Thursday, April 24, 2014

State of the city: Mayor talks water, budget

From page A1 | January 09, 2013 | Leave Comment

Davis Mayor Joe Krovoza delivers his State of the City address Tuesday at the Davis Chamber of Commerce's community luncheon at the Odd Fellows Hall. Fred Gladdis/Enterprise photo

“Let’s go let’s go to the Chamber lunch so we can hear Joe talk about water, because there’s nothing Joe would rather talk about than water.”

Well, in response to Mayor Joe Krovoza’s own quip, with less than a month until Measure I ballots are mailed to all registered voters, perhaps that’s exactly why the Davis Chamber of Commerce membership packed the basement of the Odd Fellows Hall, 415 Second St., on Tuesday to hear the mayor’s 2013 State of the City address.

Or perhaps it was the food.

In either case, the mayor, who spoke retrospectively about many of the issues in Davis over the past year, voiced strong support for the Woodland-Davis Clean Water Agency project.

“A city of 65,000 (people), with a university having a daytime population of 55,000, does not exist solely 100 percent on ground water,” Krovoza said. “That’s unsustainable (and) it’s arguably unethical to mine that ground water and take it from future generations.

“We’re still going to have a conjunctive use system, we’re still going to use surface water and ground water, we’re still going to keep our six best deep water wells that produce high-quality water going, but we’re going to mix that with Sacramento River water,” the mayor concluded. “This is a great shared-service project in the county and I’m very, very proud of it.”

Measure I will ask voters whether they approve of the City Council moving forward with the surface water project, which — priced at an estimated $113 million to the city of Davis — will pump water from the Sacramento River, treat it and pipe it to Davis and Woodland.

City engineers have estimated that water rates will need to double or triple over the next five years to cover the project’s cost.

The arguments and rebuttals for and against Measure I, as well as the ballots themselves, will be mailed to registered voters in Davis by the Yolo County Elections Office the week of Feb. 4. They must be turned in by 8 p.m. Tuesday, March 5.

Residents will receive the Proposition 218 notices in mid-January that explain the rate structure and the rates that the city will draw from to pay for the project.

In addition to the water project, Krovoza also touched on the city’s budget Tuesday.

With contracts expiring for the city’s seven labor groups last June, Krovoza spoke of how vital it is to strike new deals that will help put the city in better fiscal standing.

And of how, with five of the seven groups already signed on the dotted line, the City Council has been successful in negotiations thus far, allowing the city to maneuver around the structural deficit it had been facing for the past few years.

“If you’re living in that kind of world (of a structural budget deficit), you’re going to find it very, very difficult to do the things that make the community special,” Krovoza said. “So if we want to keep investing in our parks, and in our schools … we absolutely have to do what (Councilwoman) Rochelle (Swanson) and (Mayor Pro Tem) Dan (Wolk) and I and the council have now accomplished.”

The freshly inked labor deals, Krovoza added, will save the city of Davis 12 percent on its labor costs over the next three years and drive the city’s personnel expenditures back down close to 2007-08 levels.

The city’s negotiating team still has its work cut out for it, however, as Davis has yet to reach agreement with its two largest employee groups, the Davis Professional Firefighters Association Local 3494 and the Davis City Employees Association.

And, as the mayor explained Tuesday, all of the contracts that already have been signed by the other associations have “me too” clauses, meaning that if the two remaining groups can negotiate better deals, those same terms will float back to the rest of the employee groups.

Krovoza also pointed out several of the city’s 2012 highlights in economic development, including the opening of Mori Seiki, a Japanese tool manufacturing company, and the emergence of Davis Roots, a local tech-business accelerator that the city’s leaders hope will continue to charge up the local economy.

The mayor also teased the crowd with an idea to propose a citywide tax that could fill the funding hole left by the loss of redevelopment agencies, a tactic the city of West Sacramento recently successfully took, according Krovoza.

Looking forward to 2013, the mayor stressed the importance of chiseling out the best possible design for The Cannery project, while taking a “hard look” at the Nishi property, two large, local development opportunities for the city of Davis.

Krovoza also reminded the Chamber membership of the city’s relationship with UC Davis and of the valuable partnerships the two can and should continue to create together for the betterment of both communities.

— Reach Tom Sakash at or 530-747-8057. Follow him on Twitter at @TomSakash

Tom Sakash

Tom Sakash covers the city beat for The Davis Enterprise. Reach him at, (530) 747-8057 or @TomSakash.

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