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Mayor has message of hope despite budget cuts

OCEANSIDE — Mayor Jim Wood delivered a message of hope during the State of the City Address on Feb. 19 in a 15-minute video presentation that summed up Oceanside’s budget cuts and focused on the city’s accomplishments in 2008.
The high-production video mixed the mayor’s speech with event footage and heartfelt sound bites from city staff and residents to illustrate a year of park openings, affordable housing construction, clean water and recycling programs, community art and a 32 percent drop in crime.
The video address sent a positive message in uncertain times. “It was upbeat for what we are experiencing,” Councilman Jack Feller said.
“2009 will be challenging times for all of us personally and professionally,” Wood said. “I don’t need to tell people anymore that there’s a problem. We’re looking at it.”
“The city’s budget is balanced due to the cutbacks made last spring and further cutbacks will have to be made,” Wood said.
Oceanside had the foresight to see the economic downturn early and take action. The recent drop in the housing market raised a red flag and the city paid attention. “When we started seeing down times in the housing market we knew we had to plan in advance,” City Manager Pete Weiss said.
“In 2008, we addressed this issue before we really had a crisis, eliminating spending wherever possible,” Wood said. “We adjusted and fine-tuned our operations.”
In tightening its belt, the city eliminated 17 positions and cut its budget by $4.5 million in 2008.
The city’s hope lies in further economic development. “We need to balance the demand for services, with our ability to pay for those services,” Wood said. “Economic development is the way to pay for those services.”
Development in 2008 brought the Wyndham Resorts, PacBell Lofts mixed-use project and Oceanside Museum of Art expansion. On the economic front looms the recently opened Pacific Coast Business Park, construction of the CityMark mixed-use project and S.D. Malkin Resort Hotel in the downtown area, and soon to be built The Pavilion shopping center on Mission Avenue.
Weiss said further budget adjustments will be considered after the city studies the recently approved state budget and economic stimulus package.
The first in a series of budget workshops will be held March 25.
The Oceanside State of the City Address will re-air on KOCT channel 19 on Feb. 27.

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