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City leaders discuss opportunities, challenges at Santa Maria's 2019 State of the City address

Real City leaders discuss opportunities, challenges at Santa Maria's 2019 State of the City address
Posted at 5:39 PM, Oct 22, 2019
and last updated 2019-10-22 20:42:56-04

Keeping the economy robust and growing was the focus of this year's State of the City address in Santa Maria.

City leaders discussed what they believe the City of Santa Maria has been doing well, such as fostering a prosperous economy and low unemployment rate. Certain challenges were also highlighted during the meeting, including housing and homelessness.

"To all the employers and the chamber members gathered here today, your success is Santa Maria's success," said Alice Patino, Santa Maria Mayor.

Those in attendance at the 2019 State of the City address led by Mayor Patino and City Manager Jason Stilwell heard about things the city is doing well, things it can improve on, as well as projects in the works.

Some of the accomplishments city leaders spoke about ranged from prioritizing public safety to utilizing taxpayer dollars to pay for it.

"I think we know it is not our money, it is your money and that is the way we want it spent," Patino said.

The city, however, also faces some challenges like homelessness, housing prices and the upcoming 2020 Census count which can have long-lasting effects for local governments when receiving federal funding.

The city said they plan to continue prioritizing construction and development to continue promoting economic growth.

Glenn Morris, President of the Santa Maria Valley Chamber of Commerce, said the Town Center's new owners view the mall space as more of an activity center due to the changing retail landscape.

Town Center General Manager Donna Farrell was at Tuesday's State of the City address and said she feels optimistic about the future.

"As we grow with the city, I think we are going to see some very positive changes in the mall as well and we have some other leases in negotiation that I think will have a favorable impact on the city and that local area in Santa Maria," Farrell said.

Mayor Patino said prosperous businesses are key for the City of Santa Maria, as they generate sales tax and that revenue is used to provide services to the general public.