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City of Porterville
291 North Main Street
Porterville, CA 93257
(559)782-7499
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City Council

CITY OF PORTERVILLE
State of the City Address
December 2019

I want to thank the businesses honored today, you truly make our community a great place to live, work and play.

2019 has been an exciting year for the City of Porterville. Today I will go through a few of the accomplishments of the City and what to expect as we enter the New Year.

Finance

The Finance Department remains steadfast in keeping the City on track financially. For the 29th year, the Finance Department was awarded the Government Finance Officers Association's Certificate of Excellence in Financial Reporting.

Administrative Services

2019 has been a busy and productive year in the Administrative Services Department. The department has again earned recognition by the U.S. State Department for excellence as a Passport Acceptance Facility. Administrative Services has expanded its passport services and continued to grow in 2019, processing almost 1,500 passports. Also, the department continues its work behind the scenes in assessing risk and mitigating the city's exposures, while also actively working to ensure compliance with FPPC regulations, the Brown Act, for which the department produced over 300 records this year alone. The department has also been busy in 2019 recruiting and onboarding new City employees. Administrative Services successfully conducted recruitments for 32 ful-time positions; processed over 900 job applications; and administered almost 200 orientations for full-time and part-time new hires.

Police Department

Chief Eric Kroutil leads the Porterville Police Department which has had a positive year with regard to new staffing, increased community involvement and significant reductions in both violent crime and property crime.

The Department believes that the overall reduction in crime is a direct result of increased proactivity by officers. Officer initiated activity is on pace to increase by nearly 25% in 2019. This increased activity is due in large part to increased staffing levels made possible by the passage of Measure I in 2018.

To date, six additional sworn officers have been hired and are working in Patrol, representing a significant increase in availability to conduct proactive police work. Three additional officers have been hired as well, and after completing their training programs will continue to increase available staffing. In the next six to nine months, the nine personnel already hired will be joined by an additional seven sworn personnel, further enhancing the department's ability to address criminality occuring in our community. The passage of Measure I sends a strong message that this community supports its public safety departments.

Addressing criminal issues within our community are not the only activities the police department is involved in.

Department members participated in many community events as well. Some, but not all, of these events include Kids Fest, Porterville Celebrates Reading, Sierra K-9 Trials, Step Up Block Party, Coffee with a Cop events, Military Banner Ceremony, Junior Police Academy, and National Night Out. The Department also paricipates in the Iris Festival , Veteran's Day Parade, Christmas Parade and Santa in the Park.

While all these events were greatly enjoyed by department personnel, three others that we're especially honored to be a part of, were the second year of the Pink Patch Project resulting in a $5,000 donation to the Roger S. Good Cancer Treatment Center, the refurbishing and rededication of the A-4 Skyhawk static air display at the airport, and the refurbishing and rededication of the Vietnam era Huey Medical Helicopter at Veteran's Park.

The Porterville Police Department continues to believe that our community is our strongest ally and a critical and necessary component of ensuring our community is a place where people want to live, work, play and raise their families. They work extremely hard to strengthen that relationship on a daily basis.

Fire Department

In the past year the Porterville Fire Department has worked collectively to change their mission statement. The mission statement reads, "To safeguard and put duty above all." They have also established core values for the department, which are professionalism, leadership, integrity, vision, trust and compassion. These seeds of leadership, integrity, vision, trust and compassion. These seeds of leadership have been planted at the department to guide their daily actions. All Fire officers have taken leadership training over the past year to lay a solid foundation of diverse leadership. The goal of the Fire Department is to perform at its best on the community member's worst day.

Over the past year the department has responded to a total of 5,102 calls for service.

Some of the major milestones that have been reached this year:

  • The Code Enforcement Division has been reorganized to include a full-time code enforcement supervisor and two part-time code enforcement officers providing for 7 days a week coverage to the community.
  • With the passing of Measure I, the department has been able to hire one Battalion Chief for each shift, increasing each shift to 13 personnel, and establishing a non-safety Fire Marshal to provide for a higher quality of service to the public.
  • The department has entered into a partnership with the Joint Apprenticeship Commission, the main focus of which is to provide diversity in the work place.
  • Through the scheduled equipment replacement program, the department is changing its apparatus color to red with matching lettering to pay homeage to the history of the department.
  • The department was awarded an Assistance to Firefighter's Grant in the amount of $191,000 for the replacement of all self-contained breathing apparatus in the department.

The Fire Department continues to be active in the community and serves on the Porterville Military Academy Advisory Board and the Porterville High Medical Pathways Advisory Board.

In the coming year, they will continue to strive to increase the service quality through sound leadership and clear communication of the vision and direction for this department, decrease response times, and actively provide for cancer prevention in the work place.

Parks and Leisure

The Parks and Leisure Services Department added amenities and activities for our community. At a minimum based on reservations an estimated 85,000 people have utilized Murry Park with an additional over 40,000 utilizing the pool and 80,000 have enjoyed Zalud Park. New bike racks were installed at Murray and Zalud Parks. A new concrete ping pong table and zipline was also installed at Zalud Park. Veterans Park received new improvements with the addition of new picnic tables.

The Parks and Leisure Services Department began an effort to renovate various medians throughout the city using drought tolerant landscaping. The medians on Henderson Avenue kicked off the effort. The medians now use 80% less water than the previous landscape. The medians on Olive Avenue are scheduled to be completed in 2020.

The Porterville LIbrary has served the community for 111 years. They are open seven days a week and have served over 155,000 visitors in 2019, circulating nearly 220,000 library books. The Library has conducted 1,000 library programs with over 21,000 people in attendance. This year they saw the summer lunch program expand as well as the "Volun-Teen" program. The City of Porterville Library is definitely more than just books, it is people and programs!

