City manager ready to meet all challenges for 2013
While the issues have not been easy, City Manager Tony Ramos looks back on 2012, his first full year as Claremont’s city manager, with a sense of pride and accomplishment. It’s working through the challenges and seeing the positive end results that have made the past year’s work meaningful, he asserts. As he looks forward to tackling more difficult matters in 2013, water acquisition included. Mr. Ramos recently took a moment to look back.
Q. 2012 has been a busy year for the city of Claremont, from water to the Wilderness Park. What have been the highlights for you and the city?
A. One, moving forward with Golden State Water. Two would be preparing and presenting to the city council a balanced budget without resulting in any further reductions in our workforce. That was very important. Three, moving forward with some of our economic development opportunities that we have had, seeing further development of Auto Center Drive and Peppertree Square.
[Mr. Ramos also noted Claremont becoming the first Fair Trade City in California, the city’s commencement with the Wilderness Park parking lot construction and its ability to put $1.8 million into its reserves as outstanding city accomplishments. Still other notable accomplishments included establishing an Equipment and Facility Revolving Reserve, adding another officer to the Claremont Police Department ranks, signing new contracts with all city employee groups and paying down more of the city’s PERS unfunded liability.]
The financial health of the city is very important without impacting the services that we provide to our residents. We have been able to accomplish that this past year with the assistance of our partners: our employees, our school district, our colleges, our chamber. We all worked together to make sure Claremont residents and businesses have the highest level of service.
Q. What would you consider to be one of the year’s biggest obstacles? How did the city overcome it?
A. This last year has been a really, really good year—it really, truly has. We have been fortunate in a lot of ways. A number of cities are going through some really hard-hitting financial issues and we have prepared for that over the last several years so that we would not have to be dealing with the same issues.
I think one of our largest obstacles and one of the hardest decisions this council has had to make is whether it should move forward or not with the Golden State Water issue but, with the support of the residents and our business community, we have moved forward with that. When [the council] made the decision to move forward and make the offer to Golden State, we overcame that obstacle.
[The water issue] and economic development are also going to be very challenging, especially without redevelopment. The state took away one of our largest tools to assist business development. Now it’s up to us as a team here to come up with creative ways to move forward with these opportunities. I very much look forward to continuing our relationship with our partners—the school district, the colleges, the chamber and all our volunteers, commissioners and residents—to make sure Claremont maintains its reputation of one of the finest cities in the San Gabriel Valley.
Q. The end of 2012 marks your first full year as city manager of Claremont. What are your reflections, looking back?
A. I want to thank the community and the council and all of our community partners. As I have said, it has been an outstanding year for us and, working together, I think everyone can see that over this past year we have accomplished a lot. It’s not done in a vacuum; it’s done with a great deal of participation from our staff, commissioners and volunteers. The city of Claremont is so fortunate to have such a large contingency of volunteers that assist us in everything that we do.
As we all work together, I think we are seeing what can be accomplished in the city of Claremont. The city council has done an outstanding job in giving direction and moving this community forward this past year, and I think they should be highly praised for what they have done. They have taken on some pretty hard initiatives and moved them forward. They have made some decisions that haven’t been easy, but they did it for the betterment of this community.
Q. What are some of the issues the city will be tackling in the new year?
A. Water will be the number-one thing on the agenda. Number 2, to make sure our financial stability stays in place. Three will be moving forward with our economic development projects to make sure they get completed so that we can continue our revenue base. Number 4, is making sure our internal organization, our city staff, have the tools they need to do the best job they can for this community. It’s very important to me to make sure that staff development occurs and that they have the proper tools to do their jobs.
Q. Are there any particular issues you are looking forward to tackling in 2013?
A. I love my job; I love what I do. One great thing about being city manager is you get to deal with so many different issues on so many different levels.
Q. Do you plan to take some time off to enjoy the holidays?
A. Thursday will be my last day officially, but I’m never really off. As things come up over the next couple weeks, we will be closed [on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Years] because of the holidays, but I am always available by phone, by text, by mail. Even though I’m told to take a break, I don’t. When you are passionate about what you do, and love what you do, you give it everything you have.
Q. Anything you would like to add?
A. It’s been a great year, a really rewarding experience and I look forward to future years as we continue to provide services to the community. I wish everyone a happy holiday season and a happy New Year. Thank you to our community for all the help they have given us as an organization.