Documenter: Heather Halsey Martinez

Here’s what you need to know

  • The council approved a $294.6 million 2020-2021 annual budget with $247 million in operating costs and $48 million in capital expenditures. Notable expenditures include cyber security initiatives, adding 10 staff members to the police department, replacing 31 police vehicles, updating city-wide camera infrastructure, new fire station financing, six new firefighter positions and replacing  a fire engine.  

  • For nearly two hours, the council was updated on the city’s sewer infrastructure 20-year plans.  Whalen expressed concerns that current residents would be paying for growth of the city rather than new development paying for growth, which he said has been past practice. 

  • City Manager Luke Serpa said the city offices would follow the state’s updated COVID-19 protocols and not require masks for those who are vaccinated. He said council meetings could return to full capacity, but would remain available to participate virtually via WebEx. 

The Scene

The Clovis City Council meeting took place on June 14, 2021 at 6:02 p.m. The meeting was made available via Webex and YouTube Live. The agenda no longer states that face masks are required for those who attend in person due to COVID-19 and none of the council members wore face masks.

Names of officials:

Jose Flores, Mayor (also Chief of Police, State Center Community College District Police Department)

Lynne Ashbeck, Mayor Pro Tem (also Senior Vice President Community Engagement and Population Wellness, Valley Children’s Healthcare)

Vong Mouanoutoua, Council Member (also External Relations and Project Development Director, Community Medical Foundation)

Bob Whalen, Council Member (also Fresno County Deputy District Attorney)

Drew Bessinger, Council Member (also Chief of Police, Fresno Yosemite International Airport)

The meeting opened with Flores asking for a moment of silence for the late Judith Barkman, a former Clovis planning commissioner. Bessinger then led the council in the Pledge of Allegiance.

From there, the meeting was open for public comments, but no one spoke in the chambers or online. 


  • Approved minutes from June 7 meeting. 

  • Approved a $294.6 million 2020-2021 annual budget with $247 million in operating costs and $48 million in capital expenditures. 

    • City Manager Luke Serpa said the budget, “generally restores the cuts we made last year and it does not include the ARP funds.”

    • The American Rescue Plan (ARP) funds were not included because the guidelines for use of the funds were not available when the budget was prepared.

    • Department heads presented information for each of their respective departments.

    • Funds will be spent on a new online utility billing system, cyber security initiatives, restore five police officer positions, two dispatchers, a crime specialist, add two new positions, replacing 31 police vehicles, update city-wide camera infrastructure, new fire station financing, six new firefighter positions, replacing fire engine and self-contained breathing apparatus. 

    • Information Technology Officer Jesse Velez noted that if the city were to come under a cyber attack, they would not pay a ransom. 

      • To which, Whalen said, “That’s what is going to stop these people from engaging in this bad behavior and from what I know with our council, we’re going to be firm in that position.”

    • Residents will see a 3% water rate increase, 4% recycling increase and 3% solid waste increase. 

    • Whalen asked Public Utilities Director Scott Redelfs about recent water main breaks. Redelfs said the city experienced its third break in six months on Shepherd where water mains were installed by a contractor. He said it could be due to a variety of factors including soil conditions and pipe conditions. 

      • “Our percentage of water main breaks is extremely low,” Redelfs said. 

    • There were no public comments on the budget. 

  • The council was updated on the city’s sewer infrastructure 20-year plans by City Engineer Mike Harrison. 

    • Serpa said that the purpose of the workshop was to open dialogue with the council about some challenges the city faces in the next 20 years in building the sewer system and funding it using the current revenue streams. 

    • The council was asked for policy direction on who would get paid back first, whether it should remain as paying the oldest debts first.

    • Whalen expressed concerns about one of the proposed strategies for paying for future sewer facilities of increasing rates 3% annually.

      • “It seems like we’re pivoting to where users are paying for development,” he said. “And our rule has been for decades now, is that development pays its own way.”

    • Derk Purcell of Clovis made a public comment and said he appreciated the idea that there are other options and that technology changes.

    • David Horn of Yamabe & Horn Engineering said they have analyzed the master plan and they already don’t have the needed infrastructure. 

    • Mike Prandini, president of the California Building Industry Association of Fresno/Madera, said they concurred with staff on the reimbursement priority and said if they went another route they would have to go through the lengthy process of redoing the master plan. 

In closing, Serpa gave an update on COVID-19 cases and vaccinations in the state and local area:

  • Serpa said 839,589 doses have been administered in Fresno County to date. 42.5% of county residents have received at least one dose, 34.4% of county residents are fully vaccinated, whereas the state is at 55.1%.

  • “The pandemic is rapidly going toward zero,” Serpa said.

  • He noted new OSHA rules for council meetings could allow the vaccinated to not wear masks and allow full capacity. He said they expected to continue allowing for virtual participation via WebEx. 

Flores then opened the meeting for council comments. After more than four hours, most laughed. Ashbeck did note that she will be out of town for the July 12 meeting. 

The meeting adjourned at 10:20 p.m. Future meetings are scheduled for June 21 and July 6, 12, and 19. 

If you believe anything in these notes is inaccurate, please email us at with “Correction Request” in the subject line.

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