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Opportunity Knocks
Al Corti | Del Mar City Council

 

I have made a career investing in real estate and when asked what are the keys to making a wise real estate investment, my answer is always the same: have a clear vision of what you want to accomplish, pick the best location and leverage your strengths. I live by this creed and it was my reasoning when I chose to move to Del Mar more than 20 years ago and why I became more involved in the City. Investing my money and my time in the best community I could identify would reap many rewards. So far, this advice has served me and my family well and can serve Del Mar also.

Why is now such a good time to invest in Del Mar?
For the last 10 or so years, during one of the more difficult recessions in recent history, Del Mar has not only weathered the financial storm that has plagued most other municipalities but has a very healthy balance sheet, has significant cash reserves, has a plan to deal with its pension liability and still has significant cash flows. As a result, Del Mar shares one of the highest credit ratings of all cities in the entire state of California...a testament to fiscal responsibility, conservative spending and rock solid revenue potential. With this strong financial foundation, Del Mar has the ability to borrow significant funds at historically low interest rates by utilizing its excess cash flow to make the debt payments and retaining its AAA credit rating.

While Del Mar has a great long term vision via our Community Plan, we do not have a good long term financial plan implement the vision. Del Mar’s financial house is in order but the foundation of our City, the infrastructure, is not. Currently, we have more than $50,000,000 of long term capital improvements that will incrementally be required over the next 5, 10, 20 and 30 year horizons with no concrete plan to pay for them.

Recently, the City Council with much support from the community, has approved the expenditure of $2,900,000 to implement a sidewalk plan from one end of town to the other. They also unanimously supported the plan to build a new City Hall at an estimated cost of $8,000,000. In what I feel is the most important decision, the City Council voted to adopt a long term financial plan for the City and explore the bonding capabilities of Del Mar.

I am in full support of this long term plan because I believe it will enable us to live up to our potential by leveraging our strengths for the benefit of the community. Conversely, not doing so, I think is fiscally irresponsible.

From my perspective, not borrowing in real estate times like this is similar to telling your children not to invest in a house and take advantage of the lowest mortgage interest rates in more than two generations. Especially when you know they have a solid foundation of education and training with a good career/earning path, savings enough for a significant down payment and have adequate reserves for a rainy day. That course would preclude them from fulfilling their dreams, stifle their potential and limit their investment returns. I feel the same about limiting Del Mar’s potential. Now is the time to invest in our community. If we do it wisely, the rewards will be plentiful for current generations and those to come.

Del Mar city staff along with independent expert counsel as well as the City’s finance committee is evaluating the bonding issue: attempting to determine the right amount and right timing to take on City debt.

I invite the public to engage in the capital plan discussion and give the City Council your insights. Together, I am sure we will make the right decisions and a wise investment in Del Mar.

 

 

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