Josh Dulaney, Staff Writer
Posted: 01/28/2010 05:10:06 PM PST

FONTANA – Mayor Mark Nuaimi delivered a state-of-the-city address Thursday before more than 100 officials, politicos and public employees gathered at the Jesse Turner Community Center in Fontana Park.

“Locally, at the state level, federally, globally, 2009 was an unprecedented opportunity for pain for a lot of people in and around our community,” Nuaimi said.

The mayor’s words followed a video featuring City Council members highlighting the community’s progress during the last decade in what was a concentrated effort by officials to blunt bad economic news with past achievements.

Nuaimi cautioned that the recession’s effects will linger here for another year because the local economy relies heavily on housing starts.

“Until we see a substantial increase, we’ll continue to be mired in double digit unemployment, and continued difficulty,” Nuaimi said.

The city faces an $8.2 million budget shortfall.

The mayor attributed the budget gap to continued drops in revenue combined with a carryover in what the city “deficit spent” from last year and contractual obligations to employees.

Nuaimi said city employees have agreed to forego their cost-of-living increases this year to help close the budget gap, and the city plans to spend roughly $1.6 million in economic uncertainty reserves to fund improvement projects.

Nuaimi said the city hopes to meet the needs of the community within its available resources without more workforce reductions.

The mayor also pointed out a number of milestones for the city in 2009:

• Kaiser broke ground on a $700 million hospital reconstruction.

• The grand opening of Fernandez Park in one of the recently annexed areas of town.

• The opening of the Hilton Garden Inn.

• The opening of The Plaza at Sierra – the city’s fourth senior living center downtown.

Nuaimi said while last year was challenging, “it was a year of success for Fontana.”

He also looked ahead to projects including interchange improvements along the 10 and 15 freeways in the next couple of years. Nuaimi said the upgrades will foster better mobility and encourage future development.

The city also looks to open a 43,000-square foot senior community center down the street from its new senior apartments.

Nuaimi noted that the city has for years acquired property along the 210 Freeway and near the Cypress Community Center in order to develop sports centers.

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