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Mayor delivers State of City to packed house

ENCINITAS — While focusing on the city’s accomplishments, Mayor Maggie Houlihan also acknowledged the challenges facing the entire nation during the present economic crisis in her State of the City address Feb. 11.
Houlihan stressed the positive impact of the city’s conservative budgeting process. “We have been prudent,” she said in an interview after the meeting. “We aren’t in the same situation as some other cities.”
In her speech, Houlihan cited several capital projects that came to fruition in 2008. The long-awaited Encinitas Community Library was completed at a price of $20 million. With its popularity soaring, the library is now the third most visited library out of the county’s 33 library system.
“As a retired librarian, I find it especially gratifying to see people leaving the library, arms laden with books, magazines, CDs, DVDs and other materials,” Houlihan told the crowd.
The city also purchased and rehabilitated the new consolidated Public Works Facility after years of being housed in cramped quarters between the former Pacific View Elementary parking lot and City Hall. Houlihan said basic infrastructure projects such as the repaving of Encinitas Boulevard and sidewalk improvements in Leucadia were also among the accomplishments of the previous year.
Houlihan said the solar panels installed on the roof of City Hall showed initiative. “This is an indication of the types of smart, clean and green investments that we (the city) will continue to make,” she said.
Councilwoman Teresa Barth said that hearing the State of the City address puts each accomplishment into perspective, but that trials for the city also lie ahead. “I think our greatest challenge is going to be a financial one,” she said. “We are well-positioned to weather the storm,” she said while acknowledging that revenues from sales taxes and property taxes are down. “This is something that is happening all over the state.”
Houlihan said that while some projects would be scaled back due to the economic conditions, others would move ahead as planned. “We’re going to look at some of our larger capital projects and make strategic decisions based on higher priorities,” she said. Currently, projects are categorized in a three-tier system.
“The general plan update is in tier one,” Houlihan said. The city’s blueprint document is crucial to the city’s vitality, she said. Barth also stressed the importance of modernizing the document. “The general plan update is only going to succeed with strong community participation,” she said.
Houlihan said that increasing the city’s revenue base was key in the coming year. “One of the best things we can do is to continue to maintain the amenities of this city in order to make it a welcoming environment,” she said.
“As long as the city keeps the beaches clean, the tourists coming and the pot holes filled, most people will be satisfied,” Leucadia resident John Dalton said.