The regular city council meeting started this evening at 7:00pm.
Among the notable discussion items...
Wayne Oguera (sp?) was introduced as the senior code enforcement officer for Menifee. He walked up to the podium to talk about code enforcement. I had hoped he had more exciting things to talk about, like how many citations they issued, how much money they brought in for the city, and some code enforcement horror stories. But instead, he gave a speech on "Code Enforcement and You".
I zoned out during this time, but I picked up on a few of his quotes, like...
"One man's trash is another man's treasure"
"Not 100% of everyone is going to be happy with the outcome"
"I have some stuff sitting in my front yard that'll never get fixed"
Greg August, commented about Douglas Johnson, a consultant working for a company called "National Demographics Consulting", who was hired by the city on May 7, 2009 to work out details regarding districts, at large, and city governance structures. Greg asked the council why Johnson will be conducting public forums after the Blue Ribbon Committee already held a number of public forums, and how much time and money will the city spend conducting these additional forums. Greg also noted that Johnson had previously been quoted as saying districts is the better choice in the long run due to legal issues conflicting with the Voting Rights Act.
Anne Pica, said that she's been e-mailing city council members the past several days asking why hasn't city informed the public that they hired National Demographics Consulting back on May 7. The fact that Anne hasn't received an answer from a council member lead her to publicly claim the council members as not feeling accountable to anyone but themselves. Anne went on to say that council members should resign if they find it "repulsive" to communicate with the public. She also charged Darcy Kuenzi as misleading the public on Measure G during a speech she gave at a church women's club last January, where Kuenzi felt that she herself didn't understand all the facts about districts versus at-large, but yet published a document supporting at-large back in 2008.
Darci Castillejos, spoke on behalf of the Menifee Valley Chamber of Commerce, saying that they held a vote this morning, and agreed to support "at-large" elections of city councilmembers. She said the chamber of commerce is looking forward to working with the council on future issues.
Grant Yoders, spoke of some "uninhabited modules" located along along Rouse Rd, that have fallen into disrepair, and is seemingly falling into greater disrepair with each passing day. He said that he was walking through there and chased out a den of coyotes living in one of the modules. He wants to know what the city is going to do about it. City Manager George Wentz replied that they're already doing something about it, they've turned the property into a "secured area", and are strategizing about what they can do. City Planner Carmen Cave said that it's an active code enforcement case as we speak.
This is that storage facility located along Newport Rd, at the corner of Berea Rd, near Audie Murphy Ranch. The owner of this place plans to expand the facility by building another 107 units, over 2.29 acres.
The land he's building on is currently on Salt Creek. Back when he first built Champion Storage, he already had plans to build this additional section out, but the county had required him to make improvements to that portion of Salt Creek to implement flood control. He has since done that.
A couple of people commented against his plans, one arguing that Salt Creek becomes a floody mess during heavy rains, and doubts his improvements are sufficient. Another person questioned why the storage facility has only 8 parking spots.
City Finance Director, Gary Thompson presented the budget for 2009/2010. It's actually several pages of numbers.
But to sum it up, we're still running a positive balance, mostly due to a surplus gained in the previous year's budget. In fact, that positive balance grew by $1.6 million to a balance of $5.65 million because of increased revenue, and decreased expenditures.
The presentation showed that 35% of the revenue comes from property taxes, which perhaps explains why the council is pushing hard to bring more housing development into the city. It also showed that a staggering 70% of expenditures is spent on police and fire.
All in all, the total budget 09/10 is set at $21,804,157.00.
Darcy Kuenzi asked about Governor Schwarzenegger planning to seize property taxes from cities. Considering our city is so heavily dependent on property taxes, what will happen if we lose that revenue to the State? Thompson answered that the amount of taxes the State plans to seize from cities is based on each city's historical baseline. Well, since Menifee hasn't been a city for a full year yet, there is no historical baseline the State can use to determine how much to seize. Basically, Menifee won't lose any property taxes.
Tywman commented that by bringing services in house, Menifee has been able to cut costs and improve services.
Hiring of National Demographics Consultants
City Manager George Wentz asked to give a status report on the hiring of National Demographics Consultants. NDC was hired on May 7, 2009, to study the facts surrounding districts versus at-large city council elections, governance structures, and how to draw district lines. They'll even draw up district lines.
It sounds like NDC was hired to do exactly what the Blue Ribbon Committee was put together to do. They'll even be hosting several public forums, which the BRC already did.
Wentz said that he put an RFP out and two organizations responded, one of which was NDC. NDC was hired on May 7, which I believe is the same day the BRC released its preliminary recommendations. So, the RFP obviously went out well before then. Which brings up some questions from me, like just how far back did the council make up its mind on hiring a consultant, and if they felt it necessary to hire a consultant, why did it assemble a Blue Ribbon Committee?
NDC is being paid not more than $38,000 for its services. Wentz noted that the Blue Ribbon Committee consumed between $8,000 to $10,000.
The next city council meeting on June 16, NDC will send Douglas Johnson to attend and speak.
Anne Pica, commented during this time, saying that the way things are looking, the city council will put this issue back on the ballot, except they'll present three options to the voters, 1. at-large, 2, by district, and 3. from district. This will effectively split district supporters to the point where districts will fail. For example, if at-large wins 40% vote, by district wins 30%, and from districts wins 30%, then at-large wins, despite some 60% combined voters supporting districts in general.
Council Member Comments
Scott Mann dropped a couple of "budget nuggets" to the audience, reiterating that the city grew its positive cash on hand by $1.6 million from last year to this year, based on higher revenues and lower expenditures. The other nugget is that back when Gary Thompson submitted the cityhood fiscal analysis to LAFCO, it noted a 24% "reserve factor", which instead turned out to be at 26%.
I think we ought to give Scott a feature on Menifee 24/7 where he can lay down more budget nuggets on a regular basis.
The regular city council meeting started this evening at 7:00pm.