Documenter: Loren Friesen
At 7:02 PM the meeting was called to order. The livestream camera was placed on a desk very close to the councilmembers’ desks, with (in order of proximity) Councilmember Tuttle, Mayor Fast, and Councilmember Bentacout in view. The other two councilmembers, all presenting staff, and the public were out of view. Members on screen were dressed in formal/semi formal attire. All council members were masked.
The meeting started with a two-and-a-half minute invocation. All members stood up, crossed their hands, and tilted their head down in respect. Following the invocation was the pledge of allegiance.
Reedley’s City Council Members include (bold if present):
Council Member Tuttle of District 1
Mayor Fast of District 2
Mayor Pro-Tempore Beck of District 3
Councilmember Soleno of District 4
Councilmember Betancourt of District 5
The tone throughout the meeting has procedural but included light hearted moments of jest. City Manager Nicole Zieba noted that there were 3 attendees via livestream (myself included).
Part of the lighthearted moments came as part of approving the agenda, which included recognizing Tom Brandt of his service from 2002 -to 2020 for the community service commission. When collecting his plaque all parties remained masked.
The meeting adjourned at 8:51 PM.
Beyond a city council’s general goal of providing social services and administering governmental responsibilities for its citizens, a goal outlined throughout this particular meeting was being transparent as possible for its citizens. This came up especially during the mid-year budgeting presentation.
Another specific goal of one agenda item was to increase health and safety of the community by offering free swim lessons.
All members approved the agenda.
All members approved for the consent agenda, with no public comment.
Council member Tuttle motioned to approve, and council member Soleno seconded the Sierra Kings Health Care District Mini Grant Application, which offers opportunities of swim lessons to those who normally can’t afford fee-based lessons. All members voted yes.
Council member Betancourt motioned to approve, and seconded by Mayor Pro-Tempore Beck, a resolution that authorized the city manager to approve and submit a grant application regarding the revitalization project for Camacho Park. All members voted yes.
Mayor Pro-Tempore Beck motioned to approve, and seconded by council member Tuttle, a resolution that revised the fund balance policy for the city’s general fund reserve to officially aim for 90 days worth of operation funds. All members voted yes.
Council member Bentacourt motioned to approve, and seconded by council member Soleno, the mid-year city budget, including several items regarding projects such as:
Contributing $200,000 to the general fund reserve to start to increase their reserve from the 60 day operational ability to 90 day operational ability
$20,000 for audio and visual equipment for the council hall – $11,000 for new interface that makes technical adjustments simple and easy, and $9,000 for two cameras
$50,000 request for Reedley Community Bandshell at Pioneer Park
$2000 for Internet hardware for the community center to provide better, more consistent internet
$11,000 from Measure C to supplement the $70,000 federal money regarding the CMAC grant to reconstruct 9 allies
$10,000 from Measure C to add bicycle lanes to constructing roads
$12,000 in funding taken from the project to redevelop the city hall parking lot to be re-appropriated to the Manning Ave and Kings River County Work, as it will be reimbursed later.
Sarah Reed presented the Sierra Kings Health Care district mini grant application, and outlined it as an opportunity to receive funding to improve community health and safety.
Councilmember Betancourt said she was happy to see this application because in her neighborhood, which is lower income, many people go to the river to cool off during the summer.
Mayor Fast asked if summer schools will still have swim lessons and how those receiving instruction would be selected.
Councilmember Tuttle asked about age limits, time, and whether transportation would be provided.
Councilmember Soleno highlighted that many people come to the Kings River and don’t understand its a potentially dangerous environment.
City Manager reminded that this is just an application and that a panel of experts will review the application, but she thinks they are in a strong position because some panel members were in attendance during a community proposal presentation.
Sarah Reed presented the approval request for the grant application to the statewide park development and community revitalization program for Camacho Park. She noted it was the 3rd and final time applying. After being rejected last time staff talked a lot with state program offices to figure out where they were weak. Although this application is not a guarantee, staff tried to research what was successful in other applications, which included:
Smart irrigation system (not water grass when it’s unnecessary)
Shade covers over the dugout
She also noted that the grant application determines eligibility by both household median and park space, which Camacho Park has a strong standing (in terms of being a priority for the grant) for both factors.
Mayor Fast asked if a single stall restroom would be installed at the adult field on the hill. Reed answered yes, and they would replace the trees there with smaller trees. This would not be an issue because they have received complaints about the larger stress.