Public Works

The Public Works Department continues to serve the community, ensuring that the infrastructure and transportation throughout the city is safe, reliable, and continually improved.

This year 6.7 miles of roadway was paved and approximately 35,000 square feet of potholes were filled. Nearly 16,000 tons of residential  waste and over 20,000 tons of commercial waste was processed.

We anticipate the delivery of two new CNG fueled refuse trucks by the end of this year and an additional 3 more trucks by the end of 2020. All 5 of these vehicles are funded through Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality (CMAQ) grants.

The Public Works Department also maintains the City's water infrastructure, ensuring we always have safe potable water. They repaired over 170 water services leaks and 12 water main breaks this year.

Phase one of the Transit Electrification Project is currently nearing completion with the installation of ten 200 kilowatt chargers at the Corporation Yard that are capable of charging our large transit busses in three hours and two 200 kilowatt chargers located at the Transit Station on D St.

Phase two of the Electrification Project will begin construction in June 2020, which will implement a fleet of 12 electric passenger vans to the transit system, as the City's Microtransit operation.

Engineering & Project Management

The newly formed Engineering and Project Management Department completed several projects in 2019. The projects included street, City facility, water and pedestrian improvement projects.

The rehabilitation of Plano Street from Henderson Avenue to Vandalia Avenue included: water line replacement, replacement of concrete curb ramps and distressed asphalt, and the microsurfacing and restriping.

Orange Avenue and Henderson Avenue Rehabilitation projects were also completed. The projects included replacing asphalt, curb ramps, and alley approaches. Traffic signal equipment at the Main Street and Wallace Street intersections along Orange Avenue were also updated as a part of the project.

The Animal Shelter Abatement Project was completed this year. The project was especially important  as it was the first phase in the construction of the City's new animal shelter to be located in the former Citbank building. Construction plans are anticipated to be submitted for permit review before the end of the year.

The City's municipal water well development program completed the drilling of well 37, which is located within the Summit Estates Two subdivision and two additional wells are in development.

Two lighted crosswalk projects are currently underway. Both are expected to be completed by the end of the year or early next year. The Rails-To-Trails Lighted Crosswalk Project includes the installationof the lighted crosswalk and improvements along the Rails-to-Trails at Oak, Harrison, and Mill Streets. The Olive Avenue Corridor Lighted Crosswalk Project includes the installation of six lighted crosswalks with improvements along Olive Avenue at Dameron, Carmelita, H, F, 3rd, and Holcomb Streets. These projects are funded with Active Transportation Program grants, Measure R, and local funding.

Community Development

The Community Development Department continues to process entitlements, promoting organized growth and development of the city. There are currently 215 single family and 190 multi-family residential units approved and under construction or in the process of starting construction. In addition to what has been approved, there are 361  planned single family units and 343 planned multi-family units being considered for approval. This is the result of working with the local development community to have adequate housing for all residents of Porterville.

The department was able to successfully assist the community with the administration of the Community Development Block Grant. Through the grant in 2019, nine households were assisted with down payment assistance to purchase their first home, three businesses were assisted with loans, 86 people participated in the First Time Home Buyer Education Class, a Habitat for Humanity Home was completed, and new park amenities were funded through the grant.

The City has partnered with Turning Point of Central California to develop a navigation center to assist in solving the homeless crisis. The navigation center will be located at the former Vine Street School and comprised of up to 15 emergency shelter beds, 15 transitional housing beds and provide wrap around services to assist individuals to become permanently housed. The navigation center is planned to open in the spring of next year.

Eagle Mountain Casino

The Tule River Tribe is a great community partner. This year we were able to successfully negotiate a Memorandum of Understanding for the relocation of the Eagle Mountain Casino. Subsequently the Tule River Tribe received its long awaited Federal approval and is now waiting on Governor Newsom's concurrence. Secretarial Determination this year. The project will create significant employment opportunities and provide extraordinary amenities for our community and visitors alike.

Retail Development

Retail development remains strong with the opening of Porter's Crossing at Henderson Avenue and Prospect Street. Porter's Crossing is home to Chipotle, Blaze Pizza, and The Habit Burger. Construction of Porter's Crossing 2 will begin soon and be home to a new Panda Express.

Porterville Marketplace remains a vibrant shopping center with construction underway for Bath and Body Works, which is scheduled to open in February 2020.

Harbor Freight will find their home in Porterville early next year at the corner of Jaye Street and Springville Avenue.

Downtown

Downtown continues to grow. This year Family Healthcare Network opened a new facility downtown, as well as, Taco Truck Cantina, Eddie's Dog House Grooming, and Red Rock Mercantile. The much anticipated opening of Fugazzi's Restaurant in the former Palace building will take place early next year.

Downtown

The Porterville Hotel has long been a part of Main Street and the Porterville community. Originallhy built in 1888, the building had seen many changes in its lifespan. In December 2013, the former Porterville Hotel burned down leaving a pile of rubble and complicated financial situation for the Redevelopment Agency.

The City was able to successfully acquire the site, have the site cleaned and prepared for development and sold to a developer. The project, which has been named Cornerstone, is currently under construction and will be completed next year. The building will be the new home of the Tulare County District Attorney and Public Defender.

This development continues the tradition set in motion by many community leaders of investing to continually improve our city.

Conclusion

2019 has been a great year for our community. We look forward to next year with the anticipation of even better times to come.

 

Mayor

Martha A. Flores

 

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