ESCONDIDO — In front of hundreds of guests, Mayor Sam Abed reported the city is healthy, growing and sustaining business during the sixth annual State of the City address on Wednesday.
Abed discussed the city’s economic health, stating several times that efforts by the City Council and staff have led to an $8 million surplus over the past five years. He said it was quite the change since his becoming mayor in 2010 when the city held a $16 million deficit.
“We’ve done it without raising taxes or using reserves,” Abed said.
In addition, he said $1 billion has or will be invested from the private sector as a result of 25 current or completed projects. As a result of the economic status, the city’s bond rating has increased to a AA- from Standard & Poor’s, while 450 new businesses joined the community last year and 500 between 2010-14.
As a result, sales tax collections have swelled from $23 million to nearly $34 million since 2010.
“Today we have 25 significant projects in Escondido,” Abed said. “Yes, it’s billion with a B.”
The city also produced a short video championing its accomplishments touting award winning public and private education, the economy, the arts and a revitalized downtown.
In addition, Abed praised the efforts of Innovate 78, a company working with the five cities — Escondido, San Marcos, Vista, Carlsbad and Oceanside — to foster start-up companies as well as building upon established industries in each city.
Abed also told the audience of an aggressive $300 million plan, which includes $80 million in the next five years, to upgrade the city’s efforts to generate and deliver more recycled water.
He also showed support for Palomar Medical Center, which will relocate from downtown to the west side of the city. Abed also praised the investment from the Westfield Corp., which owns the mall and sunk $100 million into the retail center by adding a movie theater, workout facility and restaurants.
“It’s one of the best shopping centers in the region,” he said.
Prior to Abed’s speech, the City Council honored seven Escondido residents in various fields for their efforts to make the city a better place.
The audience rose to its feet for one, Dan Naylor or “Dan the Man,” who was honored with the Public Service Award. Naylor suffered a traumatic brain injury 20 years ago after a car accident, but was jubilant as Councilman Ed Gallo spoke of Naylor’s accomplishments.
Naylor has been a staple in the community helping people whenever possible.
Other awards were given to Vaughn North for community service for creating Escondido Shines!; Cameron Curry of Classic Academies for education; the Escondido National Little League for the youth award; dentist Dr. Leslie Bonar for veteran support; photographer David Zumaya for business; Zoe Sanchez Richardson for literacy; and Danny Sherlock, CEO of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater San Diego, was honored with the Mayor Leadership Award.