Here’s what you need to know:
- The Council voted to approve and renew the Urgency Ordinance, which temporarily bans new smoke shops from opening in Reedley
- The Council voted to approve the position of Assistant Water System Supervisor
- The Council failed to approve the budget to repaint the two water towers, motion tabled for next Council meeting
Reedley City Council Board Members
- Mary L. Fast, Mayor
- Robert Beck, Mayor Pro Tem
- Ray Soleno, Councilmember
- Anita Bentacourt, Councilmember
- Matthew Tuttle, Councilmember
The Reedley City Council meeting was called to order at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, March 22, 2022 by Mayor Mary Fast. The meeting consisted of four of the five council members. Those present included Mayor Mary Fast, and Councilmembers Matthew Tuttle, Anita Bentacourt and Ray Soleno. Councilmember Robert Beck was not present. Other City staff present included City Manager Nicole Zieba, Community Services Director Sarah Reid, City Engineer Marilu Morales, Assistant City Manager Paul Melikian, Public Works Director Russ Robertson and City Clerk Ruthie Greenwood. Due to the mask mandate for indoor public spaces and workplaces being lifted, the Council members did not wear masks.
There was no public comment.
The Council unanimously approved all seven items on the consent calendar as presented.
- Approval of Minutes of the Regular Council Meeting of March 8, 2022
- Consider and Adopt Resolution No. 2022-019 Revising the Fund Balance Policy for City Enterprise Funds
- Adopt Resolution No. 2022-020 Awarding a Construction Contract to Mac General Engineering Inc. for the Manning Avenue Sidewalks Project from Frankwood Avenue to Reed Avenue
- Adopt Resolution No. 2022-023 Amending the 2021-22 Adopted Budget Appropriating $44,886 in the Prop 68 Bond Fund for the Balance Owed for the Geoplex Net Climber installed at Trimble Park
- Adopt Resolution No. 2022-024 Amending the 2021-22 Adopted Budget Appropriating $97,202 in Development Impact Fee Water Funds to Pay for Developer Reimbursements
- Adopt Resolution No. 2022-025 of the City Council of the City of Reedley Adopting the Annual City Statement of Investment Policy
- Adopt Resolution No. 2022-026 Accepting the 2021 Annual Progress Report for the Reedley General Plan and Housing Element and Directing the Community Development Department to Submit Said Report to the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research and the California Department of Housing and Community Development
- Public Hearing Regarding Proposed Amendments to Certain Department Fees and Charges for Services in the Citywide Master Fee Schedule
Assistant City Manager Melikian said “Staff conducts an annual review of all fees contained in the City Master Fee Schedule to ensure that services are equitably priced and costs are appropriately recovered. The attached Master Fee Schedule is categorized by the individual Departments in charge of assessing and collecting the fees.”
Proposed Fee Revisions:
- Fire Department Fees: Most fees under the purview of the Fire Department are proposed to be increased based on the current fully burdened (salary+ benefits) hourly rate of the Battalion Chief, who conducts most of the inspections. The fees for Commercial Fire Sprinkler System inspections have not been adjusted in over 10 years. The time required to review items under the Plan Check section were also reviewed, and time required to review them has changed as well.
- Veterans Banner Program: As presented during the mid-year budget review in February 2022, due to inflation and rising costs of shipping, the City will need to charge $250.00 per veterans banner (for new banners) for the program to roughly cover its own costs. Staff is also recommending establishing a $40.00 annual rehanging fee to recover costs incurred as a result of rehanging and removing the banner to return it to the applicant.
- Community Services Programs: For the majority of the fees under the purview of the Community Services Department (CSD), staff are recommending incremental increases that closely track the annual percentage change in the Consumer Price Index and/or the $1.00 per hour minimum wage increase effective January 1, 2022. Most recreation staff have pay rates that are close to the minimum wage; therefore, the increases directly affect the cost to offer the program. By implementing incremental increases, the City can continue to recruit and retain quality staff, and maintain the supporting equipment and facilities the programs utilize.
- Municipal Airport: Most fees at the airport are proposed to be increased by approximately 4%, following the annual change in the Consumer Price Index. This increase affects the fees for tie downs and City-operated aircraft hangars.
- Building Re-lnspection Fee: Building Division staff spend significant periods of time conducting on site re-inspections to ensure the work completed by the contractor is in compliance with the California Building Code. Staff propose to add a reinspection fee, common to other cities , of $95.00 to cover the staff time associated with scheduling, inspection and follow up activity. The City already has a fee for “Additional Inspections”, established in 2013; however, it is only applicable to electrical permits and no longer covers the cost of staff time.
- Electrical Outlet Permits: Staff propose to revise the permit fees for electrical outlets (switches & receptacles) to more accurately account for the inspector’s time. The existing fee for electrical permits up to 20 outlets will now cover up to 50 outlets, and increase from $33.00 to $40.00. Permits for more than 20 outlets will now cover from 51- 199 outlets, and increase from $49.00 to $80.00. For larger projects , defined as having 200+ outlets, a new flat fee of $160.00 would be established.
