Documenter: Heather Halsey Martinez

Here’s what you need to know:

  • The Clovis City Council approved adding three police officer positions on the same night it reviewed the department’s 15-year expenditures and moved forward with creating a citizens advisory committee to evaluate police officer staffing and funding. The council members will provide staff with committee nominations who could be appointed at the meeting on Jan. 10, 2022. 

  • The council members approved ten items on the consent calendar, including an EIR and annexation of 218 acres for a proposed 590-lot Wilson Homes subdivision in the Heritage Grove Master Planned area. 

  • They also were presented with an annual comprehensive financial report for the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2021. According to the report, the reserve has been rebuilt from 5.5% of expenditures in 2007-08 to 19.0% of the 2021-22 general fund budgeted expenditures. 

The Scene

The Clovis City Council meeting took place on Dec. 6, 2021 at 6:00 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)

Ashbeck led the council in the Pledge of Allegiance. 

From there, the meeting was open for public comments:

  • CenterStage Theater Treasurer Don Watnick was in council chambers to encourage the council and city staff to see “Merry Christmas George Bailey,” at the CenterStage Clovis Community Theater.  Luke Serpa said he attended the show and enjoyed it.

  • Representatives from United Health Centers of the San Joaquin Valley were in council chambers and invited the council members to a grand opening event of their new location at 313 W. Shaw Ave. on Wednesday. He said it is their second health center located in Clovis. They will offer primary care, dental and chiropractic care, as well as free transportation for patients. 


  • Approved a rezone of .34 acres from community commercial zone district to public facilities for the fire station at 2300 Minnewawa Ave. 

  • Approved adopting a code amendment relating to street sweeping service and a rate increase of $0.50 per month as approved at the Nov. 15 meeting. 

  • Approved the purchase of 20 mobile data computers for $103,666 from Zones, Inc. 

  • Approved a San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District grant application for the emergency vehicle replacement program in the amount of $272,400, amending the budget for the purchase of a fire vehicle in the amount of $848,900 and waived the city’s bidding requirements for the purchase of the fire engine and equipment from Golden State Fire Apparatus. 

  • Approved amending the 2021-2022 budget for the Fire Department for a public safety dispatch software for $92,161. 

  • Approved amendments to the Records Supervisor Classification in the police department. 

  • Approved final acceptance of Wilson Homes tract map 6114 in the southwest area of Ashlan and Leonard Avenues. 

  • Approved final acceptance of Bonadelle Neighborhoods tract map 6120 at the northeast area of Leonard and Barstow Avenues. 

  • Approved moving forward with an EIR and related services for the annexation of approximately 218 acres located south of East Behymer Avenue, between the Enterprise Canal and N. Sunnyside Avenues for a Wilson Homes 590-lot subdivision. 

    • To meet requirements of the Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCo) standards, the project will require the annexation of a greater area of approximately 218 acres of property.

    • In addition to the annexation, the project is associated with a general plan amendment, prezone, planned residential permit, and vesting tentative tract map. The proposed project will require the preparation of an Environmental Impact Report (EIR).

    • The project area is located within the city’s Sphere of Influence and Heritage Grove Master Planned area

  • Approved award of a three-year contract for solid waste large container services to Industrial Waste and Salvage (IWS). 

  • Approved the annexation of property at Gettysburg and Highland Avenues. 

    • Finance Director Jay Schengel presented the item. 

    • Noone spoke in protest. 

    • Received one ballot with unanimous votes to approve. 

  • Approved the annexation of property at Willow and Nees Avenues. 

    • Whalen recused himself because he’s “removed himself from everything at that Willow and Nees area.” 

    • On Oct. 18, 2021, the council heard a request from property owners on Willow and Nees Avenues. 

    • One ballot was received representing five votes that were all in favor. 

At 6:24 p.m. the council took a break for the lighting of the Christmas tree at the Clovis Civic Center. They returned at 6:54 p.m.

