The City of Oakdale is in a far better shape, especially financially, than it was just six years ago, according to Mayor Pat Paul. Her comments came at the Chamber of Commerce’s State of the City Lunch at the Bianchi Community Center on Wednesday, Jan. 27.
After a Star Wars-themed introduction, courtesy of Paul’s husband Phil Stanwood – who went to school with George Lucas – Paul stated the address would be “brief and upbeat” giving the approximately 100 attendees a look into “where we were and where we’re going.”
Paul said that in 2006 the city was in gloomy times with expenditures over revenues and in 2008 the city’s reserves took a big hit to cover itself financially.
She pointed out that currently reserves have risen from a low of $1.8 million to over $3 million. Paul credited the city’s half-cent sales tax from Measures O and Y to make the city viable again.
Over 75 percent of those funds go towards the city’s public safety and in 2015 the city was able to bring its police department to 22 sworn members.
“A good ratio to have is one officer for every thousand residents,” Paul said. “As a city of 21,000, we’ve beat that for the first time in a long while.”
Paul also said that last year with the assistance of a grant, Oakdale was able to add three firefighters to its ranks stationed in the city.
The mayor also touched on the homeless situation, a growing problem in the city. Paul mentioned the Oct. 26 public city meeting it had with the county and the city’s activity with the county’s Homeless Prevention Task Force.
“As you know, this isn’t something government can do alone,” Paul said, calling on residents to partner with various church groups and non-profit organizations that are also trying to help.
In the presentation, Paul reviewed the work of various city departments throughout 2016.
While discussing the public works department which services 82 miles of city streets, over 2,000 lights, and 75 miles of sewer lines, she mentioned that an additional sewer pipe from the city to the sewer plant is expected to be built. The pipe, which will be exposed when it crosses the Stanislaus River, will be covered by a bike/walking trail bridge.
The city also saw its airport fuel sales triple over 2015.
Park issues were mentioned, including the renovation of the Dorada Park play park area done by donations and a cadre of volunteers.
“The community came forward like I’ve never seen it,” Paul said, also mentioning a large donation from the Gilbert family.
Paul said delays have been hampering the skate park planned for South Yosemite Avenue.
According to Paul, the city had to wait for PG&E to re-route power lines and is now waiting on Comcast to handle its lines in the area. Paul said that according to regulations, AT&T has to wait 90 days after Comcast before it can take care of its lines, thus delaying the park further.
“I hope I’m not getting all the government I paid for,” Paul quipped, referring to a Will Rogers quote. “If you know anyone at AT&T, tell them ‘come on, let’s get this thing going.’”
Paul also discussed the city’s economic development, mentioning new businesses that came to the city and 87 new homes built along with plans for a senior living center near West F Street and Oak Avenue.
“I was really impressed with all the positive movement within the city that the mayor pointed out,” Oakdale Chamber of Commerce CEO Mary Guardiola said. “There’s a noticeable economic upswing which is benefitting not only city services, but business in Oakdale