Paul Melikian, assistant city manager, gave a presentation that proposed to revise the general fund reserve policy, requesting to change it from a 60 days of operating expenditures to 90 days of operating expenditures. Part of the proposal included arguments of:
Current general fund savings is under $350,000 of that 90 day target, which in sum is $2.3 million
Bolstering the reserves is smart considering the volatile economic environment
We want to make sure to pay our police officers, firefighters, and city workers even during a crisis
Only “one-time monies” would be put in to the savings, meaning it wouldn’t “impact any department or pain felt by citizenry” and that “the council has an outstanding track record to do that [spend one time monies]”
Mayor Fast said it was a great idea.
Councilmember Beck commented that he thought this was the original goal a while ago.
Councilmember Tuttle asked what is a realistic timeframe for expecting to reach the goal, which Melikian said he didn’t want to answer.
City Manager commented that the pandemic has “highlighted the need for a healthy reserve” and that we could be “one executive order away” from being hit very hard if tax money, such as on utilities, are stalled or cancelled.
Paul Melikian gave the mid-year city budget review and preparation for the next 6 months, which included several funding item requests.
In sum, the general fund budget is ahead of budget by $377,519. Staff calculated a 10% dip in sales tax, but actually there was an unexpected increase in revenue income from sales sax. While some income streams were hit, such as facility rentals and police service contracts for schools, other incomes, such as one time insurance credits and construction permits, made up for it.
City Manager addressed some complaints about paying for Measure B sales tax, which was recently approved by Reedley voters, saying that Reedley citizens don’t pay a utility user tax. She said this was more fair, because Measure B sales tax is paid by those who spend, while the utility user tax is paid by everyone (including those that are lower income).
Melikian said they were responding to every unemployment claim, using normal expenditures to pay for these reviews.
Melikian pointed out the gas tax revenue stream is a bit more volatile.
Regarding delinquencies, Melikian reported that only 2.46% of people are 90 days past their due date (which is shut off status). Councilmember Beck noted that while Reedley has $25,000 short on this revenue Dinuba has $278,000 short. City Manager summed this up, saying that Reedley is not being affected in the same way by covid compared to other cities in many sectors. She also curiously noted that some businesses that aren’t paying their water bill are still active and getting revenue, so she isn’t sure why they aren’t paying this bill.
Melikian outlined a funding item: audio-visual updates for the city council hall. At $11,000 for the audio interface system, he emphasized how “fool-proof and idiot-proof” it is in comparison to the 6 year old system they have now. He also outlined $9,000 for new cameras. City Manager questioned if the cameras were neded at all, if so how many, and which model? She then concluded that the proposed model is good, but the number of cameras is an item to talk about, considering there were only 3 people (myself included) watching the live stream. Councilmember Tuttle, after the presentation, emphasized that this world is heading into technology, and that perhaps for this meeting there were only 3 viewers for big agenda items there may be many more that want to access the meeting in a more convenient way.
Melikian outlined a request for $50,000 for rehabbing the Reedley Community Bandshell. He presented two pictures that showed the cracks in the walls and around the doors. There is a contingency in the proposal because of the wood rot they found in the building, and they aren’t sure how much damage is behind the rot. Councilmember Betancourt asked about the roof. Melikian highlighted that leakage is coming mostly from the walls, not roof.
Council member Tuttle highlighted that there is so much possibility in some areas regarding his Planning Commission meeting.
Council Member Soleno said that Reedley is ahead in putting their budget together for the Airport Commission, and that he thinks it would be a good idea to help out other cities if they need it.
Mayor Fast reported from her COG meeting that $900,000 is available in grants for housing planning, and that there are some they could apply for. The City Manager said that they are already aware of and preparing for those grants.
City Manager reported on covid cases staying down, churches re-opening but staying outdoors for singing, the slow vaccine rollout, Reedley College’s 20% enrollment decline but Emmanuel High School’s full attendance and waiting list. She outlined that the next few council member meetings will be light and may then include seminars or trainings.
Sarah Reed publicly thanked Sierra View Homes for their efforts and food donations.
The item that the council dedicated most of their time to was the mid-year budget review, which included several items requesting funding and a transfer of money to the city’s savings account. Essentially, the city did much better than expected in terms of revenue income, which perhaps exemplifies how Reedley overall seems to be doing better covid-wise and economically compared to expectations and other cities. However, considering the volatile environment, there was some sense of precaution among staff and councilmembers.
A highlight item of the budget was the purchase of 2 cameras, and while there was some hesitation on this purchase Councilmember Tuttle emphasized that technology is the future and it’s important to have the council meetings accessible.
Apart from the mid-year budget review, there were several applications that were approved to be sent, including funding for swim lessons and rehabbing Camacho Park.