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State of the City Address: Chico faces more debt

Published On: Jan 31 2014 02:26:28 AM CST   Updated On: Jan 30 2014 02:00:00 AM CST
CHICO, Calif -

The city of Chico held its State of the City Address discussing how the city is handling a massive debt and layoffs in multiple departments.

City leaders also discussed the plans to get back on track. Mayor Scott Gruendl started off the address saying the city is in bad shape.

Gruendl blamed past administrations for incorrectly reporting their finances to the council. It is expected by city leaders the debt will increase from $5.2- $7 million this year to already struggling city departments.

“There were decisions made at city hall that were clearly done with good intent but without authority and essentially the folks didn't know what they were doing and they created a bigger disaster than they were trying to avoid,” said Gruendl.

All members of the city council, with the exception of Ann Schwab, shared the damage the debt brought towards the city. Mark Sorensen noted since 2011, the city spent $20 million that left no cushion for the city's reserve funds.

Sean Morgan explained how much public safety has been cut. Only 66 police officers are protecting the city, and Chico fire has been strategically shutting down stations to save money.

“So we purposely hired an outfit that will dig more than before,” said Gruendl.

On the positive side, Randall Stone shared how the city is “thinking outside the box” to keep certain quality features alive, like Caper Acres Park open six days a week.

Mary Goloff pointed out how 1,300 jobs have been added, and Tami Ritter shared how much downtown Chico has improved since a crackdown on aggressive panhandling.

There’s also a $5 million dollar federal grant the fire department received last week. City leaders acknowledge there's work to be done starting with more oversight of financial reporting once this year's audit report comes out next month.