  • Approved final amendments to the 2020-21 budget in conformance with the budget ordinance and received and filed the year end report for all funds as of June 30, 2021. 

    • Schengel presented the item. 

      • General fund unallocated fund balance is $1.3 million, $7.4 million lower than projected during the budget process. 

      • He said ARPA funds are coming in unknown or “stronger than expected.” 

      • He said the expenditures by department “really isn’t much to talk about” and that there were “no surprises.” 

      • The city has struggled to make a lot of “headway” in the general fund emergency reserve balance but it is increasing. 

      • He asked for a budget amendment for the fire department and city clerk unanticipated election costs. 

    • Whalen said he’s never seen the general fund emergency reserve balance at more than 20% as they are now. But he did say they are trying to get to 25%. He asked what they would be giving up if they were able to hit 25% in the next budget. 

      • Schengel said they would have to find the funding. He said they are getting $7.56 million in ARPA funding next year. 

    • Whalen asked about Landmark Square debt financing and asked if the funds would be coming through the general fund.    

      • Schengel said they would come from general services for construction. 

    • Mouanoutoua asked if he could explain the employee benefit costs. 

      • Schengel said they always come in a little more or a little bit less. 

      • Mouanoutoua asked about the COVID leave costs. Schengel said they received that funding and credited it back to the appropriate departments where COVID leave was taken. 

  • Approved the 2020-21 Annual Comprehensive Financial Report. 

    • According to the report:

      • The reserve has been rebuilt from 5.5% of expenditures in 2007/08 to 19.0% of the 2021/22 general fund budgeted expenditures. 

      • Unrestricted net position represents those resources which may be used to meet the city’s ongoing commitments to citizens and creditors.

      • Government-wide unrestricted net position is $76 million, or 9% of the total net position, which is a 39% increase from the previous year. 

      • Public safety, which includes police and fire, accounts for $63 million or 64% of the total governmental activities/ expenses. Public safety expenses increased $3 million or 5% from 2020 primarily due to increases in salary and benefit costs and the increased costs of services, materials and supplies. 

      • The City’s government-wide total assets and deferred outflows of resources exceeded liabilities and deferred inflows of resources (net position) at the close of the fiscal year by $886 million, which is 4% more than 2020.

      • The City has enjoyed higher than average retail sales when compared to other cities and the state, and significantly better occupancy at hotels than both forecasted and experienced elsewhere. In addition, one hotel was completed and one more is under construction. This will more than double the room count in the City in the next few years.

      • The City’s capital assets for its governmental and business-type activities as of June 30, 2021, amount to $910 million (net of depreciation/amortization), an increase of $18 million over 2020. During the year the City made improvements to various streets and received developer donated infrastructure. Donated assets include developer donated land as well as the improvements on the land including streets, curbs and gutters, sidewalks, street lighting and landscaping. Included in the total amount of capital grants and contributions on the government-wide statement of activities is $17,665,570 of developer donated assets.

      • The Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA) awarded a Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting to the City of Clovis for its Comprehensive Annual Financial Report for the fiscal year ended June 30, 2020. 

    • Whalen asked about page 110 when he looks at public safety over the last 10 years and some discrepancies he sees in page 113. 

    • Whalen asked Police Chief Curt Fleming about page 131 that shows a 23% decrease in arrests. 

      • Fleming said he doesn’t think it’s a good way to measure the work they do, but that it has a lot to do with Prop. 47 and 57 and certain things being decriminalized. 

      • Mouanoutoua also commented that he thought it could have something to do with schools being closed. 

      • Bessinger said he would agree that it’s due to Prop. 57 and certain things being decriminalized. 

      • Flores asked Schengel what they were basing the arrest numbers on and was concerned they could be based on the wrong statistics. 

        • Schengel said he couldn’t answer that tonight. Fleming said he would provide a report that explains exactly what the numbers are. 

      • Flores said it could show that “we are a safer city” over the years. 

    • A representative from the city’s auditors, The Pun Group, was on the phone and spoke about the review process. 

