DOWNEY – Councilman Roger Brossmer is pushing an agenda of budget reform and technological advances, according to a list of priorities he released this week as he prepares to take over as Downey’s mayor.
While the mayoral position in Downey is ceremonial and carries the same weight as other council members, the city’s leaders have traditionally given the mayor authority and a platform to pursue his or her agenda.
Brossmer on Dec. 6 will replace outgoing Mayor Luis Marquez.
With economy still slumping, the city should take care to refine the way it does business, Brossmer said.
Brossmer wants to form an advisory board of former mayors to find out what has succeeded in the past.
He also is calling for the city to partner with the Downey Chamber of Commerce to make sure it continues to streamline the way it works with the business community.
Brossmer said Downey should be a regional leader in helping drive employment in the southeast Los Angeles County region. While Downey’s unemployment rate is high – about 9.6 Percent – surrounding communities are faring far worse.
Commerce’s unemployment rate is 22 percent and South Gate’s is 15 percent.
“The challenges of our neighbors become our challenges too,” Brossmer wrote, mentioning that people from surrounding communities often shop in Downey.
Several major developments are already in the works.
The Tierra Luna project at the old NASA site is expected to enter the public hearing stage soon. The Gateway Project on Firestone Boulevard is under construction. And Presbyterian Intercommunity Hospital has demolished the old Gallatin medical center to make way for a new medical complex.
Brossmer is also hoping to keep pushing the city into the computer age. He would like to allow residents to use credit cards to pay for city events and programs, such as recreation sports at city parks.
He also wants to prioritize the recognition of war veterans. Several times the last few months, Brossmer has mentioned during City Council meetings that he wants to publicly honor veterans. During his time as mayor, he hopes to finalize the design of a war memorial. In addition, he hopes to give veterans their families a forum at council meetings to give updates about their sons and daughters serving in other countries.
“We need to put a face on these wonderful individuals who are sacrificing so much for us,” he wrote.
Brossmer also wants to keep supporting the Downey Art Vibe, a not-for-profit art cooperative that has partnered with the city to bring art to downtown. Brossmer will also advocate for more use of the Columbia Memorial Space Center by school groups. Those familiar with the Space Center say Brossmer comes by the center often and asks questions and makes suggestions.
Brossmer also recognized the financial challenges being faced by Downey. Councilman Mario Guerra has warned that the city could soon face layoffs, saying the city’s pension payments are cutting deeply into the budget.
Brossmer said the city needs to focus on long-term budget fixes.
The city’s increase in pension costs are projected to reach $2 million the next fiscal year. Meanwhile, property taxes continue to plummet due to the depressed real estate market. On Wednesday, news broke that new mortgage applications tumbled for the third straight week. The city faces up to $10 million shortfall due to increased expenses and lower revenue, according to some city budget projections.
“This is our new reality and we need to begin to make the difficult decisions to adjust,” he wrote.
Here’s Brossmer’s entire address:
I am honored to be the Mayor for the City of Downey. As many of you know, I have family ties dating back to 1947, so I take this position quite humbly. At this time, I am both excited about the possibilities of this upcoming year, but also aware of the significant challenges.
Major concern: Budget. We can no longer continue to bridge our budget deficit with our reserves. We need to reduce costs while maximizing revenues. Focus now has to move from short term fixes, to long term systemic solutions. This is our new reality and we need to begin to make the difficult decisions to adjust. Ultimately, this will make us leaner, more competitive, and more nimble in delivering quality projects and quality of life measures to our residential and business citizens.
1. Continually increasing unemployment in Downey, but more so in our surrounding cities. Southeast LA County regionally acts as one large economic engine. The challenges of our neighbors become our challenges too. (Transportation, crime, local investment, etc.)
2. Foreclosures and pending foreclosures have reduced our property tax base
3. State budget continues to push poor policies riding the shoulders of cities. Mayor and Council responsibility to properly articulate and challenge these measures though our interface with State Senators, State Assembly members, and their staff.
Increase Revenue: Two ways to balance the books cut spending or increase revenues.
General Methods –
2. Energy Conservation
3. Business Incentives
4. Intelligent Planning
Specific Projects -
1. Tierra Luna – large retail base to increase sales tax base along with quality jobs with development of additional Office Medical Buildings Gallatin Medical Center – professional jobs created
2. Rancho Los Amigos (South Campus) – long term goal, but must continue to show progress.
3. Opening of Gateway Project – removal of blighted corner, increased amenities for residents, and additional sales tax revenue
First 100 days – in no particular order
1. Goal Setting – Jerry Caton did a great job for the City of Downey for the past 22 years. I will have the privilege of being mayor for our new city manager, Gilbert Livas. Important that council continues to identify and focus on maximizing our city’s resources through proactive measures. I commit to driving our council and staff through a group effort to set such important goals.
2. Branding – full implementation of Branding project. Best time to plan is when things are slower so we are ready to capitalize when the economy makes its eventual. I want to continue to aggressively pursue economic development. But what does economic development mean? EC is the city’s effort to incentive new business investment, as well as the facilitation of new development projects in our city to ensure both short-term and long-term job creation.
3. Set up Past Mayors Advisory Group – The strength of Downey can be traced back to city staff and great past mayors and city council members. I would like to create a forum where I can continue to seek their input about Downey’s past, present and future.
4. Recognize Vets – very proud of vet banner program. As mayor, at each council meeting, I will invite our returning vets and their families to be publicly recognized and honored. If they have not yet returned, I would like to have their families come and give us an update. We need to put a face on these wonderful individuals who are sacrificing so much for us.
5. Department Head Meetings – we all know we have great staff. But I want to make sure on all city operations that all possible areas of improved efficiency are looked at, as well as to receive input on future projects.
6. Increase Communication amongst Stakeholders – I will provide monthly updates that will hopefully be published in our local newspapers.
7. Partnership with Chamber – I want city’s economic development team to meet with Chamber of Commerce to focus on job creation and ways the city can help support existing business.
8. Vets Memorial – approve final design and break ground on new vet memorial at city hall.
9. Transition Emergency Prep Position – city has done a great job of preparing our citizens so I want to ensure this continues.
10. Vacant Properties – need to streamline process of tracking both commercial and residential vacant properties to be sure they are being properly maintained and/or completed.
Over All Focus –
Quality of Life
1. Arts – support art groups like Downey Art Vibe to obtain grants and other subsidies to capitalize on the current momentum we have
2. Increase Utilization of existing City Gems -
a. Downey Theater – very happy with Venue Tech, continue progress
b. Columbia Learning Center – reach capacity of field trips and begin seeking major corporate sponsorship with help of foundation.
c. Parks – continue to improve infrastructure and technology (i.e. point of sale software for park/gym/field usage). Old paper receipt system has become antiquated.
d. Library – continue to expand in use of technology.
3. Crime – continue to focus internal resources to anticipate influx of released parolees within our borders. Support Chief’s Crime Impact Team. Involve G.O.O.D. (Gangs Out of Downey)
4. Infrastructure -
a. Focus efforts on improving entrances to City, ie. signs, landscaping, etc.
b. Major upgrades to water and sewer systems.
c. Installation of medians along Telegraph Ave.
d. Repave corners of Florence and Studebaker and surrounding area along