Mayor Pat Paul announced that 2014 was a pivotal year for the City of Oakdale in her annual State of the City address on Wednesday at the Bianchi Community Center.
Her presentation, titled “Road to Recovery,” covered an overview of the city’s operations and highlights from last year as well as future ventures.
“The biggest thing is financial stability,” Paul said, noting that the November passage of Measure Y continuing the half-cent sales tax helped greatly.
Paul showed that the city currently has 71 full-time employees and a budget that has the majority spent on public safety.
With the city contracting its fire services last year with Stanislaus Consolidated Fire Protection District, Paul said that Oakdale was able to keep open its second fire station at Bridle Ridge.
Paul pointed out that the police department was able to increase its staffing with the addition of two more positions added to the sworn officer ranks and increase its communications and records personnel by being the contract dispatch agency for Newman Police Department.
Paul said she was pleased to see some emerging businesses with the recent opening of Family Veterinary Care and the planned Fred’s Firearms Gun Range.
The revamping of Taco Bell on East F Street, the demolishing and reconstruction of McDonalds, the remodel of the former Kentucky Fried Chicken into a Der Wienerschnitzel, and the new construction of Bank of Stockton along the same route were underscored as the city’s commercial image improves.
“What we need are more entrepreneurs,” Paul said, stating she’d like to see more development for commercial and retail space in the city. “We are losing so much money in retail.”
Paul addressed some future city ventures and said many of the streets in the city needed work.
“Every time I go over one, I think this one needs to be done too,” Paul said.
Paul also talked about upcoming city projects of the Valley View River Trail and South Yosemite Community Park.
“Dorada Park is 21 years old and needs to be fixed too,” Paul said. “The community is going to kick-in to help, but we need to rally to raise $100,000.”
The second-term mayor asked the audience for input regarding what to do with the city-owned historic church on E Street and the Hershey Center. An open house for both is planned for Friday, Feb. 6 at 10 a.m.
Goals for the city for 2015, according to Paul, included an increase in law enforcement staffing, improving park maintenance and street repair, and addressing the vagrancy problem that has burdened many residents and merchants recently.
“We need to treat them (the homeless) with respect, but there are things we need to do,” Paul said. “Tightening our laws and working with service organizations that want to help may be a start.”
The Mayor’s State of the City address was sponsored by the Oakdale Chamber of Commerce.
Mary Guardiola, CEO of the chamber, said there were over 120 people in attendance at this year’s event with 30 percent being first time attendees.
“I believe this increase is due to the slight upswing in economy,” Guardiola said. “The Chamber is proud to host this important event for the City of Oakdale and the Oakdale community.”