Newport Beach recaps 2012, looks ahead to 2013

Restructuring and outsourcing some city government services and finalizing the new use for City Hall were among the priorities for 2013 outlined during a comprehensive Newport Beach City Council special meeting Saturday morning.

The seven-member council, as well as City Manager Dave Kiff and other city leaders, met at the OASIS Senior Center for three and a half hours to discuss 2012 and the ongoing year.

Kiff started the session with a presentation on last year's accomplishments, which included acquiring a coastal development permit for Sunset Ridge Park, removing contaminated material in Newport Harbor, balancing the city budget and adding to the reserves, and successfully negotiating with organized labor.

The harbor project, which repurposed the material for use in the Port of Long Beach's expansion effort, was a "once in a generation" project, Kiff said.

Kiff also credited the city's Police Department for the reduction last year in part one crimes, which include both violence and property crimes such as murder, vehicle theft, robbery, rape and aggravated assault.

The newly opened Civic Center is another accomplishment that is nearing completion, Kiff said. Critics of the $131.4-million facility in Newport Center, however, have dubbed it the city's "Taj Mahal."

"This is the biggest project that the city's ever done ... [it was] essentially six projects taken into one," Kiff said.

The local economy is also showing some indicators of improvement, he said.

Revenue from sales taxes is up 5%, according to city officials. Revenue from property taxes and the transient occupancy tax — obtained through overnight stays at hotels — is up by 1 and 4 percent, respectively.

"These are all good signs … certainly not steamrolling forward, but good signs as well," Kiff said.

Other city priorities include possibly modernizing Newport Beach Television, or NBTV, improving the city's hardware and software computer applications, addressing the West Newport facilities plan and completing the revitalization of Balboa Village.

Capital projects that are effectively green-lit in the fiscal year 2012-13 city budget include the Civic Center, Marina Park, Sunset Ridge Park and bicycle safety improvements.

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