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Mayor’s State Of The City Focuses On Freedom And Kindness
Tait says pension relief is key to City’s future fiscal health
ANAHEIM, CA - (January 31, 2012) - In today's State of the City address, Anaheim Mayor Tom Tait focused on three topics: the City's fiscal outlook, economic freedom and creating a culture of kindness. Presented before an audience of more than 800 attendees, the mayor outlined his vision for a city that is resilient, fiscally healthy and tightly connected.

"Imagine an Anaheim that is truly connected," said Tait. "Where neighbors know neighbors, where people work together to keep their neighborhoods safe, where there are no lonely senior citizens, where there many watchful parent eyes on neighborhood children—keeping them not only out of harm's way but keeping them on the straight and narrow."

As part of his effort to create stronger, more connected neighborhoods, the mayor announced that the City will be partnering with NextDoor, a free, private social network which allows residents to connect with their neighbors. Describing it as a "Facebook for neighborhoods," the mayor said he believed that "when people connect, good things happen."

Despite having to steer the City through a major budget reduction in his first year in office, the mayor said Anaheim is in good shape: "What is the state of our City? In a nutshell, Anaheim is strong, it's healthy, and it's happening."

Early in his remarks, Tait introduced his fellow city council members and applauded the teamwork of the council. His speech also highlighted accomplishments from the previous year and applauded City staff for their hard work and dedication to serving the community.

Tait spent some time walking his audience through a top-line explanation of the impact public pension obligations are having on the long-term fiscal health of the City.

"As pension costs continue to go up—and I believe that they will—this problem will only get worse," Tait said. "Pension costs for the last 10 years have gone up five-fold so that they account for 28% of individual salaries. And if we do nothing, they will continue to rise."

He called for action, saying, "Our economic future as a state will certainly be determined by how seriously the legislature, the voters and employee groups take these issues."

The mayor wrapped up his speech with a video tour of the City which showed residents helping each other in various ways and showcased local Anaheim talent singing and playing the song, "Lean On Me."

Below are highlights and excerpts from his 2012 State of the City speech. The State of the City luncheon, which was hosted by the Anaheim Chamber of Commerce, was held at the City National Grove of Anaheim. The speech and the video can be viewed on the city's website, www.anaheim.net.

    ANAHEIM MILESTONES FROM 2011
  • The dedication of Ronald Reagan Park, in honor of the late president's 100th birthday.
  • Transportation improvements to the 91 and 57 freeways. The work is being accomplished in conjunction with CalTrans and OCTA, and will result in shortened commutes thus providing more time with families.
  • Anaheim schools are progressing and students are thriving. Anaheim Union High School District students saw 83% of its seniors bound for college. "We cannot have a great City without great schools," said Tait.
  • Anaheim continues to grow in its reputation as a cultural arts community, with the success of Anaheim Ballet, the Chance Theater, MUZEO, the Orange County Symphony, and local arts events. "I'm pleased to say the arts are thriving in Anaheim," said Tait.
  • Anaheim Coves opened as a new outdoor recreation area for residents and visitors to enjoy.
  • In sports, the Angels signed superstars Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson; the Ducks' Corey Perry was named the NHL Hart Trophy winner; USA Volleyball continues to thrive in Anaheim, with the U.S. Women's National Team's early qualification for the London 2012 Olympic Games, and the Men's Team on their way to qualification as well.
    LOOKING AHEAD TO ANAHEIM MILESTONES FOR 2012
  • The Anaheim Convention Center, LEED-certified and the largest convention center on the west coast, will open its Grand Plaza by this time next year. "The new outdoor space will show off our beautiful southern California weather and give visitors yet another reason to choose our convention center," said Tait.
  • The Anaheim Public Utilities Canyon Power Plant will open and provide an additional source of reliable energy. The energy produced at Canyon Power Plant will help to keep the City's electric rates as low as possible.
  • Orange County's largest employer, The Disneyland Resort, will open the much anticipated Cars Land and remodeled California Adventure Park. "I have been privileged to have some sneak peeks at this and you're all in for a real treat," said Tait.
  • The highly anticipated ARTIC will begin construction later this year, "which will create thousands of jobs for the region," said Tait. "When completed, this station will be Orange County's Grand Central Station and will provide residents and visitors with a central hub to move around the region."
  • In addition, the Anaheim Rapid Connection system, a fixed-guideway system in the Resort District, continues in its planning phases. "We're tackling issues like route options, available technology and fiscal challenges as we work to move this project forward," said Tait.

FISCAL RESPONSIBILITY

The Anaheim Enterprise Zone
Mayor Tait emphasized the benefits of doing business in the City. On Feb. 1, 80% of Anaheim businesses will benefit from the City's new status as an official state enterprise zone. "What this means is that a majority of all Anaheim businesses will be able to take advantage of tax credits and tax incentives to invest in their business, creating more economic activity and more jobs."

