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Where Do the Cities of the Inland Empire Go From Here in 2013?

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In 2012 the city of San Bernardino filed for financial protection in the federal bankruptcy court in Riverside and other cities in the Inland Empire are knocking at the door.

The City Council of Rialto will be asking the citizens to vote on raising the utility tax by eight percent to help shore up a budget deficit and the city might revisit seeking a petroleum tax next year.

The City of Fontana is reeling from a decrease in their revenues when the state took away its vehicle license fees while the cities of Grand Terrace and Colton are suffering from the loss of redevelopment funds.

In Riverside County, we have the newly created cities of Wildomar, Eastvale, Jurupa Valley and Menifee all evaluating the possibility of disincorporation because of funds taken away by the state. If they dissolve then the responsibility of governing will revert back to county government.

Then the question becomes where will the county get the dollars to provide the services to these citizens? All of the cities in the state are wrestling with the state’s realignment of prison overcrowding and according to preliminary reports from public safety organizations crime is on the rise. This has put an additional burden on local governments to find solutions as they continue to try to manage their own financial crises.

Within those cities the public education community will have to find solutions to better educate and bring all children’s Academic Performance Levels up to the standard 800 test score benchmark set by the state. Also they will have to reduce the high dropout rate while educating the students for the workforce.

Many employers have complained in the past that many students do not have the skill sets that make them employable. I would encourage all local business owners to have meetings with school board members to assist with curriculum development that will graduate students with employable skills.

So where does these civic leaders go and what should they do? I would suggest they reach out to all elected leaders and forge partnerships that will provide common services to their citizens. Services like public safety, libraries, transportation, parks, waste management should be explored for shared costs. Not all services can be shared but city governments should explore every savings until we are no longer teetering at the edge of fiscal cliffs. I say “cliffs” because the federal, state and some private corporations all have cliffs they are trying to avoid falling off. We are all aware of the financial issues our federal government is currently struggling to address. And closer to home, some private employers are laying people off or consolidating services.

Kaiser Permanente in Fontana has announced they are removing over 200 jobs in Fontana and taking them out of state.

In addition the retirement and pension plans of local governments must be evaluated for reasonable sustainability.

Exactly where we will go in 2013 will be determined by the elected representatives and citizens of each city working together in order for the Inland Empire to thrive.

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