Liset Marquez, Staff Writer
Created: 12/25/2010 10:11:49 PM PST

ONTARIO – Despite the economic uncertainty in the region, city officials went through the year without having to lay off any staff or worry about operating on a deficit.

The businesslike attitude adopted by city staff over the years helped the council pass a balanced, $383 million budget in July.

It also allowed the city to maintain services, programs and staff.

“Its a major accomplishment in this economy. But it’s been a huge team effort,” said Councilman Jim Bowman.

As in previous years, several employee unions agreed to forgo scheduled raises to help the city stay within its budget.

The city also dipped into funds it had set up in preparation for an economic downturn.

The city has a history of financial peace – this was the 11th year in a row it has been recognized by several agencies in the state for its budget process.

Below are some more stories that occurred in 2010:

After 12 years as city manager of Ontario, Greg Devereaux was appointed San Bernardino County’s county administrative officer in early January.

Chris Hughes, 46, the fire chief, was immediately named his successor.

In other city politics, Bowman, Councilman Alan Wapner, and Mayor Paul Leon agreed to put their differences aside and work together. All three were up for election and were ultimately re-elected.

Discussions on how best to manage L.A./Ontario International Airport heated up this year with city officials and Los Angeles World Airports each releasing their own reports studying the facility’s management.

In the past two years, passenger traffic at ONT has fallen more than 47percent. The airport in 2009 served 4.88million travelers, down from a peak of 7.2million passengers in 2007.

Ontario officials say local control would better address the litany of problems at ONT and have been pushing to regain control of the ailing airport.

In August, LAWA consultant Jacobs-Leigh Fisher completed an evaluation of ONT and presented an assessment of management alternatives to the Board of Airport Commissioners. In the assessment, the consultant outlined three alternative paths to lower ONT’s costs to airlines.

In September, Ontario issued its own report assessing ONT operations. In that document, the city recommended local control of ONT as a solution to identified problems.

This month, Los Angeles World Airports officials said they would look for private interests to possibly contract out the operation of LA/Ontario International Airport.

LAWA, which operates ONT, will solicit ideas from the private sector and other interested parties about managing the airport.

An Ontario business was key in the development of Wheego’s Life, an all-electric vehicle. Atlanta-based Whee-

go contracted Ontario-based Hi-Performance EVs for the research and development of its new vehicle.

In the fall, the two companies began assembling the vehicle at the Ontario facility. Wheego spokeswoman Susan Nicholson said assembly may be turned over to another facility in the next year as demand increases.

The Life will go 100 miles on a charge of lithium batteries.

Earlier this year, plans for the city’s North Milliken Avenue underpass near the 10 Freeway were rejuvenated after San Bernardino Associated Governments found a way to free up $45million.

In March, City Engineer Louis Abi-younes said the project’s fate was uncertain as the city awaited the state’s decision on whether to release money for it.

The project will bring relief to the traffic-choked area of Milliken and Guasti Road across the 10 Freeway from Ontario Mills and between two major truck stops.

The project will elevate the existing railroad tracks over Milliken along a 1.5-mile section south of the 10 Freeway and running between Guasti and Airport Drive.

In October, city officials announced they had signed a contract with Simon Co., owners of Ontario Mills, to make some needed improvements to the center.

The $4.5 million investment from the city and Simon Co. will provide long-term economic benefits for the region.

The agreement shows that the mall’s owners are prepared to invest, which will bring in more people and drive additional interest to the center.

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