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MB the 'Envy' of Other Cities, Mayor Says

Jan 29, 2015 12:50PM ● By DigMB Staff
Mayor Wayne Powell loves to talk about Manhattan Beach, but he almost didn't make it to Thursday's State of the City address. 

Having trouble breathing late Wednesday night, Mayor Powell was taken by paramedics to the emergency room for treatment. He slept barely a wink. 

But his passion for Manhattan Beach shone through his raspy voice as he presented an upbeat report on the city's progress and plans for the future. 

Mayor Powell just returned from the U.S. Conference of Mayors in Washington, D.C., where he said Manhattan Beach was "the envy" of the other mayors, particularly California mayors.

"They all want to be like Manhattan Beach," Powell reported. 

During a visit with President Barack Obama at the White House, Mayor Powell was wearing one of his trademark "I (Heart) MB" pins. He called out to the president: "I love Manhattan Beach!"

The mayor said he heard the president reply, "'Me too'... Or something that rhymed with it." 

The city is doing "very well" overall, Mayor Powell reported, calling specific attention to city finances, saying the city is in "great, I repeat great, financial shape." 

City revenues for are mostly drawn from property taxes (about $23 million) and sales taxes (about $9 million), with several other revenue streams as well.

The city ran a balanced budget with a surplus last year, and continues to maintain a healthy "rainy day" fund in case of economic troubles in the future. The mayor did note, however, that even in the last real estate downturn, property tax revenue – 40% of the city's budget – did not change much. 

Manhattan Beach has new staff leadership, with a new city manager and assistant city manager, and also a new community development director, who are all generating some excitement and optimism, Mayor Powell noted.

In the public safety arena, the mayor took note of two recent programs: the city fire department has begun a surf rescue program to help out when county lifeguards cannot, and police have restarted bike patrols all around the city.

Mayor Powell was especially proud of the city's commitment to online transparency through the OpenGov project. The site displays details about the city's revenues and spending, allowing residents to find granular detail about Manhattan Beach projects and expenses. (See the MB OpenGov site here.) 

Looking forward, Mayor Powell said the city will "hit the ground running" to implement recent recommendations about the downtown area from the Urban Land Institute. (See DigMB's post, "Report Suggests Downtown Changes," for more.) Public "study sessions" on the ULI report will begin next month. 

Key infrastructure projects in 2015 include completion of the new library, major electrical system upgrades by SoCal Edison, Sepulveda bridge widening and Manhattan Village Mall "revitalization."

The State of the City address was sponsored by the Manhattan Beach Chamber of Commerce and several local businesses. 

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