City Manager's Message - June 2018
Dear Indio Neighbors,
On June 20, the Indio City Council is scheduled to consider adoption of a balanced budget for the new fiscal year beginning July 1. After three months of evaluating City priorities and cost trade-offs, the City Council has directed the City staff to pursue the most ambitious capital improvement plan in years.
These new projects are possible thanks to a variety of local and regional funding sources, including:
- Measure X — The 2016 voter passage of the Measure X 1% supplemental sales tax will produce roughly $11.1 million in Fiscal Year 18/19. Use of those funds is identified below.
- Regional Transportation Funds — The City is benefiting substantially from a variety of grant and funding sources generally administered by agencies such as the Coachella Valley Association of Governments (CVAG), the Riverside County Transportation Commission (RCTC), and California Department of Transportation (CalTrans). These include Measure A, Gas Tax, SB1 and other funding sources. These funds are typically used on large-scale, regional transportation projects, major City arterials, bridges, etc. We also benefit from Development Impact Fees (DIF) paid when local development projects are permitted.
- Federal Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) — The City has been accumulating funds from this source for several years to do local neighborhood street, curb & gutter and sidewalk repairs.
- City General Fund — The General Fund typically pays for operating costs (salaries, benefits, materials & supplies) for Police, Fire, Public Works, Community Development, Community Services and other services. In this year’s budget, the City Council has committed to some one-time funding of park and infrastructure upgrades from the General Fund balance.
So, under this new budget, what differences can the Indio public expect to see in Fiscal Year 18/19, beginning July 1? It is an exceptionally aggressive plan including the following:
- More than $7 million of local street rehabilitation projects, likely to begin August 1. The list of these projects, located in roughly 20 City neighborhoods, will shortly be available to see on the City website. (Measure X)
- Design of a new City Police Station to replace the old, cramped, inefficient current facility. Construction would be planned in the following fiscal year. (Measure X)
- Replacement of the City’s antiquated financial and public safety software systems, providing for substantially better operational management and security. (Measure X)
- Completion of the $10.3 million Highway 111 roadway improvements by December (SB 1, Measure A, TUMF, SB1, SB821, and Federal STP)
- Sun Gold Neighborhood Street Improvement Project – Already underway, the workplan includes major roadway and right-of-way improvements in this Downtown neighborhood. (CDBG)
- Madison Avenue Widening — In conjunction with CVAG and the City of La Quinta, Madison Avenue will be widened from Avenues 50 to 52. This will help handle traffic from the music festival events, as well as regular traffic flows.
- Transit Center Mobility Hub Study – A study is underway to evaluate future opportunities and benefits from developing the Downtown transit center as new rail connections are developed to serve the Coachella Valley. (SB1)
- Andrew Jackson Elementary School Neighborhood Pedestrian Improvement Project – To do more than $2.4 million in sidewalk, bicycle and roadway improvements (Federal Active Transportation Program and Measure A).
- A new S. Jackson Street Gateway 9/11 Memorial Park — This will feature a new gateway memorial sculpture paid for by the local Public Art Fund, plus park and parking improvements on Jackson Street south of the I-10 interchange. (DIF, General Fund)
- Other Park Upgrades — The City Council is allocating funds targeting upgrades to both Miles Avenue Park (sports fields) and to Dr. Carreon Park (the unfinished park property to the east). These may be two-year projects. (General Fund)
- Downtown Indio Property Acquisition — Looking to opportunities that are starting to materialize, the City Council has funded acquisition of $1 million in Downtown Indio property from the Successor Agency to the former Redevelopment Agency. This acquisition is intended to facilitate land assemblage for future development projects and to allow the Indio public to reap the benefits of increasing property values that are almost certain to occur.
- Indio Performing Arts Center (IPAC) Air Conditioning System — Good news for the many guests at Desert TheaterWorks performances, the City is replacing the entire HVAC system at the IPAC.
- City General Plan and Downtown Specific Plans — Although mostly funded in the previous year, the City Council plans to adopt a State-required City General Plan Update, a new Downtown Indio Specific Plan, and associated Environmental Impact Reports, in the first half of the fiscal year. These plans will set clearer City development goals and standards, and will attract and facilitate approval of desirable new development proposals.
In addition to the City’s capital plans for the next year, the City Council has been able to include some modest increases in staffing in the Police, Community Development and Public Works Departments. We are also including a proposal to provide nighttime security services at City parks, City-owned buildings and along major public sidewalk areas. This is intended to keep our public areas open and secure for the enjoyment of residents.
A great deal of energy and passion goes into the day-to-day management of the Indio community. We are proud to have great partners in our nonprofit, educational and private business sectors. When one talks about budgets in Indio, it is important to remember that our car dealerships and the April music festivals each contribute millions of dollars each year into our treasury. When customers buy a car at one of our dealerships, a significant piece of the sales tax comes to the City. Collectively it is the single biggest source of City revenue. And each music festival ticket buyer or camper enhances our City budget.
Gratefully, there is also very encouraging interest in Indio retail centers, including the Haagen Company redevelopment of the Indio Fashion Mall, the new phase of The Palms Shopping Center (next to Walmart on I-10), and new ownership of The Regency Shopping Center on the east side of Jackson St, north of I-10. The new Fairfield Inn & Suites is in final stages of construction in the same neighborhood. And, we have other retail, hospitality and office development applications under review. Interest is strong.
Downtown Indio remains a priority in the new fiscal year workplan. We continue to feel blessed by our partnership with the College of the Desert. Student enrollment continues to climb at the Indio campus and a second building will soon be under construction. Along with the beautiful new Loma Linda University Children’s Clinic, our nonprofit sector partners have shown a commitment to Downtown Indio that has been unmatched.
And please come back to the Downtown Indio Library, which dedicated its renovated facility in a brief ceremony just last week. We are confident you will like what you see.
It is exciting for me to serve as City Manager with this BOLD new workplan that the City Council has scheduled for adoption on June 20. The public is always welcome to attend our meetings at 5 pm. Your input is welcomed and valued.