- Addendum Plan Check: This fee is for the review of revised plans after a plan set has been approved due to field conditions or after the fact changes by property owners or developers. A review of this nature typically takes 3+ hours of staff time depending on the nature of the revision . Items of this nature are rare and staff will address as many changes as possible during the initial submittal of improvement plans to minimize the use of this item. Staff propose to increase this fee from $120.00 to $250.00, which has not been adjusted since 2012.
- Police Fees: Staff propose to eliminate nine separate fees that are no longer charged by the Police Department. There is no impact to services already provided to the public as a result of the deletions. There is also one fee, for 911/Dispatch Recordings, where staff propose to remove the staff time limitation as it is no longer relevant; however, the existing fee amount will remain unchanged. In addition, existing Police Service Fees are being updated to current fully burdened hourly pay rates for community events requiring additional police presence, and the cost to provide copies of citations has increased from $11 .00 to $15.00. Lastly, vehicle impound fees are proposed to be increased by $25.00 and $75.00, depending upon the vehicle code violation, respectively, based on the current cost of staff time to administer the impounds. These particular fees have not been amended since 2012.
- Solid Waste Fees: Effective July 1, 2021 , all solid waste collections and operations were privatized under a Franchise Agreement with Mid Valley Disposal, LLC. All fees associated with the former City enterprise can now be removed from the Master Fee Table as they are now maintained in the Franchise Agreement. Current rates are fixed for the first two years of operation, through June 30, 2023. A copy of solid waste rates will continue to be posted to the website and on file at the utility billing counter for the public.
- Water Service Call-Outs: The existing fee for service call-outs outside of normal business hours is proposed to be increased from $102.50 to $123.00 to cover the average cost of staff time associated with the call out. This fee is only charged to the customer when water is requested to be turned on outside of normal business hours or when a leak is determined to be on the customer side of the meter.
Mayor Mary Fast said “This does not require action tonight, action will be taken at a future Council meeting in April.”
- Public Hearing and Consider Adopting Ordinance No. 2022-002, Granting an Extension and Renewal of an Urgency Ordinance of the City Council of the City of Reedley, California Temporarily Placing a Moratorium of the Establishment of any New Smoke Shops/Tobacco Stores within the City
City Manager Nicole Zieba said “In 2021, the City Council of Reedley requested that staff begin to research land use restrictions and licensing requirements related to smoke shops/tobacco stores, in response to the data presented to the City Council during a public presentation by Unidos Por Salud and the Health Collaborative about the increase in youth tobacco use and vaping. Unidos Por Salud and Health Collaborative specifically requested that the City Council consider the proximity of smoke shops to schools, parks, and health facilities. The first renewal of the Urgency Ordinance may be for up to ten months and fifteen, the remainder of one year after the first 45-day period has passed. The second renewal may be for up to one year.
During public comment, one resident said “We should allow as many smoke shops as we have alcohol shops. I don’t know why we are stopping businesses from trying to thrive in our town. We are losing income because we are not allowing small businesses to open in Lemoore in the meantime.” Another resident said “I thought Reedley already had restrictions on public smoking. If people are not allowed to smoke at parks then we already accounted for public health concerns with public smoking.” A resident through Zoom commented in the chat and said “I believe three smoke shops are plenty for Lemoore. No more smoke shops.” City Manager Nicole Zieba responded with “I do appreciate your input. The CDC has also reported the negative effects with smoke shops being in close proximity to sensitive areas such as schools. Until the Zoning codes are modified, we do not want smoke shops to relocate near a school so the moratorium temporarily stops new ones from coming to Lemoore.” With no further discussion, the Council voted unanimously to approve the extension of the Urgency Ordinance.
- Adopt Resolution No. 2022-021 Establishing a Revised Salary & Benefit Schedule for Unrepresented Employees to include the New Position of Assistant Water System Supervisor
- Adopt Resolution No. 2022-022 Approving the Revised Master Salary Table to Include the New Position of Assistant Water Division System Supervisor as Part of the Water Division Succession Plan
Public Works Director Russ Robertson said “Maintaining a roster of certified and tenured operators in the Water Division is critical to the health, safety and operational efficiency of the water system, which all Reedley residents and business owners depend on. Over the course of the last two years, the Water Division has been unable to fill vacant upper-level positions due to difficulties in attracting qualified personnel that possess the required State certifications. Unfortunately, this issue is common to public utilities in California. Currently, lower-level staff do not possess the required certifications, and thus are not positioned to promote to the higher-level positions resulting in prolonged vacancies for the Water Systems Specialist II and Senior Water Systems Specialist positions. The vacancies in these positions have created a void in the natural progression of staff and the overall division succession plan. In addition, the Water System Supervisor has notified the City that he will retire in the next two years, which could leave the division deficient of senior level staff.”
“After reviewing available options, staff have identified a unique opportunity to recruit for the advanced skill set necessary to ensure: 1) a smooth transition of the leadership in the division and; 2) provide sufficient time for the current supervisor to share his detailed institutional knowledge of the City’s water system. This opportunity would be derived from establishing an Assistant Water System Supervisor position that will provide staff the flexibility to recruit from the existing pool of upper-level water staff from other municipalities. It is the intent of staff that the position will transition upon the retirement of the Water Systems Supervisor and not be backfilled.”
