10:00 PM PDT on Tuesday, March 29, 2011

By KEVIN PEARSON
The Press-Enterprise

Hemet likely will face more cuts as it battles through tough economic times, and residents will have to accept the potential for change, Mayor Jerry Franchville said during an annual address.

Delivering his State of the City talk to about 200 people at the Hemet Public Library, Franchville warned that the council will have to make tough decisions in coming years as it struggles to find ways to balance the budget.

During the 36-minute speech, Franchville gave a historical look at Hemet before transitioning to his foray into politics. He never envisioned himself in this scenario, he said.

Franchville talked about the City Council’s past successes in trimming millions from the budget by evaluating services and warned that more cuts may be on the horizon.

The city is considering outsourcing its refuse department and has a consultant studying the efficiencies of its public safety departments. Franchville, a Riverside County sheriff’s investigator, said joining with San Jacinto in providing public safety services is something that could be explored.

“The City Council must ask these questions,” Franchville said. “Even if no decision is made, at least we can hold our heads high knowing we looked at all possible options.”

With a variety of city and community leaders in attendance — including several former mayors — Franchville questioned the spending and decision making of past councils but added that it is up to the current council to find ways to solve the budget crisis.

Hemet is expected to have a $4.8 million deficit next fiscal year. Franchville said he hoped making tough choices such as outsourcing trash services could protect the public safety departments from further cuts.

“I thought the mayor was transparent,” Vice Mayor Robert Youssef said. “He didn’t leave any punches. He told the truth — where we are at and the direction the City Council has decided it wants to go. He highlighted some tough spots that we’re going to face and some tough decisions we will have to make.”

The next two years will be difficult, but the council will successfully negotiate them, he said.

Franchville concluded with four thoughts.

To read entire story, click here.