They have watched their city’s budget deficit slowly shrink for four years, but on Tuesday the Rohnert Park City Council bent under the accumulating — and rising — weight of retirement and medical benefits and unanimously agreed to declare a fiscal emergency.
It will be up to Councilwoman Gina Belforte whether Rohnert Park residents see one of their public swimming pools, which has been closed since 2010, reopened this year.
The Rohnert Park City Council unanimously approved its city manager’s request to look into hiring an assistant city manager, but not without pressing home the message that they wanted economic development to go to the top of the to-do list.
As it turns 50, Rohnert Park still outwardly resembles the vision that led to its creation in 1962: A tightly planned suburb of look-alike neighborhoods, each with its own school and small-town amenities of parks, pools and convenient shopping centers. Change is under way in the form of major development projects on the city’s south, east and west edges.
The Rohnert Park City Council voted unanimously Wednesday morning to reappoint the three councilmembers running up for reelection, thus cancelling the city’s November council election. Mayor Jake Mackenzie, Councilman Gina Belforte and Councilman Joe Callahan will, barring the unlikely events of early retirement or recall, occupy the dais for four more years.
The three Rohnert Park councilmembers up for reelection this year have taken out nomination papers, indicating their intent to run for another term. No opponents have yet emerged to challenge Mayor Jake Mackenzie, Councilwoman Gina Belforte and Councilman Joe Callinan in their bids for four more years in office. Prospective candidates have until Aug. 15 to file nomination forms with 20 signatures.
The Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria casino resort next to Rohnert Park will be connected to the city’s sewer system under a deal approved by the City Council Tuesday. ‘It is the environmentally superior alternative,’ Mayor Jake Mackenzie said of the plan, which means the tribe will not build its own wastewater treatment plant or dispose of treated water on its Wilfred Avenue reservation.
Rohnert Park officials are gingerly exploring the idea of asking voters to extend a temporary sales tax that has been critical to restoring the city’s finances. Rohnert Park residents approved Measure E — a five-year, half-cent tax — in 2010. It took full effect this year and is projected to bring in $2.4 million. It has helped draw down the city’s deficit to $330,000 from $2 million last year.