by Atascadero City Manager, Rachelle Rickard
Earlier this year, Mayor Heather Moreno and the members of the Chamber of Commerce developed a terrific idea for our City Council and staff members to meet with local residents in an informal setting, away from City Hall and out in various local neighborhoods, to share current information about the City and learn from our community members about what’s on their minds. That idea evolved into our “Talk on the Block” town hall meetings, which were held in several locations throughout town in May, June and July. At each of these sessions, City staff members gave a brief presentation sharing various facts about the City and each of the departments within the City.
For example, did you know?
- Atascadero has a population of just over 30,000 people, with a median age of 38.2 years and that contained within the City’s 26 square miles, there are 11,431 households.
- Cities do not receive the same amounts in taxes per resident. Atascadero receives the lowest revenue per capita in Sales Tax, in Property Tax and in General Fund revenues among all SLO County cities.
- The City of Atascadero receives about $657 per resident in general fund revenues. The City of Paso Robles receives almost double that (see the chart below).
- Each year, the staff of Atascadero’s Police Department and Dispatch Center responds to over 28,000 calls for service and our Fire Department responds to 3,300 calls for service.
- Our Public Works staff beautifully maintains 105 acres of parks and open space, along with 145 miles of City-maintained roadways; and thanks in great measure to the Sales Tax Measure F-14-funded roads projects; the City’s Pavement Condition Index (PCI) has improved over the course of the past four years.
- On average, 1,400,000 gallons of sewage flow through Atascadero’s wastewater system each day.
- Our Recreation Division offers over 500 classes to the community per year and over 2,100 local athletes participate in our sports programs.
- The staff at the Charles Paddock Zoo manages and cares for over 300 animals of 93 different species, most of which are endangered.
- Central Reception at City Hall provides answers and information in response to over 21,000 phone calls each year.
- Our Community Development Department will perform about 4,200 inspections this year and over 1,000 permits will be issued.
- According to ClearGov.com, the City spends less per capita on administration than 408 (of the 481) California Cities.
After the 15 minute presentation, residents were able to share concerns and ask questions of staff about any topic related to the City of Atascadero. We were extremely pleased with the good turnout for each event, the active engagement and great questions we received from our community members and the information we were able to provide to them.
We’re also very excited about the amount of new development and construction activity in town, with numerous projects either currently underway or recently opened. Just some of these projects include Wild Fields Brewhouse, SLODOCO, the La Plaza Project, Dunbar Brewing, the Raconteur Room, Colony Market & Deli, Jamba Juice and Habit Burger, all located within or near the downtown area. Then there’s the Hilton Home2Suites hotel at Del Rio and El Camino Real; the new Starbuck’s on West Front Road near Holiday Inn Express; and Santa Maria Brewing at Curbaril and San Luis Avenue. Every one of these projects and businesses offer the potential to bring new jobs and revenue to the City.
We believe that participants at our Talk on the Block town hall events came away with a much better understanding of how the City manages our resources in a fiscally responsible manner, consistently protecting and stretching our taxpayer’s dollars as far as possible, while doing as much as we can, for as many as we can, as often as we can. We hope to hold future Talk on the Block meetings, to help keep our community better informed about what’s going on around town and to learn more about what’s on the minds of our citizens.
The City’s complete presentation can be found on our website by using this link Talk on the Block Presentation.