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Shopping Local Means Big Bucks for a Small Town
March, 2007 - Issue #29
It's a lovely Saturday afternoon and you decide to spend it in the park, flying kites with your children. The park is clean and well kept with plenty of parking spaces and mature trees to provide you some shade. Did you notice on the trip over to the park that the road was well maintained, flowing smoothly and free of potholes?

The ambience of the Santa Clarita Valley is well documented in our parks and roadways. Houses are sold to those who want to enjoy our recreational facilities, schools and rolling hills. Being named one of the safest cities hasn't hurt, either. But roads, parks, schools and safety come at a cost. This year's law enforcement contract, for example, was secured from the city's general fund for $14 million.

This is where the residents of Santa Clarita can give themselves a big pat on the back. By shopping locally for everyday items within the city limits such as dinner, clothing, car repairs or pet supplies, one percent of every tax dollar given goes directly into the city's general fund. Those dollars account for 43 percent of the city's budget.

"Roads, parks, schools and safety come at a cost. This year's law enforcement contract, for example, was secured from the city's general fund for $14 MILLION."
Last year the City of Santa Clarita spent $5 million on road improvements, said Spokeswoman Gail Ortiz. Surrey seals and overlays are done citywide as evidenced with the recent completion of Soledad Canyon Road. "You rarely see a pothole in the street for more than a week," she said. That dedication to city streets has earned Santa Clarita a spot in the top 10 percent in the nation for well-maintained roads.

Other general fund dollars were spent on new parks including the Veterans Plaza in Newhall and the Oaks Springs Canyon Park in Canyon Country. "Any park that the city builds, we try to use grant money, but we usually end up supplementing with general fund money," Ortiz said.

Tired of waiting in traffic to get across town? The Cross Valley Connector, a direct connection between Interstate 5 and Highway 14, was supplemented by general funds.

With Santa Clarita getting ready to celebrate its 20th anniversary, it's never been easier to shop locally. Twenty years ago, one had to drive over the hill to purchase that perfect dress for that special occasion. Today, our city boasts numerous boutiques and name brands to keep a lady's closet well-stocked. Your neighbors have been busy opening stores and providing services in the valley, fulfilling their dreams and helping you save on gas.

Just Us Girls, a hip clothing boutique in Valencia, opened in 2000. Owners Mary Kay Drury and Lesleen Kukucka wanted a shop to provide something different to the ladies of the community.

"Lesleen was my personal shopper at Margo's," Drury said referring to the high-end boutique in Newhall. "My husband used to joke that he would get a call from Lesleen on Groundhog's Day saying it was a perfect occasion to buy his wife a gift."

Drury was impressed with the service and look provided by Lesleen and together they created Just Us Girls for the busy Santa Clarita moms who work out at the gym, cart their children around town and attend soccer games. "These moms don't want to look sloppy but don't need high-end clothes. They want to look good," Drury said. "We provide that."

The small business owners in Santa Clarita provide much more than tax dollars and a great purchase, they are also responsive when the community comes knocking. Got a silent auction coming up, school fundraiser or sporting event? Santa Clarita is a big fundraising town and if you glance at the list of donors, you will see that many of the small businesses are big contributors. As supporters of Carousel Ranch, an equestrian therapy facility, Drury said it's important to help out. "If the town supports you, you support the town," she said. Located on Town Center Drive near the Hyatt Valencia, Just Us Girls is entering into its seventh year of business.

Owning your business is the most gratifying thing you can do, Drury said, but it can also be the most stressful. "We feel what everyone else feels economically," she said. "[Small business owners] work three times as hard for every dollar. People in this community understand what the businesses are doing. That's why we give back."

Let's keep the momentum going. Our community cherishes its image. We have great facilities in a safe environment. We are an active community and we help others. Let's pitch in to keep our town in the top 10. Support your neighbors, your local businesses, and in turn, you will be supporting your chosen way of life.
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