Menifee City Council Meeting - Sep 10, 2008

This evening's city council meeting was a long one. A lot of Power Point presentations being made. Here's my report... PARSAC T...

This evening's city council meeting was a long one. A lot of Power Point presentations being made. Here's my report...


The Public Agency Risk Sharing Authority of California (PARSAC) gave a presentation on its services. They're a "Joint Powers Authority", which is a fancy way of saying "Insurance Company". Though, technically they are not a company, and they are not for-profit. But they provide liability coverage. So, if you want to sue the city for twisting your ankle on a curb, PARSAC pays the money.

All of PARSAC's "members" are other cities. They went on to say that when a city joins PARSAC, it's becomes a long term "partner". That's another way of saying that PARSAC wants to tell a city what it should do and shouldn't do so as to limit the number of claims.

And because joining PARSAC is a long term committment, it ties up a lot of the city's money into PARSAC. Hence, city council members discussed other options of obtaining liability coverage, including the State Fund, other JPAs, and even establishing a self-funded system. No decision has been made yet.

Riverside County Sheriff's Presentation

Commander Jim Mcilvane of the Perris Substation gave a presentation of their proposed service to Menifee. It was a long presentation, so to make a long story short, here's the big stuff...

  • Total cost $7,267,714 for 2008-2009. However, he's suggesting a higher price of $7,464,415 which includes a couple of "Community Service Officers". These CSOs are sworn officers that handle all the petty stuff so that armed deputies can spend more time doing the big stuff.

  • Suggesting 29 sworn deputies to patrol all of Menifee, as well as 4 investigators, and 2 "CSA Deputies", which will be dedicated to Quail Valley. There's also about another 11 support staff and commanders.

  • 31 patrol cars, and 4 unmarked cars
He went on to talk about what the Sheriff has done already for Menifee Valley. Apparently, crime in Menifee Valley is down about 27% since the beginning of this year, and that's based on their new "zone policing" system. This has the valley divided up into four zones, and each zone is further broken down into "beats". Each beat is staffed by an officer dedicated to that beat, so that he/she knows the people in that area, and thereby knows that area pretty intimately.

He also stated the Department's average response time to calls. Stage 1 calls (which are life threatening calls), have an average response time of 7.7 minutes. Stage 2 (emergency calls but not life threatening), 11.5 minutes. Stage 3 calls ( non-emergency calls), 15.7 minutes. He said that strictly within Menifee Valley, the Stage 1 and Stage 2 calls had slightly faster response times. However, the Stage 3 calls were 32 minutes. He didn't say what constitutes a "response". But I sense that for Stage 3, it includes someone returning your call to take down the particulars, considering it's not an emergency.

Councilman John Denver specifically asked Mcilvane if this proposed service would now have deputies writing traffic tickets in Sun City. He explained that it's been "common knowledge" that deputies right now never write traffic tickets in Sun City. Mcilvane said that they would indeed write traffic tickets in Sun City. He went on to explain that under the current service, the Sheriff defers all traffic patrols to the CHP. But now that we're a city, the CHP would largely restrict their patrols to the I-215. Councilman Twyman asked Mcilvane if us incorporating as a city is actually going to save the CHP some money. Mcilvane was rather perplexed by the question. I think it was meant as humor, but it seemed to go over like a lead balloon, or Mcilvane is just too intense of a guy.

Nothing was said about the MSJC Police. I suspect they'll still continue their patrols all over the Menifee Valley, instead of sticking to the campus.

Inauguration Ceremony

City Council reiterated inauguration ceremonies, which consists of the formal ceremony taking place at Bell Mountain Middle School, starting at 5:30pm. And then at 7:00pm, the scene shifts to a party at Menifee Lakes Country Club.

Council member Kuenzi explained that while many people were denied their RSVP requests for the party, all that has been fixed. You can now RSVP. However, you better do it REALLY quick. She said the capacity at the Country Club cannot hold more than a couple hundred people. Get all the RSVP details here.

Note: the formal ceremony at Bell Mountain Middle School does not require an RSVP.

Mieke Tankink posted an article on Menifee Live asking why such a small venue was chosen for such a historic event. I can't argue with her on that one. Though, sacrifices would had to have been made to reduce the expenses. While much of the stuff is being donated, not everything is being donated for the event. Perhaps council members can comment on why a venue like La Ladera Park, which is used for the Movies in the Park, was not chosen instead.

Kuenzi also mentioned the first annual Mayor's Ball to be held at Wheatfield Park on October 4. I know that invitations went out, but I don't know how many were sent, or to whom. It's a black tie affair. But I imagine it's the same deal, where the facility can only handle so many people. But in this case, the Ball is organized by the Rotary Club, and is not an official city event.

