Mayor: Development has improved Millbrae’s future 

An outpouring of new revenue from development in the city — which, just a few years ago, was in dire fiscal straits — may allow officials to do away with a fire assessment once considered essential to staying afloat.

Mayor Marc Hershman on Thursday gave the annual state of the city address and was positive that the city was headed in the right direction, fiscally and otherwise.

"As Vince Lombardi famously said, it is not whether you get knocked down; it’s whether you get up," Hershman said. "Well, Millbrae has gotten up and we are standing tall."

Since the address last year, construction has started or been completed on a host of projects, including the 979 Broadway building, a mixed-use development located at 88 South Broadway slated to house a 24-Hour Fitness and a day spa; a Chipotle Mexican Grill; a Walgreens; and 109 condominiums.

Construction on a car wash at Wilson Plaza is also under way, and a new and improved set of hotels at the current Clarion Hotel site is expected to bring additional hotel-tax revenue into city coffers.

A number of the cost-saving measures from the city’s down years — which included outsourcing police dispatcher service to San Mateo County, sharing a police chief with Brisbane, a parks and recreation director with Burlingame and fire department training with San Bruno — rubbed some residents the wrong way when they were first enacted.

Though the city is seeing an increase in revenue, City Manager Ralph Jaeck said there will likely be shared services in the future to keep costs down.

Hershman estimates that with some$1.5 million in park-in-lieu fees paid to the city by new developers, the city will be able to make significant repairs to city parks.

A $1.1 million fire assessment, levied on all property owners to help pay for fire services, expires in 2009. But with the expected revenue coming in from the park-in-lieu fees, development impact fees and, eventually, property and sales taxes, the city stands poised to stop the tax, Hershman said.

"This is my third [state of the city address], and I think that over the past three years, the city has really changed for the better," Jaeck said. "It’s changed from just barely getting by to experiencing some positive growth to start heading in the positive direction."

tramroop@examiner.com

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