forward to Grocery Outlet's arrival and wants to get new businesses in town.
"I'd like to see people glad they live in Orland," Hoffman said.
Councilwoman Salina Edwards said she wants to see Sapphire Plaza get more businesses in it beyond the Papa Murphy's Pizza shop.
Just as importantly, she wants to see more interaction between the council and the city's various committees.
She added some commissioners have expressed frustration about how things have been working, and would like to expand commission participation outside the city limits.
"We had some really qualified people we could not consider because they lived 8 feet outside the city line," Edwards said. "Some could bring fresh ideas to us."