October 28, 2010 5:42 PM
Natasha Lindstrom

ADELANTO • Amid their protests against water rate hikes, the highly charged residents at Wednesday’s City Council meeting voiced concerns over some of the city’s bad roads and stalled development projects, and demanded to know when they’d see some progress.

Council’s response: Not anytime soon.

Capital improvement projects are on hold as the city grapples with declining revenues and increasing debt, with a one-time $28 million infusion for selling the city-owned prison sustaining the city’s solvency for the next five years.

The Daily Press asked the candidates in the race for City Council seats about their take on city finances and solutions to securing stable financial footing.

Four candidates are in the running for two council seats: incumbent Councilman Gene Piehe, Councilman Trinidad Perez, Chuck Valvo and Steve Baisden.

“We need to take a serious look at every department in the city and find ways to eliminate waste and lower costs,” said Baisden, a warehouse manager. “We cannot continue to sell city assets, such as when we sold the prison, to cover the operations of City Hall.”

Baisden called for temporarily reducing developer fees to draw businesses into the city, thereby generating tax revenue and create local jobs.

Valvo, a retired aerospace coordinator, said “the financial condition of the city is grim.”

“There needs to be budget cuts across the board and any expenditures need to show some kind of visible return,” Valvo said. “The city needs to come up with attractive incentives to encourage industrial, commercial, retail and private businesses to want to build here in Adelanto.”

Piehe said the city has to work harder at making more of the city “shovel ready” to attract more retail, commercial and industrial growth.

“The greatest challenge facing Adelanto today is a low return of redevelopment money from the county, which causes the city to not be able to help new business come into the city,” added Piehe, a retired Air Force chief master sergeant and former school custodian. “I plan to continue working with the city manager and financial director to work out a plan with the county to restore more of our redevelopment money.”

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