Happy New Year! While we endured our fair share of challenges during 2021, the City of Napa and our incredible staff still managed to press forward, accomplish City goals, see positive change in our community and persevere through difficult times. Though Napa has much to look forward to in the new year, we step into this fresh season on top of the hard work and successes we achieved last year. Because of all the projects and initiatives we tackled in 2021, the City of Napa can optimistically look toward our future.
Though 2021 was hard, the year also brought new talent and experience to our Executive Team, which helps shape the path forward for our City. We were fortunate to gain Heather Ruiz as our Human Resources Director, Napa Police Department Captain Jennifer Gonzales was selected as our Police Chief and Anne Cardwell as our Finance Director. These City leaders are already making positive impacts within our City, their respective departments and the community.
In addition to employing these incredible leaders, our Human Resources Department has kicked-off a series of hiring pushes aimed at finding and retaining the best and brightest for our City. After leaving dozens of positions vacant for more than a year because of pandemic-related financial decisions, Napa is eagerly rebuilding our staff and offering some relief to the employees who had to accomplish more work with fewer hands over the past two years. We are seeking out high-quality, talented candidates from across California for a number of positions using innovative methods we are certain will attract the right people for our community.
While we are hiring new employees, Napa also prioritized Diversity, Equity and Inclusion training last year for our current staff. After the City Council declared racism as a public health crisis in early 2021, we are proud to say that 100% of Napa’s staff completed the first year of our DEI training to educate our staff on how to ensure our government is accessible and inclusive to all members of our community. The training covers topics like implicit bias, cultural awareness, racial justice and more to best equip our staff to be as equitable as possible. We look forward to the second year of our DEI training and learning.
Further, to assure all our employees are set up for success within our agency, Napa has completed another milestone of establishing a new financial system by implementing the Enterprise Resource Planning project. Future phases of implementation are coming this year and collectively the new system will help our agency to accurately and efficiently organize day-to-day activities, such as accounting, project management, utility billing, procurement and more. Once fully installed, these technological advancements will allow staff to easily collaborate with other departments, track projects, manage funds and ensure the long-term health of our agency.
Outside the doors of City Hall, Napa will continue making progress on crucial and significant priorities within our City limits. A staff team of employees from the Napa Police Department, Napa Fire Department, City Manager's Office, Parks & Recreation and Public Works, as well as Napa County and Napa County Flood Control & Water Conservation District have collaborated to help to address homelessness and serve our unhoused population. Collaborating across departments and agencies has allowed us to successfully gain insight into the issues most important to our community and develop actionable strategies to create more workforce and affordable housing as well as supportive services. We will keep moving these projects forward in the coming year and are hopeful these strategies will benefit all of Napa.
It has also been a year in which our Economic Development team started laying the foundation to diversify our economy by identifying “creative space and local manufacturing” opportunities. The Utilities Department has managed our water resources and expanded our recycle and reuse efforts to reduce solid waste going to landfill. Efforts to address climate action are present in many of the projects we undertake as well as in drafting our General Plan.
Finally, Napa remains dedicated to our goal of improving our entire network of neighborhood streets and sidewalks with new, pavement and concrete and updated (or new) traffic signals. This intensive and long-term project started in 2019 and our Public Works teams have been working diligently to repair our neighborhoods and bring a greater sense of safety and community to Napa. Though dozens of miles of roads have been completed already, our teams have no plans of stopping until all our City streets are safe and smooth.
While some may have been eager to see the end of 2021, I will look back with pride at all we have accomplished and I’m looking forward to building on this growth and climbing even higher in 2022.
As the city manager, it has not been simple to steer us through rocky waters over the last two years. 2022 is starting off with its own challenges but, the determination, diligence and untiring work of Napa’s staff and community has made it possible to keep our eyes on the light at the end of the tunnel. I am increasingly grateful for the incredible people I get to call coworkers, neighbors, community members and friends. Together, we are ensuring Napa is a great place to live and work.
With wishes for health and prosperity in the New Year,
P.S. Napa will always stay open and honest about our City happenings and decisions. You can subscribe to our emails or follow the @CityofNapa on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter to stay updated.