A lot is heading Banning’s way.
A dozen businesses are on the horizon, and thousands of homes on the periphery, though many of those are a few years out.
Also looming over the city’s future is the pall of some serious budget decisions, much of that fate lies in voters’ hands in a couple of weeks.
The State of the City was given by Mayor George Moyer last Thursday, co-sponsored by the city and the Banning, San Gorgonio Pass Chamber of Commerce and hosted at Sun Lakes Country Club’s ballroom.
According to Moyer, Banning will soon welcome new businesses Leslie’s Pool Supplies, O’Reilly Auto Parts, CareAge Medical, a La Quinta Inn, and a 7-11.
Lawrence Equipment is adding an additional 146,000 square feet of space and hiring more than 100 new manufacturing jobs.
Southern California West Coast Electric is increasing storage and corporate office space with another 30,000 square feet.
Pardee Homes’ Atwell community, which upon full buildout will encompass more than 4,400 homes, will have model homes up for prospective buyers by January 2020.
Diversified Pacific Communities will be a few years further down the road with their 3,385 proposed residential units.
The city has implemented first-time home buyer programs, rehabilitation grant programs, and forgiveable loans for home improvements, to promote home ownership in Banning.
Moyer talked about some of the street improvements, improvements to water infrastructure, city park enhancements, and praised the electric utility for going above and beyond state requirements of 30 percent renewable energy provisions, noting that 54 percent of Banning’s power is provided through renewable content.
The Police Department increased salaries and Public Employee Retirement System contributions for officers and supervisors, and hired an officer dedicated to working just with the homeless.
The Community Services Department keeps up to 750 participants occupied through youth sports, and 480 seniors regularly enjoy lunch at the senior center. Lots of swimmers utilize the city pool, and lots of bags of food are distributed to seniors.
Banning has benefited from the We Run 5k Health Fair, Halloween Fest, 4th of July Family Fun Fest, and the Annual Skate Run, and has enjoyed the city’s signature events, Stagecoach Days and the Concerts in the Park.
Banning has its challenges, Moyer admitted: pension obligations will increase nearly $900,000 over the next couple of years; the city is struggling to compensate for the loss of nearly half of a million dollars that the county no longer contributes to pay for four police officers; CalFire’s contract for services to Banning increased by more than $700,000 through 2021; and an increase in services for county animal control add another $50,000 in expenses that the city was not really ready to absorb.
The city is advocating for the passage by voters in November of Measure P, which the city anticipates would generate up to $2.3 million to help fund city services; and Measures N and O, which would legalize taxation of cannabis cultivators and retail outlets, according to the city.