The City of Stockton is officially out of bankruptcy. A federal judge approved the city's long-term financial plan Wednesday afternoon.
Out of bankruptcy means the city can now focus on refunding essential programs but new ones will have to go through some serious hoops. “The reality is, no matter how compelling an item is, we can only afford what we can afford,” City Manager Kurt Wilson explained. Wilson told FOX40 -- the Federal Judge in their bankruptcy case just approved their plan for financial stability. Wilson said they had to prove that they would be financially stable for decades and would not return to the red. He added the next step is setting the plan in motion, “We’re going to have to exercise a level of fiscal discipline that the city frankly hasn’t done in a very long time,” he said.
The good news is sitting well with city officials including Mayor Anthony Silva who said this ‘new’ day for Stockton could also mean better business for downtown. City Council just passed a their strategic economic plan Tuesday night to help lure more business to the area. "Passed the strategic economic plan for Stockton and that really talks about how we’re going to recruit new business owners here and at the same time all the incentives,” Mayor Anthony Silva, of the City of Stockton explained to FOX40.
The exit out of bankruptcy also meant good news for city retirees. The city declared bankruptcy three years ago and city employee retirees saw their medical benefits disappear to help with the city’s budget. The City Manager explained they’ve distributed $5.1 million to 1,100 Stockton City employee retirees. In the past, retirees have told FOX40 that having to pay for their own medical benefits hit them hard financially. "So even though it was the smallest of gestures, we did go ahead and get their checks in the mail,” Wilson said. What the city of Stockton perceives to be a small act will be added help for some Stockton City retirees.
Better financial footing also means better services for residents, officials said. "Quality of life issues should get a little extra attention. You’re talking the little things from like trash and graffiti getting cleaned up, people getting a better response time when they call the city,” Mayor Anthony Silva, City of Stockton said.
City Manager Kurt Wilson told FOX40 although they’re out of bankruptcy they're not completely out of debt. City officials will have to tighten up their purse strings when spending cash for the next few decades. "Being out of bankruptcy means we’re not stable, so the path that we’re on right now, the current trajectory, we can sustain, we’re good, we’re fine,” Wilson said. He added Stockton residents can expect to see a safer city with Measure A money funding the hiring of 120 new police officers for the city's police force. “If those 120 were a standalone department they would be the largest city department in this county,” the City Manager said.
"Now each and every day in Stockton we’re putting more police officers on the streets, trying to combat crime and we’re out of bankruptcy,” Mayor Silva said.
Officials have penned an open letter to the community explaining exactly what they project will happen for the city. That can be viewed here.