Highlights from Folsom Mayor Kozlowski’s State of the City

Lots of promise ahead, but there are concerns

Folsom Mayor Mike Kozlowski delivered his State of the City address before a packed house, at an event hosted by Choose Folsom (Folsom Chamber of Commerce), on January 25th.

Serving his first term as Mayor Kozlowski highlighted some of Folsom’s recent accomplishments, gave a realistic look at our current state, and looked to the future.

He will deliver the speech in its entirety at the Folsom City Council Meeting January 30th, and it can be viewed live online or taped at the City website

Meanwhile, Mike graciously gave a copy to MyFolsom.com. Here are some highlights:

Budget:

  • The local economy is strong, business community is thriving, and we continue to see major development and investments in the
  • On the other hand, factors beyond our control slowed revenue growth and increased the rate at which expenses are growing, and our city’s budget today has more costs than it has revenue.
  • The explosive growth in online shopping and a shift of buying more services than goods, has slowed revenue growth to the lowest rate ever seen in the community.
  • As a result, sales tax revenue isn’t keeping up with the cost of providing services or maintaining the city’s infrastructure.
  • The city faces a financial shortfall that has the potential to impact public safety, public services, and our quality of life.
  • Over the years, the city has reduced benefits to new hires, taken steps to contain pension costs, and deferred hiring across all departments.
  • The city has deferred millions in maintenance and capital costs, reduced contracts, and continued to look for economy in purchasing and processes, and seeking revenue opportunities from city-owned assets.
  • Our financial situation is arguably the biggest challenge facing our city and our community.
  • We are a city that has been doing more with less, but we are past the point of making cuts that can go by without immediate notice.

Economic Indicators

  • While sales tax revenue may be growing more slowly, our local economy continues to expand.
  • The median home sales price is down 5 percent from last year, and the average price of a home sold during 2023 was just shy of $740,000.
  • There are nearly 39,000 jobs in Folsom, and our job growth remains strong, with an unemployment rate of 3.6% – among the lowest in the region.
  • Space is at a premium across all sectors of Folsom’s commercial property market. Office, industrial, flex and retail space are all over 90% occupied.
  • Folsom’s high quality of life is THE key factor that helps us maintain this competitive position. It’s our parks, trails, and open space.
  • Our safe and clean neighborhoods. Our top-notch schools. And our incredible business community. Our city’s high quality of life directly contributes to Folsom’s economic prosperity.

Community Development and Economic Development

  • Development interest in our city remains high, driven by our optimal location, high-quality amenities, and diverse employment opportunities.
  • In 2023, our city issued over 860 new single-family home permits, five multifamily apartment projects, and two commercial buildings, including The Shops at Folsom
    Ranch and Broadstone Villas.
  • We saw an increase in permits for residential apartment projects as well as an increase in commercial tenant improvements, including a new Dave & Busters at the Palladio.
  • In 2023, we welcomed almost 2,000 new residents to Folsom Ranch south of Highway 50.
  • We broke ground on the first park and fire station in the plan area, added nine new miles of trails, and Folsom Cordova Unified School District broke ground on its second school, Alder Creek Elementary School.
  • The community celebrated the area’s first restaurant – Capriotti’s – which was followed closely by the opening of the second Folsom Habit burger location and a pizza restaurant The Slice.
  • We just received plans for a new 95,000-square-foot commercial shopping center with the first major grocery store in Folsom Ranch.
  • We are updating our zoning code and focusing on mixed-use and higher-density residential development in key areas of the city. We’re also exploring development opportunities on city-owned surplus land to support economic development and tourism.

Healthcare

  • Along with all the residential and commercial development, our city is becoming a healthcare hub. New medical facilities provide expanded quality healthcare to Folsom residents, bring high-quality jobs to our community, and strengthen our local economy.
  • UC Davis Health is making rapid progress on the construction of their new Folsom Medical Office Building. It’s the first of several projects planned for the 34-acre site at Highway 50 and East Bidwell, all part of what will be called the Folsom Center for Health.
  • Grading and construction are underway on Dignity Health’s new state-of-the-art medical complex on a 27-acre site at the northeast corner of East Bidwell Street and Alder Creek Parkway.
  • Kaiser Permanente continues its expansion with plans submitted for a four-story state-of-the-art medical office building next to its existing ambulatory surgical center on Palladio Parkway.
  • Sutter Health will soon begin construction on a new state-of-the-art 106,000-square-foot Ambulatory facility located at the intersection of Iron Point Road and Bidwell.

