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Recovery and spending in Chula Vista Allison K. Sampite | Sat, Mar 12 2011 12:00 PM

Chula Vista Mayor Cheryl Cox will deliver her State of the City address Tuesday evening at City Hall.

She said her priorities are mainly economic.

"We have cut spending in order to match revenue and as the economy returns we need to return expenditures," she said.

The city of Chula Vista has nearly balanced an $18.5 million deficit for the 2011-12 fiscal year by establishing comprehensive pension reform, including salary cuts, department consolidation and layoffs across city departments.

Cox said she hopes to turn challenges into opportunities by providing adequate services at acceptable levels to the public.

"Our positive outlook will have an enormous effect on the city's well being and the quality of life in the city," she said.

Cox said her priorities for this year include progress on the bayfront, which means an expedited South Bay power plant demolition. In addition, she said property agreements for the proposed four-year university and technology center are important for the city.

Chula Vista Taxpayer Association president Larry Breitfelder said those are important long-term goals for the city, but there should be a focus on immediate needs such as bringing good paying jobs to Chula Vista - critical to economic development in the city.

"That will be the standard by which history judges this mayor and council," he said.

The smartest people in government are the ones who make investments when the times are hard, Breitfelder said.

"From a public policy standpoint, we need to focus on day-to-day things to move us forward, like regulations pertaining to small businesses," he said.

Breitfelder said too much red tape is a costly inconvenience with no public benefit.

"The approval process for new businesses needs to be faster," he said. "These changes speak to more economic benefits and financial success."

"We need to respect where we've been, learn from the past and enjoy ourselves this year," she said.

Cox said now is the perfect time for philanthropic efforts to use time, talent and funding to help the city.

Last year, the city hired Chief Service Officer Wanda Bailey to find and assess the needs of the community.

"We need to be a part of the solution no matter what our differences are," Cox said.

Mark McDonald, vice president of the International Association of Fire Fighters, said the union's number one priority for the city is to start a program for advanced life support services.

McDonald said Chula Vista's is the only metro fire department in San Diego County that does not have a paramedic on an engine. "We need to see a push for that," he said.

The Chula Vista Fire Department has nine stations in the city and had the lowest fire staff per capita in the state last year.

An emergency medical technician firefighter can provide basic life support while a paramedic fire fighter can administer life support services.

"It's a much higher level of care for the citizens," he said. "Being able to get the proper drugs is critical to saving a life."

McDonald said advanced life support is especially critical to senior residents, who make up around 25 percent of the city's population.

McDonald said the union understands the mayor considers public safety a priority.

"But from a union standpoint our concern is first for the protection of the citizens and secondly for our own people," he said.

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