With sales tax revenue inching up and new businesses opening here or expanding, the city of Pleasanton is in a strong financial position, having weathered last year's recession with municipal budget reserves to spare.
That was the message Mayor Jennifer Hosterman delivered Tuesday in her annual "State of the City" address to the Pleasanton Chamber of Commerce.
"Unlike many other cities in the Bay Area and California, the sky is not falling in Pleasanton," Hosterman told the 200 business leaders and other Chamber members at a luncheon at the Pleasanton Hilton Hotel. "We are double-A-plus (AA+) rated financially."
Net assets of the city at the end of the last budget year totaled just over $881.1 million with just over $171 million in unrestricted net assets that are available to meet ongoing obligations, Hosterman said. The city's General Fund reserves total $25.3 million, of which $8.4 million is designated for "economic uncertainties" and another $12.2 million designated for "temporary recession" needs.
While local schools districts and state and local governments across the nation have felt the effects of the recession in a dramatic way, Pleasanton is emerging from the recession in a strong financial position with business and tax revenue growth under way, Hosterman said.
"In light of the uncertainty, 2010 was about doing the same with less in Pleasanton, maximizing our existing resources while still keeping an eye to the future," she said. "I think we can all agree that much of the financial collapse statewide has resulted from the missing component of planning for whatever might be ahead.
"I can assure you that will not happen in Pleasanton," she added. "My goal and the goal of my peers on the Pleasanton City Council, and the goal of all city staff, is to sustain what we have here in Pleasanton: a safe, clean and economically robust city.
"We will maintain fiscal stability and continue to support and promote the local economy. The continued strength and growth of our businesses that you all represent translates into direct job development. Trust me, that is on everyone's radar at City Hall."
Hosterman also pledged that the city will continue to tighten its belt even as the economy slowly starts to recover. The city government has frozen new hires for now, is engaged I concessions with labor unions representing firefighters, police and city employees and is conducting public meetings with regard to planning its two-year budgets for fiscal 2011-12 and FY 2012-13, as well as in addressing pension reform issues.
With regard to new and expanding businesses and development, Hosterman thanked Safeway executives sitting at a table in front of her for adding a second and larger supermarket in Pleasanton. A groundbreaking will be held tomorrow for that new store, called "Lifestyle," at Valley and Bernal avenues next to I-680. The multi-million-dollar project will include adjacent retail shops and restaurants.
She noted that the 124-acre, county-owned Staples Ranch at the northeast corner of the city has just been annexed into Pleasanton, paving the way for more multi-million-dollar developments, including a retirement and senior care complex and a new auto mall. Part of that development also will include extending Stoneridge Drive east to El Charro Road, where it will connect to Livermore thoroughfares.
Signs of economic improvements also visible in Pleasanton, Hosterman said, included business expansions and relocations of businesses to the city.
Xradia Inc., an X-ray imaging products and systems company, located in space that was vacated earlier by Robert Half. Callidus Software relocated its operations from San Jose to a 32,000-square-foot facility on Stoneridge Mall Road, joining software company Workday to create a growing list of technology companies in that business center. Credit union Patel co is wrapping up its headquarters move to Pleasanton, along with 150 employees.
In nearby Stoneridge Corporate Plaza, global telecommunications company Erickson expanded its space. Safeway, Inc., which has its corporate headquarters in Pleasanton, also expanded its footprint here with the purchase and renovation of another 145,000-sqwuare-foot building near the I-580 off ramp onto Foothill Road.
Another major addition to the corporate sector cited by Hosterman is Clorox, which has acquired a business center at Johnson Drive and Hopyard Road for an estimated 1,100-employee workforce.
Last year, Oracle Corp. constructed and now occupies a five-story building and a four-level parking structure on it Pleasanton campus "further solidifying its commitment to retain a strong presence in Pleasanton," Hosterman said.
At the same time, Roche Molecular Systems completed a new R&D expansion at its 33-acre Hacienda Business Park campus, with plans to add an administration building in the near future.
Plans for major expansions at Stoneridge Shopping Center are still on the table, although delayed because of the sluggish economy, she said. These plans include a 280,000-square-foot expansion and a $20-million upgrade to its existing Nordstrom department store.
At the CarrAmerica corporate center in the Hacienda Business Park, the owners are proposing a 480,000-square-foot expansion to their seven-building campus, which already includes more than 1-million square feet of office space. Those plans call for three new office buildings along with a 130-room hotel and possibly some residential units also to be located on the site.
"I should also mention that residential real estate had a 'little boomlet' last year," Hosterman said, "assisted by record low mortgage rates and all the amenities this city has to offer."
She cited figures showing that 557 homes were sold here last year, a 20% increase over 2008.
"We obviously have a ways to go from the record highs of years past, but this modest recovery will certainly help the local market," she added.
Retail businesses in Pleasanton also received the city government's support in 2010 which, through its Economic Vitality Committee, worked with the Chamber and the Pleasanton Downtown Association to extend shopping hours downtown and provide outdoor music and other entertainment.
"Speaking of supporting the local economy, this is very important and not something everyone realizes," Hosterman said. "For every dollar spent in Pleasanton, through the purchase of furniture, a car or even a pair of socks, 1-cent comes back to the community in the form of sales tax."
"It doesn't sound like a lot until you put it into perspective," she explained. "When you purchase a $45,000 car n Pleasanton, $450 goes to the city. So remember, the importance of shopping here in Pleasanton has a direct link to the services and amenities that provide for and improve our quality of life."
"The point here is that Pleasanton's success as a great place to live and work is not an accident, nor is it the result of serendipity or a stroke of very good luck," Hosterman concluded. "It is the very deliberate result of many hard working city staff as well as a committed community of residents and business people who constantly work to meet a high standard."