DOWNEY - On a sunny, spring afternoon last Friday, Mayor Anne Bayer encouraged city officials, community members and local business leaders to remain hopeful despite a sluggish economic recovery for the city and its residents alike.Dozens of residents were present at Rio Hondo Event Center as Bayer shared a brief State of the City address, highlighting forthcoming projects from each city department as well as acknowledging Downey's current economic outlook. "It's tough times out there for businesses and people," said Bayer who shared that the city's unemployment rate hovers near 10.7 percent. "Sales tax is down and the [city] hiring freeze is still in place, but we're doing better than the county and better than the state." With layoffs and furloughs becoming the norm in many city governments across the state, Bayer praised both current and past city staff members who doubled the city's general fund reserves that have sustained city services and jobs since the economic downturn. "We are doing fabulous in a time that's not so fabulous," Bayer said. "It's because we have good people living here supporting our businesses." Though optimistic, Bayer said more budget cuts might have to be made if the city's economy continues to lag. In addition to city finances, Bayer also acknowledged many new features and programs that will be unveiled by the city including the use of automatic license plate recognition technology by the Downey Police Department. After recognizing Fresh and Easy Neighborhood Market and Porto's Bakery, which are expected to open this year, Bayer did comment on Tesla Motors, applauding the automakers' most recent steps towards opening a 51 acre plant on the former NASA site. Bayer also highlighted the city's revamped website, which launched on Thursday.
********** Published: April 2, 2010 - Volume 8 - Issue 50