Mayor Gary Soiseth will give his third State of the City address at 7:30 a.m. Wednesday. The speech, originally planned for the Public Safety Center, will move next door to the Carnegie Arts Center because of anticipated rain.
(Editor’s Note: This story was updated Tuesday morning to include the change in location)
“Last year’s address focused on our pressing needs regarding water and roads,” Soiseth said in a statement. “With the passage of Measure L and the substantial progress with our surface water project, Turlock is well on its way to accomplishing our goals of improved roads and sustainable drinking water. So, this year, the focus will highlight our commitment to police and fire services.”
Investing in public safety includes replacement fire engines purchased and being readied to roll this spring. Raises for police and fire personnel are also more likely this year after a salary survey released in February showed Turlock’s first responders earn significantly less than the norm. Negotiations are just getting started for next year, however, and the city declined to speak to the issue.
“I’m glad we conducted the salary survey, which helps the Council better understand the current salary market for employees,” Soiseth said in an emailed response to Bee questions. “The survey is not intended to set salaries, but to be a resource for both the labor groups and also policy makers at City Hall during negotiations. Because collective bargaining is just underway, it would be premature and inappropriate of me to comment at this time.”
... Turlock is well on its way to accomplishing our goals of improved roads and sustainable drinking water. So, this year, the focus will highlight our commitment to police and fire services. Gary Soiseth
Turlock compared its salaries and benefits against 10 other Northern California cities, most of which are larger and/or richer. The survey found of 32 central office and technical staff positions, all but four pay more than the median rate. On average the city pays 7 percent above the market median for those positions, the survey found. Its managers earn slightly less than the norm in salary, but add benefits and those pay packages are 9 percent higher on average.
For police and fire positions, however, Turlock is nowhere near on par. The city’s sworn police officers make on average 14 percent less and firefighters 25 percent less than the median comparison pay package. Turlock Fire battalion chiefs make 40 percent less when looking at total compensation.
The survey cities ranged in size from Lodi to Modesto, with seven larger than Turlock’s population of 68,549, and ranged in income from Merced to Pleasanton, with seven wealthier than Turlock’s median income of $51,401.
The mayor said he will cover the city’s fiscal outlook in his speech, which will also applaud the passage of Measure L, expected to bring Turlock at least $73.3 for local streets over its 25-year life.
It’s my goal to make Turlock the first city in the county to start a Measure L project. Gary Soiseth
“It’s my goal to make Turlock the first city in the county to start a Measure L project,” said Soiseth. “Our groundbreaking on the West Main corridor will occur no later than August 1. After this project, we will tackle other highly traveled corridors, including East Avenue and Golden State Boulevard.”
He also plans to highlight finalization of Turlock’s first-in-the-nation recycled water sale agreement with Del Puerto Water District. Under the 40-year contract, Turlock will send more than four billion gallons of recycled water to Westside farmers.
An update on the Turlock-Ceres partner project, the Stanislaus Regional Water Agency’s new drinking water facility, will be included. Water testing on the Tuolumne River has been started and groundbreaking is scheduled for spring, 2018.
“Our wells continue to be in jeopardy of high nitrate and arsenic levels,” he said. “With this new surface water plant, we will bring a new, reliable water resource for all households, businesses, and industries in Turlock.”
The mayor said new initiatives for the coming year will be announced focused on Turlock veterans and active military personnel.
The event is free. Coffee and doughnuts will be provided. The Carnegie Arts Center is at 250 N. Broadway, Turlock.