Escondido city hall was packed with onlookers on Wednesday, February 11, as Mayor Lori Holt Pfeiler gave her annual state of the city address. She said Escondido's revenue continues to decline and there's uncertainty about how far it will diminish before leveling out. She said she expects the federal government's stimulus plan to provide jobs and that having people feel confident about their jobs is key to getting the economy moving again.
Historically, Escondido has relied on sales-tax revenue to fund city services. With the closing of three local businesses, the city's budget is down over $500,000. Since 2005, the city's sales tax has declined by 30 percent.
In Wednesday's speech, the mayor referred to the emergency budget cuts announced during the meeting of January 14: a 5 percent pay reduction for 222 employees, a decrease in library hours (closure every other Friday), and significant cuts to Escondido police and fire departments. In her 16 years on the council, Pfeiler said the cuts were the most difficult decisions she's had to make. She said she wished it wasn't necessary to close city hall and the main library every other Friday.
The mayor addressed the city's water shortage. Sixty million gallons of water is used in Escondido daily. Pfeiler noted that we live in a desert and can no longer landscape the way we have been. She said it takes 48 inches of rain to take care of our lawns and that California is lucky to get 16 inches.
The mayor expressed her excitement about Escondido's participation in the 2009 Amgen Tour, the largest cycling event in America. It will finish on Grand Avenue and Broadway on Sunday, February 22. Twenty-thousand onlookers are expected to attend. No taxpayer dollars were used to fund the event.