Long-Range Planning

  • While we focus on our needs for today, we continue our long-range focus on shaping our city’s future. We recently adopted a five-year strategic plan, and two planning efforts are underway to set the foundation for a prosperous and vibrant future.
  • As identified in our General Plan, the River District Master Plan initiative is underway to activate Folsom’s waterfront to boost recreation opportunities and economic development while preserving our environmental and historical resources.
  • We have recently made the first steps to take a fresh look at the opportunities in and the needs of the city’s Central Business District. The goal being to encourage new investment in the area along East Bidwell and Riley Streets between Sutter Middle School and Blue Ravine Road.
  • The new year ushers in a refreshed focus on supporting economic development. We have strategically allocated resources to focus on a three-year economic development action plan. By prioritizing economic development, we ensure sustainable growth and a brighter future for Folsom.
  • To drive tourism, Choose Folsom is studying viable destination amenities for the city, such as recreation and entertainment venues, boutique hotels, and conference space.
  • They are harnessing the power of technology, including smart city software to measure economic opportunities and a new app, RideWithGPS, that customizes and plans your bike ride in real time.
  • Choose Folsom also invested in many upgrades to the Historic Folsom Depot, including brand new exterior paint, and they selected the owners of Sociology Coffee to operate a General Store on the ground floor.
  • This year will see SiFi Networks deliver its first fast and reliable gigabit-speed fiber-optic broadband-internet connectivity to homes and businesses in Folsom. Over several years that network will expand to every resident and business.
  • Folsom Lake College will open a new state-of-the-art science building, housing biology and chemistry labs and a 4,000- square-foot science center. It’s the ideal training ground for Folsom’s next generation pursuing STEM careers.
  • When it comes to supporting innovation, look no further than Choose Folsom’s Granite School, an innovation hub and incubator for businesses in technology, healthcare, and beyond.
  • Choose Folsom remains laser-focused on its goal of servicing at least 30 companies and creating 200 new jobs over the next 3 years.

Public Safety 

  • PUBLIC SAFETY REMAINS THE TOP PRIORITY OF THE COUNCIL
  • This is reflected in this year’s budget, which allocated 51 percent of our sales and property tax revenue directly to police, fire, and medical services.
  • In just the last year alone, the Folsom Fire Department responded to 9,500+ incidents, showcasing the commitment and efficiency of our firefighting personnel.
  • Last year, we broke ground on Fire Station 34, the first fire station south of Highway 50.
  • The Fire Department is committed to succession planning and professional growth. We will welcome 19 new recruits from Fire Academy 23-1.
  • Folsom’s men and women in blue responded to more than 44,000 calls for service in 2023 -6,000 more calls than in 2022.
  • Our Community Crime Suppression Unit is undergoing a transformation, not just in name but in its approach. The unit will now be known as the Problem-Oriented Policing (POP) team, reflecting our commitment to addressing community problems beyond crime suppression. This includes focusing on issues like homelessness and combating the high number of thefts in our local businesses.
  • With over 150 additional accidents reported in 2023 compared to the previous year, the Traffic Unit will be conducting additional saturation patrols and checkpoints to curb drunk driving and improve road safety, thanks to a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety.
  • Our Neighborhood Services Division found a new home at 11 Natoma Street, with 2800 square feet of office space which will house our School Resource Officers, Problem-Oriented Policing team, Traffic Unit, and Animal Control Unit.

