FOLSOM — Folsom City Manager Evert Palmer did not disappoint the sellout crowd that came to hear Mayor Kerri Howell report on the State of the City at Lake Natoma Inn on Jan. 16.
Due to a seasonal illness, Howell was unable to attend the Folsom Chamber of Commerce luncheon. As the mayor’s understudy, Palmer delivered an energetic and informative review of the past year and forecast for 2014.
“It’s time for agility, for taking care of ourselves and others, and for investing in our community,” he said. “The joint mission of the city, the chamber and the Folsom Economic Development Corporation (FEDCorp) is to promote economic development – jobs.”
The unemployment rate in the city is 3.6 percent. Palmer compared it to Sacramento County’s, 8.1 percent and California’s 8.5 percent.
He mentioned two businesses that came to Folsom in 2013, and a couple on the line for 2014. Last year SAFE Credit Union bought the former Waste Connections Building on Iron Point Road, and will consolidate its existing offices to bring 250 employees there. Folsom Lake Volkswagen filled the last open dealership spot in the Folsom Automall.
A hotel that was due to start construction when the economy plummeted is back on track and building on Iron Point Road. Evert said a new company is opening a manufacturing plant in Folsom that will add another 200 to 250 employees, but he was unable to reveal the name. The official announcement came a few days later: VSP Global purchased the property at 151 Blue Ravine Road in the business park.
Evert said the three keys to economic development in Folsom are business retention, including expansion, attraction and incubation. It is fitting that an incubation center for startups of future businesses should be rooted in the heart of the Folsom Historic District. Velocity Venture Capital located its Entrepreneurs Campus in the former Granite School. It is a collaboration of entrepreneurs, technologists, developers and investors supported by the city, FEDCorp, the Chamber,and Folsom Cordova Unified School District.
“Education is the cornerstone of economic development,” he said.
The city has reached final resolution of issues with the state relating to the former redevelopment properties. Folsom is the first city in California to have its financial plan approved. With authorization to go forward, the city will improve business opportunities in those areas through infrastructure improvements.
Folsom processed 325 housing permits in 2013.
Folsom Plan area
Folsom is in the final phases of a $900 million financing program for the 3,600 acres between Highway 50 and White Rock Road that was brought into the city when the Sacramento Local Agency Formation Commission approved the annexation on Jan. 18, 2012. The plan calls for 10,000 residences and 23,000 residents. Work is expected to start by the next calendar year.
Palmer reported that a half billion dollars of purchasing evaporated in Folsom during the recession, said Palmer.
In 2013, Folsom recouped $100 million. The ice rink proved popular, with 30,000 visitors. Many of them extended their visit to enjoy the Historic District.
Folsom was successful in getting the AMGEN Stage 2 Individual Time Trial on May 12, the second day of the California bicycle tour. The Time Trial will be seen in a two-hour segment on NBC Sports.
The city is seeking proposals from all Folsom professional artists to create original artwork that will be awarded to the winner of the Stage 2 Time Trial and the Women’s Invitational Pro Time Trial.
Groundbreaking for the Johnny Cash Trail is expected this spring. The trail is 2.5 miles long. It goes through the Folsom Prison property and connects Folsom Lake with the Historic District. The city also issued a call for all U.S. artists to submit a design for a world-class public art installation featuring visual and audio art and interpretive information about the musician’s life and connection to Folsom.
Palmer said Folsom is prepared for the possibility that water in Folsom Lake may fall below the intake pipe supplying the city, a condition known as “dead pool.” The city is identifying alternative water supplies, he said. “Folsom uses a small amount of the water in Folsom Lake. We are part of a bigger solution.”
Palmer also reported that Folsom is operating with 30 percent fewer employees and a 30 percent budget reduction compared with 2008. Police and fire departments are taking volunteer applications for the Citizens Assisting Public Safety training that starts March 12. The fire department responded to 6,000 emergency incidents in 2013.
The 2013 Folsom Leadership Class selected the Folsom Zoo Sanctuary as the recipient of its class gift. The sanctuary is celebrating its 50th anniversary. The class created and installed interactive signage about the animals.
In December the City Council approved the mPOWER Folsom PACE (Property Assessed Clean Energy) program. It provides financing for energy efficiency upgrades or renewable energy installations. Loans are repaid via annual assessments on property tax bills. The program is expected to roll out in March.
Palmer invited all Folsom residents to share their thoughts and ideas for the General Plan update online at folsom2035.com.
2014 Folsom City Council
Mayor Kerri Howell first joined the Folsom City Council in 1999. She served as mayor in 2012 and as vice mayor in 2002 and 2006. Howell is president of Atlantic Consulting, Inc, which specializes in civil and corrosion engineering. Ernie Sheldon was elected vice mayor for 2014. Steve Miklos, Andy Morin and Jeff Starsky are council members.