A long-term plan put in place by city officials years ago has helped Patterson maintain a positive financial standing despite a challenging economy, city of Patterson financial analyst Mark Pressman told the City Council March 19 during a presentation on the city’s financial standing.
The city’s vision consists of cultivating a healthy reserve, which stands at nearly $9 million with no general fund debt, while growing the population and economy steadily, Pressman said.
“I would say Patterson has a long-range vision that has been carefully implemented over time,” he said Tuesday, April 2. “They are working toward a diverse population and a diverse economy. It is serving their constituents well.”
That city’s economic stability has been noticed elsewhere as well. Pressman’s assessment comes after Standard and Poors gave Patterson’s water and sewer bonds an “A” rating in December, on a scale of AAA to D or default. No other rating was given to the city at the time because the city had no general fund debt.
“I believe an A rating for a small community in the Central Valley is good,” Pressman said.
Though different council members have steered the city over the years with very different goals and personalities, they have all stayed the course of growing Patterson’s economy and building its general fund reserve, Pressman said.
That hefty reserve exists in spite of budget deficits in recent years due to a struggling economy, City Manager Rod Butler said. Patterson has successfully cut its budget deficit down from more than $800,000 in fiscal year 2010-2011 to about $400,000 in 2011-2012. This fiscal year, which runs from July 1 to June 30, that number has been pared to $250,000 and next year will be balanced with no money from the fund being used to offset deficits, Butler said.
The city manager agreed with Pressman’s belief that past councils have steered the city in a positive economic direction.
“It’s made my job a lot easier in the last few years,” he said. “I haven’t had to practice root canal management.”
Patterson Mayor Luis Molina expressed similar views.
“I think there’s a sense of fiscal responsibility in terms of building that capacity — saving for that rainy day,” Molina said Thursday, April 4. “When you see other cities filing for bankruptcy, you’re able to take some pride that we’ve been a little more judicious than some.”
Former Councilwoman Annette Smith, who served on the council from 2006 to 2012, said the top priority for council members has been to take care of the budget, so subsequent councils would have money available.
“I don’t know anybody that has been off-task when it comes to the budget,” she said. “Every city in our county has had to lay off employees and cut salaries. The worst we’ve had to do is freeze salaries.”
Former Mayor Wade Bingham, who served Patterson from 1986 to 1992, said he also has been pleased with the economic progress of the city despite some occasional hiccups.
“You know, we have the old viewpoint that the town should be 3,000 people,” he said. “But that’s not possible anymore. Now you have to let it grow, and it should be done in an organized fashion.”
So far it has, he said.
“The city should be proud to have Amazon.com, Walmart, and W.W. Grainger in town,” he said. “The growth is fine as long as they collect the development fees up front. You need infrastructure.”
Looking ahead, Bingham said the city must focus on transportation infrastructure, given all of the logistics businesses that are moving to Patterson.
“You can’t build a hotel and then not build a street to get to it,” he said. “People underestimate the importance of infrastructure.”
• Contact Nick Rappley at 892-6187, ext. 31, or firstname.lastname@example.org.