Parks and Recreation

  • Our well-connected trail system, parks, library, aquatic center, sports complex, senior and art center are enjoyed by us locally, but also support tourism and economic development – bringing in more than 200,000 participants annually for tournaments, swim meets, and special events. .
  • We currently have 48 beautiful parks, more than 50 miles of trails, and nearly 1,200 acres of dedicated open space.
  • Our amenities remain a source of great pride, and that’s why our ability to maintain our parks and facilities is so important.
  • Last October marked a major milestone as we celebrated the Folsom City Zoo Sanctuary’s 60th Anniversary. The zoo welcomes 145,000 residents and visitors each year while providing a safe haven for rescued wild and domestic animals.
  • Last year, we broke ground and hosted a community celebration at Prospector Park, the first park in the Folsom Plan Area, set to open this fall. It will offer a play area, soccer fields, ball field, sports courts, dog park, and dueling zip lines.
  • Progress continues in planning Benevento Family Park next to Vista del Lago High School, and the park is slated to open in 2025. This park will reflect the community’s priorities and will include a children’s play area, sand volleyball courts, and a hillside play space.
  • This year, we’ll begin construction on a new project at Livermore Community Park, bringing new trails and a much-needed expansion of the parking lot.
  • The Johnny Cash trail will see its first public art installation this year. This summer, that first 7-foot tall bronze guitar pick will be installed on the Johnny Cash Trail entrance in Historic Folsom.
  • And thanks to some hard work and help from our California Assembly member Josh Hoover, we have received over $425,000 in state funding to use for casting and placing of the second 7-foot tall bronze guitar pick at the opposite end of the Johnny Cash Trail.
  • Staff also worked to secure essential grant funding, which will allow the city to complete the Folsom-Placerville Rail Trail – the first and only planned Class 1 trail connection from the Willow Creek Trail corridor near Oak Avenue to Folsom Ranch south of Highway 50.
  • The Folsom Public Library is a hub for knowledge and community in our city – welcoming over 175,000 visitors and checking out more than a half-million items in last year alone. More than your traditional library, it connects visitors with resources and community. The library has recently refreshed its carpeting, expanded its bookstore, modernized public computers, abolished late fines, and in the coming year the library will expand its collection of books in languages spoken by our community members.

Public Works

  • Providing an effective transportation network is not only a quality-of-life amenity but also an economic driver. Last year, we completed the first phase of a traffic safety project on Folsom Lake Crossing, adding median barriers and new paving. And we secured federal funding for the second phase of the project.
  • We completed design work on a project that will improve traffic flow at the Iron Point Road and East Bidwell Street intersection by adding a third left turn lane from westbound Iron Point on to southbound East Bidwell, easing access to Highway 50. Work is set to begin this Spring.
  • And we wrapped up the Scott Road Extension project, improving travel between Highway 50 and Rancho Murieta, as well as access to the Prairie City State Vehicular Recreation Area. Upgrades continue on our intelligent traffic management system to manage the flow of traffic. And we adopted a roundabout-first policy to begin replacing traffic signals with roundabouts – a safer, more efficient form of traffic measures.
  • Our Public Works Department is making progress on its green energy goals, and we are preparing to convert 50 percent of the City’s fleet to zero-emission vehicles by 2035, and we are expanding our organics and food waste recycling program.
  • We continue design and environmental work on the Empire Ranch Road Interchange and continue to seek critical funding for the project, and construction could start as early as 2025.

Water

  • Last year, we invested $14.4 million in water and wastewater infrastructure, a behind-the-scenes yet critical investment in maintaining the clean, reliable water that Folsom is known for.
  • Water and economic development have a significant connection, as clean and reliable water can be a key factor in attracting businesses, such as Gekkeikan’s state-of-the-art sake brewing facility and Kikkoman’s soy sauce manufacturing plant.
  • As we address today’s water needs, we must proactively plan for the future. That is why we are launching The Water Vision Project, a long-range water supply planning effort to guide the management of our water resources over the next 50 years. Acknowledging the potential for future climate-related challenges, we will be working with the Folsom community to identify a diverse water supply portfolio.

Community That Cares

In Folsom, our success can be entirely attributed to our strong community. It’s the key ingredient to our secret sauce.

  • On each and every day, you can find volunteers serving their fellow community members, schools, neighborhoods, and city, donating time helping our Zoo Sanctuary and library, planting trees, cleaning up parks, coaching youth sports, refereeing youth sports and supporting our public safety agencies.
  • This spirit of community and volunteerism is evident in every corner of our city on Community Service Day, where thousands of volunteers tackle service projects throughout Folsom each year and when nearly 60,000 pounds of food are collected to benefit the Twin Lakes Food Bank.

During closing comments, Mayor Kozlowski announced that Samsung has decided to open an Research and Development facility in Folsom, with Vice President Jinman Han stating that they chose Folsom, in large part, due to th e talent pool in our town.

The mayors speech can be heard in its entirety at the Folsom City Council meeting January 30, and viewed online at the City website.

Visit www.myfolsom.com for more information about our community, events and news.

Interested in buying a home here? Contact Steve Heard – eXp Realty of California, Inc – DRE#01368503 – 916 718 9577 – steve@myfolsom.com  

See the link to the current list of Homes for Sale in Folsom