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City Manager's Message - September 2020

Dear Indio Neighbors,

We continue to navigate this very odd 2020 year. We have devolved into watching baseball games being played in front of life-sized cardboard fans. People get into trouble if they walk into a bank without a mask! And the phrase “back to school” has nothing to do with the campus. But life goes on. Those home-schooled kids will still need new clothes because their bodies keep growing! Interestingly, so does our community.

We are seeing a surprising strength in some parts of our local economy despite the pandemic. Home building is up in Indio! Does not seem to have slowed down at all. Our Development Services staff have supported this throughout the crisis. We also have new commercial projects moving through entitlement processes. And new inquiries every week. Our sales tax auditing firm (yes, there is such a thing!) tells us sales are higher than expected. Still down year-over-year, but better than we expected. Part of it is internet sales and part of it no doubt related to people staying home and not traveling as much. This development activity gives us a ray of optimism about a better day at the end of this.

We are still tremendously concerned about our small businesses — restaurants, small shops, gyms, nail salons. Please continue to make efforts to support these businesses to the extent you can. Most restaurants offer take-out. Tired of cooking? Try an Indio take out or one of the delivery services. We need to go extra lengths to keep these retail neighbors of ours going!

The most important thing right now is maintaining safety. As we end the summer and go into “flu season,” please be safe. I think we all know there is no miracle cure about to appear. We need to struggle through this fall and winter, trying to find ways to adapt further to this awkward, tedious coronavirus lifestyle -- but we get closer to medical solutions every day. Please keep your family and friends safe.

Great communities look after one another. Ours has stepped up to do that these last 5+ months. The medical workers, first-responders, the teachers, construction workers, food providers, the drive-thru and delivery people, grocery and store clerks, our gardeners and pool care staff, the people who still show up in masks to fix our plumbing or AC. There are ordinary people all around us doing extraordinary things on a daily basis. It might be tempting at a times like this to give in to depression, but look first at the positives. Our community is full of extraordinary people who keep on pushing through.

So, just as our kids keep growing, the rhythm of community keeps its steady beat. Those same kids are counting on us to give them the future they deserve. It’s a tough, troubling year, but we will get there! We are a town full of real people, not cardboard cutouts. Neighbors with a mission not just to survive, but to preserve and improve.

Couple other thoughts — the US Census is still going on. It is CRITICALLY IMPORTANT that we count every resident. Please see the article on that in this newsletter. Our federal and some state funding for the next 10 years depends on getting this right. Masked Census workers are literally on the street trying heroically to help us help ourselves! This matters!

And finally — while it is not exactly big news — I retired in August. At 70, I admit to being on the grayer side of the city manager profession. But I am grateful that the City Council immediately put me on contract to continue as Interim City Manager while we get through election season and then hire a new City Manager. So I expect to still be fully engaged in this role through the early part of next year. That’s good news for me because I love this job and the really great people I get to work with at City Hall. There are some peculiarities about the CalPERS pension system that pretty much forced my hand in filing for retirement, but we are Indio residents and I am hoping the next City Manager will let me stay involved as a City volunteer. Our future is full of hope and promise. I feel so fortunate to have landed here. Like many of our residents, I may be “retired,” but I’m not tired. I believe in Indio. So here I stay.

All the best,
Mark Scott
City Manager