      • Mouanoutoua asked him if they could meet with them in a “closed session” next year. 

      • Whalen said that was fine if he wanted that to happen, but he doesn’t know if it can be in a closed session. 

      • The representative said they can meet, but the board cannot dictate what they review. 

  • Approved amending the city’s 2021-2022 position allocation plan by adding three police officer recruit/lateral positions within the police department. 

    • City Manager Luke Serpa presented the item. 

    • He said last year they froze the police department vacancies. 

    • They would like it to be effective soon so that they can “staff back up.”

    • Whalen asked about the number of officers. Serpa confirmed that they have 75 officers currently and this would move them to 78 officers. 

  • Approved a three-year contract renewal for legal services from City Attorney Scott Cross of Lozano Smith. 

    • The hourly rate will increase from $210/hour to $220 in 2022, $230 in 2021 and $235 in 2024. 

    • The firm requested that there no longer be a flat fee for council meetings, which is currently $650, but rather charge hourly fees. 

    • Whalen asked at what point would it make sense for them to have their own city attorney. But he said that Serpa had explained why already in saying that they don’t just work with a single attorney at Lozano Smith, they have access to many experts. 

      • Serpa said that was correct and they don’t have to contract out for specialists. “It really works out well for us,” he said. 

    • Mouanoutoua asked if rates for specialists would be different. 

      • Cross said they would be separate contracts with different attorneys. 

    • Flores said he thought it was working well and “I like it.” 

    • Mouanoutoua said he likes changing from the flat fee for a meeting and they laughed and made jokes about shortening the meetings. 

  • Approved moving forward with the development of a 25-member citizens advisory committee to evaluate the police department’s funding, operations and staffing levels. Also, received and filed an update on expenditures and staffing within the police department over the past 15 years. 

    • Assistant City Manager John Holt presented the item. 

    • Draft calendar shows two meetings per month on the second and fourth Wednesdays from Jan. to April 2022. 

      • In May 2022 the committee reports back to council on results of analysis and recommendations. 

      • Aug. 8, 2022 would be the deadline for placing a tax measure on the ballot. 

    • Asked for clarifying consensus on the following: 

      • The consensus of council participation on the committee:

        • Whalen said he thinks there was concern by Ashbeck. He said he would like to see what’s happening in the committee based on his experience in the past with consultants that charged a lot of money. 

        • Cross said they would be open to the public per the Brown Act and council members could attend and provide comments, just as any member of the public. 

        • Ashbeck said that her preference would be that they don’t attend because “when an elected official is in the room, people defer.” “I think we just need to be super committed to letting the people direct,” she said. 

          • She said that she thinks having a “crystal clear purpose” and a neutral person directing the conversations. 

        • Whalen said his focus would be to review the expenditures over the past 15 years and Ashbeck may be focused on considering what it is going to take to stay the “safest city in the Valley.” 

      • Also, if committee members would be required to live/work/own property in the city. 

        • Bessinger said he thinks it’s important they live within the Clovis city limits. 

        • Ashbeck clarified that they could be a renter. 

        • Whalen said if they own property in Clovis, they should be able to serve on the committee regardless of if they live here because they will be paying the taxes if an increase is proposed. He said he is only appointing people that live in Clovis. 

        • Mouanoutoua said, “I don’t want those technicalities to derail the purpose of the committee.” 

        • Ashbeck said live, work or own property is fine. 

      • And having members of the general public involved in the process, outside of the selected committee members.

      • Discussed options for facilitating, such as hiring an independent outside facilitator, selecting a chair/vice chair, directing staff to facilitate or use someone from Lozano Smith. 

        • Holt said they couldn’t find any outside facilitators. Serpa said there aren’t many local and their wage isn’t less than Lozano Smith, plus they would pay travel time. 

        • Bessinger said using someone from Lozano Smith is the “most logical” choice because they will be able to do some “public education” and guide the conversation more effectively than staff or a member of the public. 

        • Whalen said he thought staff should facilitate, but that Bessinger was probably right about staff having too much on their plates. 

