Spence on state of the city: 'Things are going well'

It's better late than never for La Cañada Flintridge City Councilman Dave Spence, who on Wednesday delivered a postponed State of the City address to members of the La Cañada Kiwanis Club at Descanso Gardens.

Spence, a 20-year council veteran, served an unprecedented fifth year-long term as La Cañada's mayor before handing over the gavel to Steve Del Guercio on March 19. The annual mayor's address to the Kiwanis had been delayed by scheduling conflicts.

Spence spoke to an audience of 64, among the highest recent turnouts for a regular Kiwanis meeting, club President Mary Gant said.

Spence focused his remarks on the city's fiscal stability, expanded commercial development along Foothill Boulevard and recent public works projects including the Jessen Drive Bridge and renovation of the Lanterman Auditorium.

La Cañada has $14.7 million in fiscal reserves to back up a $10.7-million annual budget. City general fund revenue is projected to increase by nearly $100,000 — about 2.3% — over the 2011-12 fiscal year on the strength of a 16% spike in sales tax revenue between July and December, said Spence.

“I'm very proud and happy to tell you things are going well in La Cañada Flintridge. In fact they're going so well, it scares me,” joked Spence. “I'm afraid that the governor will find out and tell [Assemblyman Anthony] Portantino he needs some of the reserves that we have.”

But a few issues demand attention, according to the former mayor. Spence said that city officials continue to push Southern California Edison for utility upgrades after windstorms knocked out power late last year. Windstorm cleanup and recovery efforts cost the city $300,000.

The city is also discussing improvements to La Cañada Town Center with new owners IDS Real Estate Group, said Spence, who praised the opening of the adjacent Sprouts market.

City leaders are also keeping an eye on the proposal to connect the Long Beach (710) Freeway to the Foothill (210) Freeway, which they oppose due to concerns about traffic, pollution and safety.

But when it comes to the 710, the state's fiscal woes may have a silver lining for locals: “I don't think there's going to be funds for it,” said Spence.

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