City of Rancho Mirage, California

SEAN SMITH DIRECTOR OF ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT AND MARKETING Director of Economic Development and Marketing, who then goes on to enumerate many of the city’s assets.“By virtue of the community being in a finan- cially strong position,we are able to do some great things to enhance the quality of life for our resi- dents, and add value to the experience that visitors have when they come here.” “Rancho Mirage is a City that relies heavily on transient occupancy tax and sales tax.Those two sources combine to make up over half of our annual revenue,”Smith continues.“My job, in particular, is to use our community assets that our residents are now enjoying so greatly, and try to expand into our tourism efforts.This way we can sell it as an add- ed-value asset to our resorts when they’re promot- ing our destination.” “We’re extremely well-managed from a financial standpoint.We’ve got our challenges in California, such as loss of redevelopment agencies, the Great Recession, the increase in costs to public safety, the increase in public pensions. In spite of that,we’ve been able to accumulate a reserve surplus of about $68 million. That’s for a city with a pop- ulation of about 18,000 on only 25 square miles.Those reserves have been put into different funds to address the future challenges and needs of the City, including emergencies. But we’ve also been able to accomplish some unique things that enhance the quality of life for our residents which is really our first and foremost responsibility. “Our Council is verymuch in tune with our com- munity. Every decision theymake is done so with CITY OF RANCHO MIRAGE, CALIFORNIA the best interests or our residents in mind.Most cities would say that, but what makes us unique, and what we’ve been able to do, for example, is build one of the best municipal libraries that you will find. We serve the entire valley.Our library provides pro- gramming that is on par with the best institutions and it’s all free to the public-- lifelong learning for free.And we offer that to everyone,whether they are Rancho Mirage residents or not. “We recently added an observatory to our of- ferings. I believe we may be one of the first in the nation to have a municipal library and observatory campus, all publicly-owned and operated. It’s a research-level observatory that operates in line with that free lifelong-learning mission. For instance,we were able to get a grant to bring every fifth-grade student in the valley to come to the observatory and learn about space and exploration of our universe and the things that our observatory is capable of. We hired a full-time astronomer,which I think is unique for a city.We do free star-gazing events and free daily tours. I anticipate we’ll be putting together astronomy-focused festivals here in the near future, and bring in more interested groups. “Another thing that we built several years ago is a completelymodern state-of-the-art outdoor amphi- theater,which is just a little down the road from the library/observatory campus.We’ve provided a sig- nificant amount of free programming there as well. We’ve done an annual music-in-the-park series for four years now,with some fairly notable bands.We ended last year’s series with Blue Oyster Cult, for in- stance.We have a cinema-under-the-stars program that we do in the spring, a wine and food festival, an art fair. Soon to come, for the first time in our region, are outdoor Broadway-style productions. “We have some green initiatives that make Ran- cho Mirage standout. Rancho Mirage established its own Community Choice Aggregate Program,where we can offer completely green energy to our resi- dents and our businesses at a reduced rate, all at a savings that they could not get through Southern