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The Santa Maria City Council this week affirmed the guiding principle and two priority levels of goals for the next two years that were hammered out at a mid-Februrary workshop.

“This sets the path for developing the budget,” City Manager Jason Stilwell said.

In outlining the priorities, Stilwell noted there is one overarching principle that guides the city in achieving its goals from 2018 through 2020.

That principle is to “maintain financial health, balanced budget, strong reserves and address rising pension costs,” he said.

The council divided the goals into two tiers, the first consisting of “essential priorities” that likely will be given the most staff effort and necessary funding as the council develops the budget for the 2018-19 fiscal year.

Those are to pursue economic development and higher-paying jobs; to make progress in developing the downtown area and implementing the Downtown Specific Plan; and to plan and develop the South Broadway area.

Most of the council members also agreed a second tier of projects will be important goals for the staff to address over the next two-year period, and one of those is reducing youth and gang violence.

Last year, that goal was among the council’s essential priorities, but Stilwell noted the city has made progress toward that goal, so this year it was dropped to the second tier of priorities.

Another second tier goal for the coming year is to develop and annexation strategy to provide land for economic development, housing, medical facilities and educational institutions.

The third goal of the second tier is to advocate for the expansion of Vandenberg Air Force Base’s commercial space launch program, which will help with Santa Maria’s economic development.

The city staff will now use the council’s overarching principle and priorities to develop a proposed budget for te 2018-19 fiscal year.

Government after districts

Stilwell noted the council also adopted a policy regarding how the city will be governed after council members are elected by districts, which will begin with the November election and be completed with the 2020 election.

“Governing the city should not change as a result of district elections,” he said in summarizing the policy, noting the council developed four principles to assure that policy is met.

“We want to make sure those principles are accurate and reflect the council’s intent,” he added.

The principles are:

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• The council will govern on an at-large basis, considering the needs and interests of the entire community. The council wishes to remain united in its service to the community.

• Any councilmember will help anyone in the community who calls or contacts them. Customer service is the priority.

• Professional management in a strong city manager form of government will continue, with all of the best management practices that we expect now. Resources will be allocated based on needs and expertise.

• Current practices regarding invitations to members of (the) council to events and activities and appointments to committees and various bodies will remain in effect.

The clarify the last principle, Councilman Mike Cordero asked whether a council member elected by District 4 could appoint someone from District 1 to serve on a city board, and Stilwell affirmed that is the intent.

Councilman Jack Boysen said he’d like to see a separate resolution to make no change in governance after district elections and the four principles that will guide that effort brought back to the council.

“I’d like to see this codified,” Boysen said. “I’d like to see a 5-0 vote … to set the tone for future councils that this is what we intend.”

Cordero responded, “That’s not a bad idea, so that issue will stand on its own.”

Stilwell said he would bring back a resolution to that effect.