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Corona del Mar Today: State of the city: 'excellent'

January 22, 2011|By Amy Senk
  • Newport Beach Mayor Mike Henn gave a State of the City address Tuesday.
Newport Beach Mayor Mike Henn gave a State of the City address…

Newport Beach Mayor Michael F. Henn gave a State of the City speech to members of the Corona del Mar Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday, offering a sneak peek of topics likely to be addressed at the upcoming City Council 2011 Priorities Meeting.

Henn was the featured speaker at the chamber's lunch at Five Crowns, which drew a sellout crowd of about three dozen members and guests.

He began with a positive view of the state of Newport Beach.

"In a word, it is excellent," he said, describing how city staff successfully carved $8 million in savings in the 2010 fiscal year's budget and how they are pulling out another $18 million this year, all while opening the new OASIS Senior Center and "smartly" building a new Civic Center and park complex that will be complete by the end of 2012.

The City Council, he said, was poised to tackle issues that would be "generational," meaning they would change the city's path for generations to come.

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He listed five topics that he said would be discussed at the Feb. 5 Priorities Meeting, beginning with possibly changing the way that the city delivers services to residents.

"What services are critical to the city?" he said. "What services are perhaps important to the city but perhaps not important for city staff to provide?"

He said the question wasn't whether to reduce services but to discuss how to cut costs and manage staff time.

A second priority is dealing with pension and retirement benefits for city staff, which Henn said take too large a share of city resources.

"We bear no ill will," he said. "But we do know we have to fix it."

Employees will need to pay more of their share of the costs, he said.

Tidelands and related issues comprise Henn's third priority, he said, citing the need to address harbor concerns like dredging, dock tie-ups, higher seawalls and beach issues. Those improvements, he said, could make Newport Beach the premier oceanside recreational city in the world.

"That is not a goal that is unattainable in my view," he said.

Henn said revitalization and working on John Wayne Airport agreements also were top concerns.

"2011 is the year of generational planning," he said. "These are changes that will benefit our city for generations going forward."

The City Council Priorities Meeting will begin at 8:30 a.m. Feb. 5 in the OASIS Center. The public is invited.

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