Despite the numerous challenges the city of Porterville has faced in the almost past two years, the city projects to actually have a small budget surplus for fiscal year 2021-2022.

In its report on the budget, city staff provided a summary of all the challenges the city has had to overcome as far as the budget is concerned. Over the almost past two years, the city has had to deal with a trifecta of adversity of sorts:

Wal-Mart deciding not place a Super Center at the Riverwalk Shopping Center off of Highway 190 and Jaye; the February 18, 2020 fire that destroyed the Porterville Public Library that killed Porterville Fire Captain Ray Figueroa and Firefighter Patrick Jones; and COVID-19.

Despite all this, the city projects a small surplus in the coming year. The Porterville City Council will consider the preliminary budget at its meeting on Tuesday and also will consider setting a public hearing on June 15 for the final budget. The meeting begins at 6:30 p.m.

The city expects its total tax revenue to be $29.52 million in 2021-2022. Expenses are projected to be more than $31.3 million.

But with the addition of an expected $2 million in state and federal revenue, the city actually projects a small surplus of $181,308. The city will also be able to fully fund its emergency reserves at $7.1 million.

BUSINESS

Although the ongoing pandemic has significantly impacted the retail industry, there continues to be significant interest by national-brand commercial retailers to locate in Porterville, primarily either on Henderson Avenue or Highway 190 commercial corridors,” city staff wrote in preparing the budget. A second Panda Express will be going into Porter's Crossing at Henderson and Prospect and city staff stated another prospective tenant should come to the site.

The development of a new four-story hotel continues to be planned on adjacent to the site.

Further retail development is proposed along Henderson Avenue to Highway Route 65, city staff reported.

Although the decision by Walmart not to construct the long-planned Super Walmart at Riverwalk Phase II has significantly hampered retailer recruitment efforts within the commercial center, the developer of Riverwalk Phase I continues to pursue major retailers,” city staff wrote.

The next major business to come to Porterville to the Riverwalk Shopping Center, city staff wrote, is Boot Barn, with construction anticipated to begin this year.

ROADS

Much of the city of Porterville will also continue to go through major road construction projects in the coming year. More than $47 million in ongoing and new road projects are set to go through construction or design in the coming year.

Construction on close to $22 million in street projects is expected to begin in the coming year, which include: Villa Street Reconstruction – Olive Avenue to Henderson Avenue ($8.25 million); Newcomb Street Reconstruction – Olive Avenue to Morton Avenue ($6.34 million); Main Street Reconstruction – Morton Avenue to Olive Avenue ($3.30 million); Henderson Avenue Rehabilitation – Westwood Street to Patsy Street ($3.10 million); and Montgomery Avenue Reconstruction – Jaye Street to H Street ($760,000).

In addition another $26.5 million in previously appropriated proposed street projects will continue to be designed in the coming year including: Morton Avenue Reconstruction – Westwood Street to Plano Street ($16.92 million); Grand Avenue Reconstruction – Henrahan Street and Leggett Street ($3.22 million); Westwood Street Reconstruction – Henderson Avenue to Westfield Avenue ($2.84 million); Union Avenue Reconstruction – Indiana Street to Jaye Street ($2.66 million); Plano Street Rehabilitation – State Route 190 to Vandalia Avenue ($500,000); and Date Avenue Reconstruction – Jaye Street and H Street ($350,000).

One of those projects — the Newcomb Reconstruction between Olive and Morton is on the Council agenda on Tuesday.

City staff reported design on the project is nearly complete and construction should begin in the spring or summer of 2022.

LIBRARY

The city has entered into a 6-year lease for a temporary library to be located in an 8,000-square foot space next to Grocery Outlet on D Street/Olive Avenue. The temporary library will open sometime in 2021.

The city will use $1.34 million in insurance money from the library fire for the temporary library with most of that money going to the lease ($120,000) and equipment (a little more than $1 million). In addition the city will have an electric vehicle mobile library funded by a state library grant award.

FIRE, PUBLIC SAFETY, ROADS

After the library fire an investigation was done by a Serious Accident Review Team, SART, and determined the Porterville Fire Department was understaffed. The city has applied for a federal SAFER grant that will provide for six more firefighters.

In addition it was determined one fire chief wasn't enough to oversee administration and operational duties. Funds from Measure I, the sales tax increase passed by Porterville voters in 2018 to fund public safety and roads, will be used for a deputy fire chief.

Despite the tough times, city staff stated funds from Measure I are better than expected with a reserve of $10.33 million. City staff is proposing a total of $10.8 million be allocated from Measure I with $3.26 million going to the police department, $1.33 million going to the fire department and $6 million going to roads.

EAGLE MOUNTAIN CASINO

Of course the relocation of Eagle Mountain Casino to near the Porterville Municipal Airport is also a major development for the city. The casino is scheduled to open in the fall of 2022.

The city is funding significant water projects at a cost of $36 million to be financed by certificates of participation. Included is a tertiary wastewater treatment facility as part of the Eagle Mountain project at a cost of $17 million. The Tule River Tribe will pay a portion of the cost for that facility.

NEW BALLFIELD WANTED

One of the priority projects for 2022-2022 the council has identified is a lighted baseball ballpark that would replace Porterville Municipal Ballpark.

CITY POPULATION

The State Department of Finance recently released its population totals for the state and has determined the City of Porterville's population is now 59,571. That's an increase of 80 over the previous year. The council should approve certification of that population figure as part of its consent calendar on Tuesday.

The meetings are livestreamed on YouTube. Public comments may be submitted to CouncilMeetingComments@ciporterville.ca.us and will be read aloud for Council consideration during Oral communications or during any public hearings as applicable. Members of the public are encouraged to submit comments prior to 6:30 p.m., Tuesday to participate in the meeting. Staff will periodically check for emails submitted after 6:30 p.m., however it’s not guaranteed that those emails will be read prior to Council action.

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