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Focused on finances Allison K. Sampite | Sat, Mar 19 2011 12:00 PM

Chula Vista Mayor Cheryl Cox presented a positive outlook for the city of Chula Vista at Tuesday evening's state of the city address.

"I am committed to working tirelessly over the next four years to improve this wonderful city," Cox said.

"I will not leave it to the next mayor to right the city financially, or wait to lay the foundation for our most ambitious and promising projects."

Her focus included the city's centennial events, capital improvement projects, fiscal responsibility, education, philanthropy and sustainability.

"From my first day as mayor four years ago, the city's fiscal health has been my top priority," Cox said. "For the past four years, our city has not spent beyond its means."

Today the city is operating at 1987 staffing levels and a $133 million budget.

The 2011-12 fiscal year is expected to see even less at $120 million.

Cox said that public safety is at the center of the city's efforts to keep neighborhoods safe, improve the economy and create jobs.

She said reaching agreements with employee unions regarding pensions was difficult but necessary.

"Restructuring comes at a human cost," Cox said. "Through no fault of their own, many talented people no longer work for the city and uncertainty in the workplace is hard to endure."

Chula Vista Taxpayer Association President Larry Breitfelder took issue with the city's labor negotiations with police.

"I wish she would have noted that laying off police officers is off the table," he said. "That was depicted as a consequence of no agreement with police officers on pensions."

Robert Corcilius has been a Chula Vista resident for 36 years and is a local business owner.

Corcilius said there needs to be more of a focus on local business growth.

Cox promised to make the city a more pro-business, streamlined organization to attract and retain companies and provide effective customer service.

Breitfelder said that while the mayor's words were a start, "that's just a first step," he said.

According to Cox, increasing the number of high school graduates by 50 percent would generate $68 million in economic benefits to the community and decrease violent crime.

"This year of recovery for Chula Vista is one in which President Kennedy's words of 50 years ago should echo in our thoughts and actions," Cox said. "We cannot be content to ask what can be done for us. Let us ask ourselves what we can do for our community."

Cox said the city's centennial is about connecting with the community and embracing its history.

"I hope 2011 reflects a positive outlook with more members of our community helping others and that each of us will commit to promoting this sentiment," she said.

In addition, Cox said that a strong education is everyone's business.

"The reality is that the new economy holds few positions for those who fail to graduate from high school," Cox said.

Cox said she will continue to support the Bayfront Master Plan, University Park and Research Center, Urban Core Specific Plan and removal of the power plant from the bayfront.

Cox said she will support fast tracking and incentivizing the start-up and retention of green enterprises in the city that will build an environmentally-friendly community.

Cox reminded residents to spending locally. "You have heard the Chula Vista Chamber of Commerce slogan, 'Shop, Dine and Stay Chula Vista,' this message is critical," she said.

Breitfelder said he's placing a lot of hope that going forward, Cox will encourage the City Council to invest in business development and recruitment as funds become available.

Cox said this is the time to measure the workforce's effectiveness and efficiency to rebuild reserves, replace equipment and keep facilities in good repair in ways that do not mortgage the city's future.

Cox recognized the city's public servants, staff, employees and unions for their contributions.

"To employees throughout this city, I am grateful for your perseverance through some very tough times," she said.

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