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Mayor Gordo Says It’s Time to Leap Into the Future in State of the City Address

Published on Friday, March 1, 2024 | 5:01 am

In his State of the City speech on Thursday, Mayor Victor Gordo said the City has weathered the economic cycle better than most. “We continue to see businesses invest in Pasadena as their desired location, we have a stable retail, restaurant, and entertainment economy, and we have strong property values,” said Mayor Gordo.

But, Gordo said slower revenue growth, primarily from taxes, will present some challenges to maintain services and investment in critical infrastructure while ensuring a balanced budget.

“ … The state and federal governments are facing significant budget deficits, and this creates greater pressure for us to be in a position to provide local funding to serve the community,”

Audience members listen intently as Mayor Victor Gordo delivers the 2024 State of the City address at Caltech on Thursday, Feb. 29, 2024. [Eddie Rivera/Pasadena Now]
The City Charter mandates the mayor present a thematic speech on the budget no later than February.

The speech marks the beginning of the City’s budgetary process and begins the run up towards the submission of the budget by the City Council in May.

The City’s General Fund revenue has improved from $303 million in Fiscal Year 2022 to $324 million last year, not including the $33.9 million the City received as part of the American Rescue Plan Act.

In 2019, the General Fund was $267 million.

The City’s General Fund is largely driven by strong property values and sales tax, which account for more than half of our General Fund revenue.

“While sales tax revenue has realized tremendous growth from $61.4 million in 2021 to $75 million in the current year, the future forecast provides for much slower growth going forward due both a slowing economy and changes in how sales tax is allocated to cities,” Gordo said. “In fact, the current year’s revenue forecast is for no growth in comparison to last year.”

Transient Occupancy Tax, which is charged to hotel and short-term rental customers, has surpassed pre-pandemic Levels.

However, business travel and occupancy have not yet returned to prior levels.

Due to strong tourism and leisure demand overall, this tax revenue should see improvement going forward with the anticipated 2025 opening of the new AC Hotel in the Playhouse District and two additional hotels that are in the early planning stage.

The Rose Bowl, Brookside Golf Course, and the Convention Center have a positive economic outlook going forward, with a robust calendar of planned events and a continued high demand for golf and golf amenities. Gordo told the crowd at Caltech.

The speech also looked at what lies ahead for the City, including projects like the 710-corridor planning process and renovating the cornerstone of our Civic Center—the Central Library.

The speech also places emphasis on the City’s commitment to affordable housing.

“We’re tackling the issue of affordable housing head-on,” Gordo said. “Some people think we’re not doing enough to address the affordable housing crisis, but consider this: 1,709 of the 1,986 units built in the City during the last four years—over 85%—have been affordable housing units, which includes low or moderate income, workforce, and permanent supportive housing. About 10% of all Pasadena households now live in affordable housing—either an affordable housing unit or receiving rental assistance such as Section 8—and more affordable housing projects are in the pipeline.

The speech also placed emphasis on the City’s fight against climate change and a continued relationship with the Pasadena Unified School District.

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