Galt District Chamber of Commerce and SMUD hosted the chamber’s annual State of the City on Thursday, March 21 at the Littleton Community Center. More than 60 guests attended the event.

In light of City Manager Eugene Palazzo’s resignation two days before the event, department directors stepped forward to help Mayor Paige Lampson give the presentation.

Tackling the finances on behalf of Finance Director Claire Tyson, who was unable to attend, Lampson spoke of the city’s long-range financial plan. Significant challenges facing the city are the lighting and landscaping districts, which have been the topic of conversation for several years now. Two of the three districts are underfunded and are eating away at general fund revenues.

Lampson reported that city staff and council members are looking for alternatives to turn the situation around.

Only in his first month with the city but already geared up and ready to go, Public Works Director Michael Selling spoke about some completed projects, such as the Fourth Street improvements, including the promenade and the safe routes to school projects, which include safer bike lanes around the southwest areas of Galt.

Other recently completed projects included the industrial water treatment plant deep well project, playground equipment replacement at Galt Community Park, formation of the city of Galt Groundwater Sustainability Agency and an agreement with the California Department of Correctional and Rehabilitation for the firing range.

Selling gave a quick preview of upcoming projects. The city recently secured $2.5 million from SACOG to construct “complete street” enhancements. Complete streets include enhancements for all users, including bicyclists, pedestrians, transit and vehicles.

The project will address C Street between Sixth Street and Civic Drive.

Another upcoming project is the transit operating and maintenance facility, which staff is pursuing to be placed near the wastewater treatment plant just north of Twin Cities on the west side of Highway 99. The facility is in an area big enough for other users to join the city’s fleet. Both Galt school districts have been approached about joining the city in this project. Neither district has had the opportunity to fully discuss the option as of yet.

Galt Police Chief Tod Sockman spoke to Chamber guests. Sockman first focused on community engagement opportunities that the department participated in over the last year. Most incidents were positive, reflecting on things such as the CAPS program receiving Business of the Month recognition to participation in the AMGEN Tour.

But not all opportunities came with smiles, as the department faced the fifth anniversary of Officer Kevin Tonn’s death and the highly unsuccessful Galt Police Department versus Cosumnes Fire Department annual volleyball tournament.

Sockman addressed homeless response, adding that with the county’s latest count, Galt’s homeless population is officially at five.

Recruitment has been successful over the last year. Sockman reported that the department has only one position not filled. Unfortunately, several officers are out due to injuries or other medical reasons; however, there are two recruits currently attending the academy.

Sockman touched on the RIMS system failure, commenting on the difficulty that has been on the department.

Community Development Director Chris Erias reported on recent progress, including the industrial park expansion annexation of 230 acres.

The city has focused on infill projects recently, trying to encourage developers to “fill in” random open land that has neighborhoods built all around it. Approved residential infill developments include Veranda At River Oaks with 60 units, Greenwood Estates with 226 units, Gerbitz Town Homes with six units.

Currently there are 11 residential infill locations and four proposed larger master-planned communities in initial planning stages; however, these larger developments may take years before breaking ground.

Although approved, residential building activity has stayed relatively slow the past two years, with 71 permits being issued in 2017 and only 38 in 2018.

Commercial building activity has been slow as well, with 22 permits being issued in 2017 and 33 in 2018.

Economic Development Manager Amie Mendez spoke about new or soon-to-be new businesses popping up in town. The highly anticipated Starbucks finally opened, as did Pastosa by Lucia. Soon to open are Arco (attached to Starbucks), Gilly’s Car Wash & Dog Wash, The Little Farmhouse, Papas & Wings, Back Alley Brew House and Dutch Bros. Coffee.

Mendez recently attended International Council of Shopping Centers conference where she promoted Galt to different vendors. Mendez focused on vendors who were not already in Galt, mentioning Chipotle, Panda Express, Dairy Queen, Sonic and Wendy’s for restaurants. Other merchants discussed were Boot Barn, Hibbett Sports, Big 5 and WSS (Warehouse Show Sale).

Only time will tell whether or not the vendors are interested to invest in Galt.

Mendes said, for 2019, economic development will focus on commercial infill, business retention, industrial business recruitment, and community engagement and outreach.

Rounding up the presentation, Lampson acknowledged the city’s commitment to face the city’s continuing challenges. Some of those challenges include building and facility maintenance, long-term financial stability, parks and playgrounds, the swimming pool, and the lighting and landscape districts.