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FBI Probes and Budget Cuts, What a Year It's Been

Loma Linda Mayor Rhodes Rigsby and San Bernardino County Third District Supervisor provide updates on the highs, lows and progress made in 2011.

It’s been a lean year for Loma Linda, just as it has been for many other cities, Mayor Rhodes Rigsby told more than 100 people at the chamber’s annual State of the Community Luncheon.

But despite a 20 percent decline in city revenue, the challenge of losing redevelopment funds and the cost of paying off millions in repairs made by a massive 2010 storm, Loma Linda balanced its budget and managed to hang on to most of its services, he said.

“The city of Loma Linda takes its position in the community very seriously,” Rigsby said. “We believe we are here to help the community, not to get in its way. We believe that when you run out of money, you stop spending.”

Rigsby and San Bernardino County Third District supervisor Neil Derry were among the community leaders who reviewed the year and talked briefly about the future during the 20th annual State of the Community event. The luncheon was held in the newly completed Loma Linda Academy Heritage Room.

This year’s achievements included:

  • The addition of 164 new affordable housing units on the east side of Poplar Street.
  • Receiving more than $200,000 in grants for the Tippecanoe Bridge project. The city is working with the San Bernardino Associated Governments, the California Department of Transportation District 8 and the City of San Bernardino on the reconstruction of the Interstate 10/Tippecanoe Avenue interchange.
  • City maintenance crews replaced 224 street lights with LED lights, which provide more light and less glare and cuts down the cost of keeping the lights on.
  • Old water meters that had undercharged the community for years were replaced, helping the city avoid a need to raise water rates by charging the correct amount for water use. The bigger water bill in turn seems to be motivating people to conserve water, Ribsgy said.
  • The city worked to get $1.2 million in FEMA reimbursements to pay for the damage caused by the 2010 winter storms.

Derry provided updates at the county level.

“The county is on the fifth FBI investigation,” said Derry, after telling the crowd he would first deliver the year’s bad news. “If you haven’t seen the newspapers they are now at the San Bernardino Airport.”

On Sept. 21, the FBI officers raided San Bernardino International Airport Authority offices, the airport’s developer and the developer’s residence looking for evidence of bribery, conspiracy and other possible crimes, according to media reports.

“It’s not a good thing, but it’s a good thing they’re here,” Derry said regarding the investigation. “We’ve had a lot of problems in the county for many, many years. And I think the FBI is here looking at the different agencies because, let’s just say there have been some things that have happened that shouldn’t have happened. It sort of got under the radar of our local agencies.”

The other bad news, the airport still does not have an airline, he said. Of course they want to find one to make it a successful facility.

Among the good news was the return of Boeing, which is now conducting tests on its large aircraft.

“It’s so big, you can’t tell it’s going as fast as it is,” Derry said.

He added that after a contentious debate between supervisors, the county’s district lines were redrawn. Loma Linda remained within the third district.

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