General fund is expected to be negatively impacted by $17.7 million over the next three years 



By Rich Constantine

Mayor Rich Constantine

The State of the City provides an opportunity to reflect on the prior year. We get to reflect on what we accomplished … and it sets the stage for what is ahead.

I will be honest. Reflecting on the challenges of the previous year is overwhelming and surreal. We have been through so much, from a global pandemic, to wildfires, and civil unrest. Our systems, infrastructure, mental health, values, and beliefs have been challenged to the core.

Our residents, seniors, and children have all had to adjust to a world of isolation, concern, and ever changing information. Our businesses, large and small, have had to shut down due to the shelter in place orders, and many of them will not survive the pandemic. The city has also been affected by the pandemic. We had to lay off 100 part-time employees and temporarily closed the Aquatics and Centennial Recreation centers.

Our general fund, which pays for police, fire, and many other city services, is expected to be negatively impacted by $17.7 million over the next three years due to the loss of revenue. And while the COVID-19 pandemic will have long-lasting impacts on our community, we must recognize how much we have learned and grown.

We have learned that what matters most is our health and the well-being of our loved ones.

We have learned that we can rise to the occasion and pivot as necessary and as frequently as needed — not only to survive but also thrive in the most restricting circumstances.

We have learned that life will never be the same, that being prepared is a responsibility we must all bear.

We have learned that our parks, streets, and open spaces are not only nice to have but a necessity to be able to socially distance when needed.

We have learned that the future is outdoors.

In these challenging times, we also have so much to be thankful for …

Our safety officers — police and firefighters who have kept our community safe in a time of continued economic crisis and civil unrest.

Our healthcare heroes who have braved the pandemic with determination and compassion.

Our community has risen to the occasion with additional support for our most vulnerable families.

We must acknowledge our teachers, school administrators, grocery workers, nonprofits, faith-based organizations, service providers, and volunteers who continue to serve our residents in the most challenging situations.

To my fellow elected officials, thank you for your dedication to make our community a better place.

I also want to express my gratitude to the Morgan Hill residents who serve on boards and volunteer their time to better our community.

Last but not least, I want to thank our city employees. Our professional staff’s dedication to our community is unmatched.

Despite social distancing restrictions, having to transition systems to a new digital and remote world, having to multi-task, in many cases juggling homeschooling and working, our city accomplished so much. Here are some highlights from 2020:

Cal Fire managed the third-largest wildfire in California’s recorded history, and our police department successfully and effectively evacuated about 500 residences during the SCU Lightning Complex fire that covered five counties and burned 396,000 acres.

Our police department ensured the community’s safety during 30 civil unrest events.

Our community services department continued feeding our seniors and opened outdoor fitness facilities to support our residents’ well-being and fitness needs.

Our community services team started work on the Hale Avenue extension project — a project that has been in the works for more than 50 years.

We expanded the library and the Centennial Recreation Center.

We funded, through the community’s tremendous support, and began construction on the Magical Bridge Inclusive Playground project.

Our building department processed 1,550 building permit applications and performed 7,780 inspections.

We supported families and businesses impacted by the pandemic with emergency orders prohibiting rent increases and evictions.

We deployed an Economic Development Business Recovery Plan to support business functions during the shelter-in-place orders.

We housed 139 homeless people.

We helped 22 families buy below market rate homes.

The city council negotiated a 20-year broadband agreement with Wave Broadband for intra-connectivity between city facilities and to improve broadband in the community.

Talking about broadband, we just held a workshop with Spectrum to discuss the most recent outage that left our community, employers, and residents disconnected. While 911 never went down, many residents and businesses did not have access to phone services and the Internet. This is unacceptable, and we are looking at every option available to the city to demand redundancy from our service providers. Please join us at our next workshop March 24 to learn more.

Broadband is one of the city council’s strategic priorities, and we will continue to do what we can and what is in our power to move the needle (or increase the bars) in this area.

Every year, the city council adopts strategic priorities that memorialize the council’s sustainable Morgan Hill plan. The city council, city staff, and I are committed to our strategic priorities and to serving our community with equity, public health, and financial responsibility in mind.

This year is a year of recovery. We will continue to focus our efforts on protecting our community, helping the growing number of unhoused families and individuals, supporting our businesses through the recovery, and creating new ladders of opportunity. We will continue to find ways to engage the community in decision-making. And while public decision-making can be challenging at times, we will continue to strive for a welcoming and productive environment where our community can share ideas.

We know how much we can accomplish when we come together. We have a beautiful, generous, and kind community. We will continue to do the good work of serving our community and being good stewards of the trust that has been bestowed upon us. I end this address with a note of gratitude, hope, and optimism. Thank you for making Morgan Hill a special place.

Rich Constantine is the mayor of Morgan Hill. His state of the city address was broadcast on video March 10. This is an edited version of his talk.


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