          • Holt clarified that three to four staff members would be there. 

          • Whalen said that in that case, a city staff member can facilitate the meeting with a chair and vice chair elected from the committee. 

        • Ashbeck said she thinks a chair and vice chair from the committee and a staff person as the facilitator with support from Lozano Smith, if needed.  

        • Mouanoutoua said Dwight Kroll and Brian Araki would be good because “they handle people really well.” 

        • Holt said that selecting a staff member could put them in an “awkward position with their peers.” 

        • Ashbeck said that she thinks the facilitator’s role is to manage the process, not the input or steer the conversation. 

        • Member of the public, Don Watnick, commented that his “blood pressure is rising.” He said they are trying to appoint an independent committee to advise them and they should allow them to be “independent.” 

          • He said 25 people will know each other very quickly and can choose two people to lead the group.

          • “If you want truly independent advice, let it be independent and do not bring in a facilitator,” he said. “You need staff there to answer questions.” 

          • He said that he’s been on committees with staff or facilitators and they are “looking for an outcome.” 

          • Bessinger asked him if he thought that 25 people was too big. 

            • He said that he thinks 25 is too big and he would keep it to 15 with three appointees each. 

        • Bessinger asked if they have considered using Facebook live or something else. 

          • Holt said they don’t have the space in the council chambers for the committee of that size, but had discussed having it at the Senior Center. 

            • He said they have reached out to CMAC to broadcast them live, but they would be lacking members of the public to participate virtually. 

        • Flores asked if 25 was too big. 

          • Ashbeck said the Measure C Committee is 24 and they are averaging 14 people, so she doesn’t think all 25 will show. 

          • Whalen said he already expressed concern about it being too big, but now “the horse is already out of the barn.”

        • Cross said that someone from Lozano Smith would have to be at every meeting to observe and consult. 

        • After lengthy discussion, the council decided that the committee would be led by a chair and vice chair appointed by Mayor Flores. 

    • Holt presented a 15-year analysis of staffing and funding:

      • Expenditures increased from $20.6 million to $38 million-4.6% average annual increase. 

      • He shared charts showing the annual figures and one showing the population increase compared to the police staffing levels. 

      • Whalen said the “less biased” numbers would be the last ten years, rather than 15 years due to the recession in 2008 and aftermath. 

        • Whalen clarified that what they know is that there has been a budget increase of 70 or 80% over the last ten years with a 20% population increase, so why hasn’t the police department been able to hire enough police officers. 

        • Flores said he thought 15 years was better because it shows the history. “What happened to public safety didn’t happen out of nowhere,” he said. 

      • Serpa asked Schengel where the information was from. He said it was from page 35 of the ACFR.

      • Mouanoutoua said he’s looking at page 110 of the ACFR and the numbers aren’t the same. 

    • “If we can increase our fund for 10 years by 70 or 80 percent and we still aren’t adding patrol officers, then that’s not a revenue problem, that is a spending problem,” Whalen said. “So before we have people getting worked up about increasing taxes in the City of Clovis, let’s figure out why it is that the money has not been used to hire more patrol officers. Where has it gone?”

      • “If the question is what kind of city do you want and how much do you want to pay for it, we are jumping to the conclusion that we aren’t safe and that we need to pay more money to get there…when we have already been throwing a lot of money that way,” Whalen said. 

    • Mouanoutoua said he thinks they need to “be careful up here” because for them to assert that it is a spending problem, “it can be biased.” 

      • Whalen said he thinks saying what kind of city do you want to live in and how much do you want to pay for it is also biased. 

    • Flores said that they approved the problems that the police department is facing. 

      • He thinks the question should be are they spending the money where they want it to be spent. 

    • In closing, Holt said he would like to receive the committee names from the council as soon as possible. 

    • Mouanoutoua asked if they could ensure that they move forward with the committee without any input. 

    • Canceling the Dec. 20 and Jan. 3 meetings, meaning the committee wouldn’t be appointed until Jan. 10. 

