Economy to dominate next GV council’s priorities |

Economy to dominate next GV council’s priorities

After ballots are cast in November and two council members are seated in Grass Valley, all five will be faced with tough tasks.

As the recession continues, the economy will weigh on all council members’ minds – declining revenue and a difficult businesses climate will require tough decisions about core city services and economic growth, said City Administrator Dan Holler.

At the same time, council members can’t lose sight of the big picture, giving up community character and quality of life to make things better in the short-term, he added.

“How do you promote a good economy while also maintaining quality development?” Holler said.

Downtown Association Executive Director Howard Levine agreed that the economy will continue to dominate the council members’ time.

“City staff and council can weather the next couple years; it will be very lean, though. Expectations will have to be moderated,” Levine said. “We survived at one time at this level.”

As the economy comes back, prioritizing what gets funded first also will take some thinking on the council members’ part, Holler said.

That also means staying within the city’s means, said Mayor Lisa Swarthout.

“The council sets policy that staff has to implement, so if it’s pie in the sky, nothing gets done,” she said.

For potential new council members coming in, Swarthout offered this advice:

“The biggest challenge is to buckle down and learn all the issues. You need to be open and active in the process,” Swarthout said. “It’s hard if you are a single-issue person.”

Beyond the budget, the council will face new developments including Loma Rica Ranch, contend with uncertainties in the state budget, leverage the Redevelopment Agency as it expands, consider public transit and the formation of a joint powers authority among fire departments, and consider marijuana dispensaries, regardless of whether Proposition 19 passes in November to legalize marijuana.

“Then, every council has the constant unknowns – like the backyard chickens issue before them now,” Holler said.

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