Gilroy Mayor Marie Blankley
Gilroy Mayor Marie Blankley
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In June the City Council approved our financial budget for fiscal years 2024 and 2025. For the next two years this budget drives the City’s spending and funding allocations within the limits of our revenue sources. As your mayor and a CPA by profession, I’d like to share with you what that budget says and the insight into city spending that it provides. 

Investment in Infrastructure

Streets—This budget continues for another two years our annual investment of $3.9 million for the maintenance of our city streets. Prior to this effort initiated by the Council in the last two-year budget cycle, the city was not funding nearly enough toward the upkeep of our city streets to prevent the continual decline in pavement conditions throughout the city. This year you can expect to see improvements to biggies such as Luchessa Avenue, Leavesley Road at the Outlets to the city limit line, and the Chestnut/10th Street intersection when the commercial project on that corner is complete. 

Fire Stations—$3 million has been allocated to bring aging fire stations up to modern standards. The Chestnut and Las Animas fire stations are the most aged, and remodels and upgrades funded in this budget will cover all but seismic improvements for these stations. In addition, critical equipment upgrades/replacements have been made for all fire stations.

This budget allocates the necessary funds to add modular buildings to the temporary fourth fire station in the Santa Teresa Fire District that will provide sleeping quarters, an office, a shower, and a kitchen to allow for 24-hour staffing, thereby improving emergency response times for the Santa Teresa Fire District with the same 24-hour staffing capability that exists at the Chestnut, Las Animas and Sunrise fire stations.

Utility (Sewer/Water) projects and programs—This budget creates a Utilities Department that will focus on water and wastewater system improvements for which we already have funding but lack the staffing to implement. New staff positions include a Director of Utilities, a Utilities Business Manager, two engineers, a Management Analyst and an Office Assistant.

10th Street Bridge—As part of the approved budget, work is underway for the design and CEQA (environmental work) portion of this critical east-west traffic circulation connector over Uvas Creek. The cost to actually construct the bridge sits at $27 million, $21 million of which we sought to obtain from a federal transportation grant. Unfortunately, we were recently notified that we did not get the grant and, consequently, will re-apply in the next grant cycle. Today’s existing resources are not enough to fund the construction of this bridge without federal grant assistance.

10th Street and Highway 101 Bridge Widening—Thanks to an $8 million grant award from the Measure B Highway Program, this budget includes the widening of the existing bridge overcrossing at the Tenth Street (Automall Parkway)/Highway 101/152 interchange to add one additional lane in each direction, including widening of the roadway between the intersections of Tenth Street/Automall Parkway/Chestnut Street and Highway 152/Camino Arroyo. 

Public Safety Staffing

This budget adds two police officers and two public safety communicators, positions critical to enhance emergency response, emergency call management and incident mitigation. In the second year of this two-year budget, we added two firefighters that will allow the interim fourth fire station to be staffed with a three-person engine 24/7.

Long-term Master Planning

The Civic Center Campus comprises the three blocks between Church and Dowdy streets from east to west, and between Sixth Street and Seventh Street from north to south. With the exception of the library and the police station, this campus is underutilized with buildings in various degrees of deterioration. This budget allocates $700,000 to commence the evaluation process of adding a Gilroy Community Center along with the potential redesign of other aged assets and including the city-owned Center for the Arts on Monterey and Seventh Street. 

Housing and Community Services

This budget creates a specifically-focused division, run by a Housing and Community Services manager, that will enable the City to make more concentrated efforts on affordable housing production, preservation and protection for our residents. 

Economic Development

The Sports Park—Expanding the Sports Park to include two NHL-size hockey rinks for programs and events operated by the Sharks Sports & Entertainment (SSE) is underway. Allocated in this budget are the costs for the City to: perform design and environmental work, construction for site grading, installation of site stormwater collection system and stormwater treatment facilities, sewer collection, water service distribution and joint trench. Construction of the actual ice facility will be financed through a revenue bond paid for by SSE.

Downtown alleys—Adding lighting and landscaping, decorative paving, common trash enclosures and other amenities are all part of the improvements to occur on Gourmet Alley from Fourth to Seventh Street, and on Railroad Alley from Lewis to Seventh Street. Design is complete and construction should begin this Fall. 

Gilroy Gardens and surrounding City-owned land—We have recently concluded the process of official publication required by Senate Bill 330, known as the Surplus Lands Act, for the entire 536 acres owned by the City in the vicinity of and including Gilroy Gardens. The conclusion of this process means that we are now in a position to receive formal proposals and explore all possible uses for this entire area.

Marie Blankley, CPA is the mayor of Gilroy.

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