Throw the city of Menifee lemons and they will serve up lemonade. Bill Rawlings, city manager gave an optimistic report on the city’s budget at a luncheon Wednesday, despite the $4 million in vehicle license fees held back from the State.
The Chamber of Commerce’s Lunch with the Mayor event drew a crowd of close to 60 residents and business owners at the Menifee Country Club.
Notably absent from the luncheon was Mayor John Denver who was reported to be ill.
Finance Director Terri Willoughby provided a budget reporting Menifee is fiscally sound, despite the loss of vehicle license revenues. Last June, millions of dollars in vehicle license fees revenue the infant city normally would have received was redirected into an account for law enforcement services.
“City Council is the key,” said Rawlings. “They are getting all the big things right when it comes to the budget and revenues.”
The total city budget is close to $37 million for fiscal year 2012-2013. The general fund budget hovers around $24 million or 64 percent of the total city budget.
Rawlings said the city’s budget is growing in the right direction with the opening of new businesses and the expansion of existing ones.
“We have increased our sales tax by 11 percent,” said Rawlings.
The city is excited new restaurants like BJ’s Restaurant and Brewhouse and Panera Bread are drawing the attention of other businesses to Menifee.
“I can’t name names but we have many businesses showing interest in our community,” said Rawlings.
Meanwhile, locally-owned restaurants like Provecho’s and Pitstop Bar and Grill are expanding their operations to accommodate their growing number of customers.
“I am excited to hear the city is on strong financial ground,” said Tracey Rose from Hospice of the Valleys. “It is exciting to hear we could be getting theaters and more restaurants allowing our residents to spend money locally.”
Ray Hicks, regional manager for Southern California Edison fielded questions from guests about the community’s energy needs.
“The city has an optimistic future,” Hicks said.
Rawlings said the city plans to make Menifee a destination point and in the future they want to bring the arts into the community. Although there are no plans some residents have been asking for a Performing Arts Civic Center to be built.
“Everyone wants to build something with developmental impact fees but the person who has to pay for it,” said Rawlings. “We have to create the right synergy for bringing the arts to the city.”