Public Comments

Bill Zeidlik - Complained about a couple of radio towers proposed to be built in Menifee Valley, including one not too far from where he lives. I actually wrote about this last June (click here). These are to provide better communication lines for emergency services, like the Sheriff, and Fire, and ambulance. They're not cell-phone towers as was talked about in the meeting. The towers slated for Menifee are not that tall either. Zeidlik's complaint largely centered on the lack of environmental studies, and the rather short public comment period. But if you click the link above, you'll find plenty of environmental studies that I linked to, and note that public commenting started last June.

Robert Shorb - complained about the posted speed limits in Sun City, particularly around Valley Blvd and Cherry Hills Blvd. Sounds like the backyard of his property sits on Valley Blvd. He invited council members to have breakfast with him in his backyard patio just to hear the roar of vehicles. I think the speed limit there is fine, it's just not being enforced.

Purchase of Supplies

City Manager George Wentz asked the council to consider formal spending policies on buying office supplies. Right now, there are no policies. He's suggesting that for items costing up to $2,500 the department managers have free reign to make all the purchases they want. Items from $2,500 to $10,000 needs to be signed off by him. And then from $10,000 to $50,000 he wants to put out public bids. Councilman Mann cited State regulation, or law, that the upper limit on supply spending protocols is $72,400, and asked Wentz why he decided to stop at $50,000. Wentz said that he didn't think we'd ever need to spend more than $50,000 on any single office supply.

Investment Policies

The council opened up discussion on establising a policy on how to invest all the money our city is going to have. George Wentz said that it would be prudent for the city to have a strategy in place on what funds to invest in, how much to invest, and how much to diversify its portfolio. Maybe I just don't understand all this correctly, but it sounds like the city plans to have a lot of surplus money laying around, and rather than return it to the taxpayers, or use it to make road improvements, it's going to earn interest off of it instead.

But councilman Mann expressed concern that however we plan to invest our money that it be made easily liquid in case we really need it for something important. Mayor Edgerton chimed in and talked about his former employer, Merril Lynch, and how they bankrupted the County of Orange by having too much money locked up.

Councilwoman Kuenzi made a motion to create an ad hoc investment committee. Edgerton seconded. Kuenzi went on to name Mann as a member of that committee. Edgerton, citing his background as a financial planner, named himself as another member.

Budgeting Process

Gary Thompson, who's working for our City Manager as a financial consultant, gave a presentation on the city's new budget. He only talked about the structure of the budget, and didn't give out any numbers. The proposed budget will be unveiled to the public on September 17. It'll cover a 9 month period running from October 1 to June 30. The full year budget will then adopted beginning July 1.

He said that we won't really know what our sales tax receipts will be January 2009, mostly because it takes a long time for the State to transfer sales tax money to localities. Interestingly, he said that while the Kay Ceniceros Center will remain County property, the City of Menifee will have to pay for the employees who work in there.

City Planning

Civic Solutions, a city planning firm in San Juan Capistrano, was here to give a presentation on city planning. They had three guys talking about everything you ever wanted to know about city planning but had no interest in asking. It wasn't a presentation on their services, but more like college course compressed into 30 minutes. It was pretty boring stuff, but it sounds like those guys make a pretty good living from it. I got the sense that they were really here to earn potential business.

In fact, councilwoman Kuenzi instructed the City Manager to send out an RFP to hire a city planner. The City Manager replied back that terms of cityhood incorporation requires Menifee to adopt the plan the County had created for our community. Once it is adopted, we can change it however we'd like.

Councilman Twyman commented to the City Manager that he needs someone from the County sit down with the council and explain in detail the plan they had created for Menifee. He noted at the County Transition Meeting that Supervisor Stone said they would be providing this explanation to us. Kuenzi responded to Twyman that the existing plan is already on the County's website. However, Edgerton replied to Kuenzi that while the plan might be on the Internet, he's sure that much of the details are not. Tywman went on to say that he can't vote to adopt the County's plan until he understands what it is. But I don't think he has a choice. We're required to adopt it as it exists, whether we understand it or not. But I agree with Twyman and Edgerton that the Devil is in the details, and you can't get that without having the County explain it to us.

While adopting the County plan may sound like a simple formality, consider that a lot of planning has taken place with developers, and that the Board of Supervisors have made a practice of changing local zoning to satisfy their requests. Blindly adopting the county plan could be like Sleeping Beauty taking a bite from a seemingly innocent apple. Either way, we're still required to adopt the County plan.

Next Meeting

Even though the city council talked about doing these meetings every other week, it