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Lathrop wary of Brown’s tunnel vision

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POSTED January 31, 2013 12:43 a.m.

LATHROP – Governor Jerry Brown has grand plans for California.

With the last election being hailed as a mandate for progressive policies in the Golden State – the Democrats now hold a supermajority in both the Assembly and the Senate – Brown’s “State of the State” speech last week was seen by some as a victory lap.

But with a hard-line stance on a peripheral project that would divert water from the Sacramento River around the San Joaquin via twin tunnels and into an aqueduct bound for Southern California, some communities on the Delta are keeping a watchful eye while the politics play themselves out in Sacramento.

Like the City of Lathrop.

Several months back the Lathrop City Council agreed to foot an $8,000 marker to help pay for a lobbyist that could bend the ear of lawmakers in the State Capitol on behalf of a coalition of cities that feared the excessive power of the Delta Stewardship Council.

Marked by some as an inland retread of the California Coastal Commission, the group – chaired by former State Senator Mike Machado of Linden – was formed under then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to both maintain and protect the Delta waterways.

But the issue, at least in the eye of Lathrop City Manager Stephan Salvatore, is whether the group would be given the rights to control entitled property along the river. It is something that taken on added significance for the community with the River Islands development currently slated to come on line.

“We’re definitely in opposition to certain parts of the Delta Plan,” Salvatore said. “We’re a developing community and obviously we want to avoid any negative impacts to entitled properties in our area.”

And while the fiscal outlook for California looks better than it has for years – showing a budget that might actually include black ink – there are still ways that communities like Lathrop are turning to in order to save a few dollars.

When the City Council meets next week, Salvatore said, they’ll discuss an energy conservation overhaul that will focus on city buildings and how to maximize efficiency.

Lathrop boasts fiscal reserves of more than $5 million are is expecting to see an additional $1.2 million annually thanks to the passing of Measure C – the one-cent sales tax increase that will benefit local programs and public safety.

The city’s budget review workshops typically begin in June.

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