Ron Bradley, new interim city manager for the City of Menifee, is quickly moving toward the City Council’s goal to replace reserve funding borrowed in the past few years and to maintain and increase the city’s public safety services and other needed improvements.
Less than three weeks into his post as the Menifee city manager, Bradley has been pouring through the city’s financial and staffing reports finding where the new Measure DD funding and anticipated higher property and sales tax revenues may best be spent to better serve its growing population.
In a Valley News interview, Bradley, who has served either as city manager, or interim city manager for three other southwestern Riverside County cities in his long public service career, said he is particularly interested in Menifee because as he sees that “this city is going to be one of the fastest growing cities and eventually be the largest city here in Southwestern Riverside County.” He said it may be bigger than both Murrieta and Temecula based on projections he saw.
With that in mind he said “We want to maintain and in fact increase, where possible, our public safety services. What they are right now, I can’t enumerate them, but I do have proposals for both our Sheriffs’ police department – and Calfire as our fire department. Beyond that, we need to look at some infrastructure improvements and we need to start rebuilding our reserves. We are trying to do that in one fatal swoop I assume. It’s a council decision. But my recommendation is OK, let’s pay it back over time. We expect that revenue source to grow every year, which will be healthy for the city.”
In his recent six-month fiscal year budget review given to the city council, Bradley noted there will be a $360,000 deficit, adding to an anticipated $3 million budget deficit for the year.
“But those figures are deceiving,” he explained in his report since the city has been slowly reducing its costs while the revenue in continuing to increase.
Bradley pointed out the Menifee now has 120 projects under review.
“That’s exciting, but it’s also frightening because… I have learned we don’t have enough people to move that along as quickly as I like to. So, I am looking at some staffing changes.”
He said the people in the city planning, code enforcement, engineering, and building departments have their hands full with the 120 projects working their way through and that it was too early to tell what departments will be changed or bolstered.
“There could be some additions, reductions and adjustments of responsibilities,” he said.
Some of the staff, with Bradley as the new manager, seem to be exceptionally pleased with his plans and efforts thus far.
“The staff just loves this guy,” noted Gina Gonzalez, Economic Development Manager.
How does he see Menifee as compared to the other cities he has managed like Murrieta and Temecula?
“I see those cities transitioning from new to maintenance cities, their spending and their approach,” Bradley said. “we’re a growth city.”
He said people are moving to Menifee because of the lower price of land and housing, the weather and everything “that makes this place ‘another day in paradise’ for some people.” He said the city still needs to have a balance between the rural and urban lifestyles relating to the still large senior population that lives in part of the city.
“There is no need for that to be in conflict since the average age here is now 37…That sort of makes life exciting for me,” mused Bradley, himself in his 70s, who needs to lead the city into that balance.
He said he sees the senior population in the city a great asset for their experience and knowledge, “that we can lean on and tap.”
“There is an amazing spirit of community involvement of people wanting to get involved and make the city shine. The council is very aware of that,” Bradley said.
Bradley loves his new job as the interim city manager and came out of retirement to help its residents. He suggested it is “the best job in the world,” and laughed. “but it could be the worst … in the same day.” It will be his job, he says to find the very best new city manager and will soon begin a nationwide search for the right person. His experience he hopes will assure the city residents the best will be found.
Speaking to the people who live in Menifee he forwarded his thought, “I think this is an exciting place to be, the future going forward to them is wonderful. The quality of life here is going to get better and better.”
He did warn there will be more traffic in the future however and for the residents to be prepared for it. He said he sees the Scott Road and I-215 Interchange as one of his greatest challenges.
“We have to keep chasing the money on that project,” he said.