City Manager Nicole Zieba stated “We have backup plans, as we have learned and implemented during the start of the pandemic. We can bring water consultants, which is a short-term but expensive band aid.” Councilmember Ray Soleno asked “So this is a temporary position? And are we confident we can fill this position?” Public Works Director Russ Robertson said “We feel good that we can offer a carrot to a potential employee and provide them benefits that would be enticing. This might be someone who has reached a ceiling in their position and might not feel like there is room for further growth or promotion.” During public comment, a resident said “Sacramento has the best water quality in the state and I would like for their expertise. With no further discussion, the Council voted to approve the revised salary and benefit schedule and approve the revised master table to include the new position of Assistant Water Division System Supervisor.
- Award a Painting Contract in the Amount of $541,286 to WM. B Saleh Company for Complete Paint Removal and Repainting the Two Iconic Downtown Water Towers and Authorize City Manager or Designee to Execute all Related Documents
- Adopt Resolution No. 2022-018 Amending the Fiscal Year 2021-2022 Adopted Budget to Appropriate an Additional $371,414 in Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds Under the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 for Repainting the Two Downtown Water Towers
Public Works Director Russ Robertson said “The Downtown Water towers were originally constructed in 1913 and 1923. Over the course of the last several years staff has noticed that the paint coating is chipping off of the tanks and there are growing concerns of rust and corrosion on the tower’s exterior. It is unknown the last time the towers were painted but staff believes that the current paint is well over 40 years old. On July 7, 2021, a thorough inspection of the downtown water towers was performed by the Utility Service Company. The interior and exterior surfaces of the tank were inspected to assess the condition of the coating system as well as structural integrity, safety conditions, and sanitary conditions of the tanks. The result of the inspection was that the paint coating on the water towers is in very poor condition and the towers need to be repainted. For the past six months staff has been contacting numerous paint companies throughout California to gather proposals from contractors to perform the recoating project. Initially, four contractors were interested in the project, however when the scope of the project expanded and it was determined that the chipping and recoating work would have to be done by hand and sandblasting would not be allowed, only one contractor submitted a proposal and the others declined. The lone proposal received is for the amount of $541,286. Due to the intensified scope of work, including environmental remediation required by the State, the lone proposal exceeds the initial appropriation of $250,000.”
Councilmember Anita Bentacourt asked “What can we use the funds for?” City Manager Nicole Zieba said “We can use the funds to cover the costs of this project.” Councilmember Ray Soleno said “I would like to move forward with it getting a facelift, just upgrade it. I would even like to see another option, perhaps the world fruit basket like our logo. I don’t think taking them down is an option. We have been doing a lot of roads with grant money, it would be hard to turn something like away. We can be proactive and fix the towers.” Mayor Mary Fast said “The funds will not come out of our General Budget. I have been on the Council for 19 years and I have never seen this kind of money.”
During public comment, one resident said “I was going to complain about how we need to address the roads near schools and we still need to fix it, but after hearing that there is lead paint falling off the side of the tower, I think this is a great use of the funds.” Another resident said “I love the towers, I actually want to cry thinking about them being taken down. I was born and raised in Reedley and I moved to Sacramento for five years. They have an initiative where artists work on projects like painting murals, maybe we can do something like that here.” A third resident commented with “The towers are Reedley. The river is Reedley, the palm trees are Reedley. People love this town, let’s work on the towers.” City Manager Nicole Zieba said “I want to clarify on the phrase lead paint and water towers. The water in the tower is part of the public water systems that have to go through rigorous testing and we do have good water. This bid only lasts for 30 more days before it expires. We initially had four bidders but then after seeing the requirements, we only had 1 left. My concern with waiting it out is that the price might go up. I want to be transparent and realistic that we might not find a contractor that specializes in mural painting of giant silos like this since we did have a hard time even finding contractors.” The Council motioned to vote and approve the motion, however it failed to pass twice with two ayes and two noes. Councilmember Ray Soleno made a motion to bring this agenda item at the next Council meeting.
- Councilmember Ray Soleno: “Next weekend is the Health and Fitness Expo and to my knowledge this has never been done before from Fresno to Lemoore. There is a free 2 mile walk and run open to anyone.”
- Councilmember Anita Betancourt: No report.
- Councilmember Matthew Tuttle: No report.
- Mayor Mary Fast: “I attended the senior lunch around the world and the month was for Ireland. I appreciate the work the group does for the seniors.”
- City Manager Nicole Zieba: “The Public Health Department is no longer going to have a call every week to discuss covid health matters. They urged us to not let our guards down as new variants can pop up but they felt comfortable in moving the calls to once a month. We also saw the issue about the scammers near ATMs, so please be careful.”
The Council went to closed session at 8:27 pm
With no further discussion, Mayor Mary Fast adjourned the City Council meeting at 9:39 p.m.