Many cities have faced one hardship or another during the recent economic downturn. However, Lincoln seems to have suffered them all, and all are clearly on display.
The city experienced exponential population growth – 250 percent in just 10 years. Over eight years, new home construction rose from 83 houses to 2,807 – or a 3,382 percent increase. And as a result, the city’s service and infrastructure had a corresponding increase. Now that the boom has gone bust, the city hall sits half vacant, a fire engine and station is shuttered, a library closed, and nearly half of the police force has left.
In fact, staffing has taken such a hit in the city that if two fire fighters call in sick or on vacation at the same time, one of the two open stations must close. There are only 19 firefighters left.
The city is hampered by tax revenues. Home values remain abysmally low – after a 45 percent drop from the peak prices. Because the city never developed a robust commercial or retail center, the city averages just $44 per year in sales tax for each of its residents. Neighboring Roseville collects $235 per resident. And its likely that a slow recovery both of the economy and housing prices will protract the pain in the city, leading to further cuts of city services and staffing
From the Sacramento Bee:
Close to the city of Lincoln’s downtown, Fire Station 33 sits in suspended animation. A gleaming ladder truck parked inside has never seen service. Rows of lockers for firefighters’ gear sit empty.
The station on McBean Park Drive, which closed in 2010 after only a year of operation, is as good a symbol as any of the fiscal crisis that beset City Hall in this Placer County town. After four years of cutting its staff, slashing expenses and squeezing services, revenues still are falling and there are few signs of recovery anytime soon.
Read the full article here.