Lincoln has a lot of positives going for it. Even though the population has increased five-fold from 8,500 in 2000 to 45,000, the city still has a small-town atmosphere.
For example, residents are quick to help others and bank tellers still know everybody's first names.
Lincoln’s new city manager, Matt Brower, will quickly see why residents enjoy living here when he starts work on Feb. 9.
Lincoln also has many challenges. Many of those financial challenges are due to the fact that Lincoln is a full-service city, which means many services are provided by the city.
Some cities our size and larger contract out garbage service, are served by special districts for water and sewer, and don’t have their own library.
Being a full-service city is costly. When the recession hit, growth in Lincoln quickly came to a standstill. Since 2009, city staff has made difficult decisions on how to provide these services, or which services to cut when necessary.
Brower must ensure expenses don’t exceed income. City revenues are $59.9 million with expenditures of $82.01 million. When the city was booming, in 2006/2007, revenue was around $140.5 million with expenditures at roughly $166 million.
We need a city manager who knows what’s going on in all the city’s departments.
While approximately 150 staff members are available to provide answers to Brower, it’s a lot of information to grasp.
“He has to be a quick study and employ solid business principles to the city,” said Lincoln City Councilman Spencer Short, who has been involved with Lincoln city management since 1996.
While City Council is charged with setting policy, the city manager is charged with keeping Lincoln running smoothly without any disruptions to the qualities of life that residents enjoy.
“When Matt starts here, he will have to jump in and make decisions quickly – decisions on planning, growth and how he administers them on a day to day basis,” Short said. “How he makes the council’s vision come alive needs the community’s understanding and support.”
Brower has to be Lincoln’s biggest advocate when working with county and regional governmental groups and associations that might not have Lincoln’s needs at their forefront.
With Lincoln’s General Plan guiding the city to grow to a population of 150,000 in the next 35 years, the new city manager must be a quick learner about complex pressing issues.
These issues include the city working more efficiently with developers in Villages One, Five and Seven, from signing off permits to ultimately breaking ground. Villages One and Five are in the planning process and Village 7 is nearing construction.
Nearby proposed developments, such as Placer Ranch on the Roseville border and Sunset Industrial area near Rocklin could impact Lincoln’s residents through increased traffic and new businesses moving to Rocklin and Roseville instead of here.
Water is another crucial issue. Not only must Brower effectively negotiate with our water suppliers, Placer County Water Agency and Nevada Irrigation District, he must work regionally with Sacramento, Sutter and Placer counties in regard to Lincoln’s groundwater. Groundwater issues do not stop at the city limit; they go beyond because the groundwater basin underlies all three counties.
The closed but toxic landfill off Virginiatown Road will remain a major issue because it will take years to clean. Lincoln has to work with the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board in making sure a $3 million remediation plan approved by City Council in January works.
I can’t imagine a harder job in the city of Lincoln.
Brower, though, is excited to start working here.
Last week, Brower told me that the first task will be to take a tour of the community and listen to residents. This is the perfect time for residents involved in community affairs as well as residents who haven't been involved in city issues to personally meet Lincoln’s new city manager.
He wants to have a dialogue from longtime residents to new residents about their perspectives on Lincoln. Let's take him up on it.
It's not often that any resident gets to greet a city manager before he becomes immersed in a heavy workload.