As 2013 draws to a close it is time to pause and look back at what we have been able to accomplish together as a community.
This was truly a transformational year for our city. We concluded an agreement to extend important protections in our unique Airport Settlement Agreement. This will ensure our community is protected for the next generation.
Our award-winning Civic Center has created a public space that visitors from around the world are coming to see. The new Civic Green welcomes concertgoers, hundreds walk or take their dogs to the park and the library expansion is already filling up each day. The new City Hall also enabled us to go paperless and reduce printing by more than 22,000 pages per month.
Listening to the community, we entered into negotiations with the RD Olsen construction company to develop a boutique hotel on the old City Hall site as part of a comprehensive revitalization of Lido Village.
ExplorOcean and the Balboa Theater continue to develop plans that will lead to the revitalization of Balboa Village. We invested more than $6 million to dredge the harbor to maintain our greatest economic asset.
Under way now are Marina Park, a transformational bay-front park with a sailing center, a new Girl Scout facility and a visitor-serving marina. Sunset Ridge Park will provide needed sports fields for the west side of our city.
We have undertaken groundbreaking arts initiatives that will provide a rotating sculpture garden at Newport Center Park and funding for cultural institutions and programs. We have budgeted more than $70 million in capital improvement funds this year with the sanitation district spending more than $100 million over the next few years to upgrade our sewer network.
We can do all of these things because we have been good stewards of public funds. We never touched our reserves during the recession and they have grown to nearly $130 million.
We ended the year with a $12.7-million surplus, and we continue to reduce our workforce and ask our employees to pay more into their pensions.
Because of the foresight of the 2006 General Plan amendments, our assessed valuation has grown each year during the recession and grew by 5.3% last year, the largest increase in Orange County. This has been a great year for Newport Beach, and our future is even brighter.
KEITH CURRY is the mayor of Newport Beach and a candidate for state Assembly.