    • Fleming said the “data is the data” and they went with 15 years because that is what he presented originally based on the study and the last time it was done. 

      • “The money going toward salaries has not increased,” he said. “But if you shorten that to 10 years, it’s not accurate to what is really going on.”

      • “We have six less employees than we did 15 years ago,” he said. “The population is growing and the department is shrinking.” 

      • Whalen said, “It baffles my mind that in the last 10 years we have increased the budget by 70 or 80%…and we don’t have a significant increase of patrol officers.” “But I think it’s going to be a question of how the money you’re being given by the City of Clovis is being spent.” 

      • Fleming said he didn’t choose that data based on the numbers, it was based on when the studies were done. 

      • He said cameras and technologies that have been approved have allowed them to maximize the “thin, very lean force that we’re operating with.” 

      • Fleming said the officers are tired and starting to get injured. 

      • Whalen said they “can’t print money like the federal government does.” 

      • Mouanoutoua said they hope they don’t just choose what fits their parameters. 

      • Bessinger said, “I think we could be our own worst enemy on this.” 

      • Mouanoutoua said that he hears Whalen saying “show me” and that he just wants to see where the money is going. 

    • Clovis Police Officers’ Association President Jordan Hunter was in council chambers. He said it is incredibly difficult on the streets right now and they are seeing an increase in injuries. 

      • He asked that they “don’t steer the committee one way or the other.” 

      • Mouanoutoua asked if he thought police officers should be involved in the committee. Hunter said he would encourage them to come out and see what they do on a daily basis. 

      • “We’re at a point where we need more boots on the ground,” he said. 

      • Bessinger said it would be helpful to have officers going to make public comments, as well as citizens who feel like they are already spending enough.

Flores opened the meeting for comments by City Manager Luke Serpa. Serpa gave an update on COVID cases and shared a chart showing trends. He said the Omicron variant is being discovered more, but that “no deaths have been attributed to Omicron.” Serpa said he is hoping “Omicron is the beginning of the end.” 

Mouanoutoua asked him when he foresees lifting the emergency order, to which Serpa said their order is in place as long as the state’s order is in place, but the council could vote to lift it. 

Flores then opened the meeting for council comments:

  • Whalen said he enjoyed the Children’s Christmas Electric Parade that took place the Saturday prior.

  •  Mouanoutoua commended staff for participating in the Clovis Unified Southeast Asian event. He also thanked Senior Services for putting together the senior Thanksgiving event. 

    • He said that he and Flores attended a Mayweather Boxing + Fitness grand opening. 

    • He also asked about citizens who asked about putting up a plaque in memory of “the dancing doctor.” 

  • Bessinger said the redistricting map still takes them on a “meandering course” including north Bakersfield and Oildale. “It’s just a very strange way of doing business and we’re going to be with petrochemical, industrial farms, mountains and cities.” “I don’t think it serves any of us particularly well,” he said. 

    • “It gives Fresno three congressional seats, which could be a good thing, but it seems a little disjointed,” he said. 

    • “If people are concerned they need to continue sending emails to

  • Ashbeck said she was replaced on a state Mental Health Services Oversight and Accountability Commission with someone from Napa, so now there is no one on the commission from the Valley. 

  • Flores said the legacy that the dancing doctor left is incredible. “He brought joy,” he said. 

    • He also said that the Mayweather gym chose Clovis because of how the city responded during the pandemic and didn’t close down. He said the owner is Wiggins, a former Fresno State athlete. 

The council went into closed session at 9:58 p.m. to conference with legal counsel on existing National Prescription Opiate Litigation and anticipated “significant exposure to litigation.” Serpa said there may be something to report back from the opiate litigation. 

Serpa said they may have something to report back from the opiate litigation, but the live stream and Webex ended. 

The next meeting will be Dec. 13 and the council discussed canceling the meetings on Dec. 20 and Jan. 3, 2022.

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

Support our nonprofit journalism.


Your contribution is appreciated.