Regulatory Relief
"One of the most important areas to expand freedom is entrepreneurial freedom," said Tait. In 2011 he introduced the Regulatory Relief Task Force, and recommendations were unveiled to support business owners by reducing costs, decreasing delays and improving certainty for local businesses in Anaheim. "My goal is to have Anaheim be the island of freedom in this overly regulated state," said Tait.

Budget and Pensions
Though the City is operating on a balanced budget, the City still faces budget challenges. Of concern, said Tait, are personnel costs in the forms of salary and pensions. The City provides services to its residents and businesses through its employees, whether that is a police officer a firefighter, the engineer, the planner, the maintenance worker, and others. The challenge, the mayor explained, is how to provide services while faced with the costs associated to employ the workforce. "The Anaheim way is to work together (with employee groups) to solve problems and I'm confident that we will work together to solve this challenge as well."

ANAHEIM AND THE NBA
Anaheim remains at the forefront to attract an NBA team. Mayor Tait emphasized Anaheim and Orange County's population can easily support an NBA franchise. "Everyone in the room knows that Orange County is not Los Angeles," Tait said in response to the argument Orange County is simply a suburb of Los Angeles. Anaheim, in fact, attracts more than 25 million guests every year, and Orange County more than 40 million visitors annually, who come to enjoy events at the Convention Center, Angel Stadium, Honda Center, and The Disneyland Resort. "We have our own unique identity and population. A county of three million people can easily support an NBA franchise. There is no doubt Anaheim is NBA ready. I'm confident that we will get a team."

ANAHEIM'S CULTURE OF KINDNESS AND RESILIENCY
"Government leaders are always working on a community's physical infrastructure needs; what I would also like to address in my time as mayor is something that is equally—if not more—important: our community's social infrastructure needs. A city with a core virtue of kindness is a city that is in much better shape to deal with shrinking budgets and reduced services," said Tait.

"There is no doubt that our economic problems are affecting families in a very real way. A government doesn't know when a particular family is in need. But the people in our lives generally do—whether it is one of our neighbors, another parent at our kid's school or a friend from church. And when people are in need, friends and neighbors can step up with small or large acts of kindness. Anaheim has a rich tradition of this, but we need to improve—now more than ever."

Mayor Tait's Hi Neighbor program continues to be a strong emphasis on neighbors connecting with neighbors for three core purposes: neighborhood watch, emergency preparedness and community building.

"In fact, studies have shown that knowing and caring for your neighbors drastically improves a person's quality of life. Having a connection with your neighbors has been proven to reduce crime, improve safety, reduce loneliness, save lives—I could go on and on."

The mayor's Hi Neighbor initiative caught the attention of a federal program last year, and as a result Anaheim was selected as one of seven pilot communities across the country chosen to study improved homeland security through community resiliency. The Community and Regional Resiliency Institute (CARRI) is a program funded by the federal government.

In support of the Hi Neighbor program, Tait today announced the launch of the City's partnership with NextDoor, a free, private social media network which will allow residents to connect with their neighbors. NextDoor Anaheim will provide a tool by which neighbors can organize a neighborhood party, sell a bicycle their child has outgrown, or alert neighbors to critical information.

"I cannot overstate the need to improve our social infrastructure. It is what a mayor should be talking about. It is what a city should be doing. When people are connected, a city is resilient. And resiliency is built by people through acts of kindness," said Mayor Tait.

A transcript of the State of the City Address can be found at www.anaheim.net, and the "Lean on Me" video can be seen at www.youtube.com/CityofAnaheim.


Media Contact: Ruth Ruiz 714.765.5060more city news

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ABOUT ANAHEIM – The City of Anaheim, founded in 1857, is one of the nation's premier municipalities and is one of California's most populous cities. Anaheim covers 50 square miles with more than 346,000 residents and more than 2,950 City employees. The municipal corporation's annual budget is $1.6 billion. Anaheim supports a thriving business community with companies such as Carl Karcher Enterprises, Inc., L-3 Communications, Pacific Sunwear, and Disneyland Resort. Successful sports franchises call Anaheim home, including Angels Baseball, Anaheim Ducks, the U.S. Men's National Volleyball Team, and the 2012 Olympic Games Silver Medal winning U.S. Women's National Volleyball Team. Anaheim also boasts world-class meeting and entertainment venues with the Anaheim Convention Center, LEED-certified and the largest on the west coast, Honda Center, City National Grove of Anaheim, Anaheim GardenWalk, and Angel Stadium of Anaheim. In addition, Anaheim embraces its vibrant cultural arts community, including the world-renowned Anaheim Ballet. Annually, Anaheim welcomes millions of visitors to the city, truly making it where the world comes to live, work and play. For more information, please visit www.anaheim.net.

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