Isleton City Council: Finance, Water and Fire

C.A. Giacoma
Staff Writer
April 27, 2016

River News-Herald - Isleton

Board members, mayor and vice mayor, city manager, city clerk and citizens met last week for the April 2016 meeting of the Isleton City Council. The Isleton Planning Commission chairman also attended the meeting.

Dan Hinrichs began with the City Manager’s report, explaining that he is working with Sandra Rutledge, teaching her how to put together next year’s budget and that they have a first draft done.

City Hall has been advertising to hire an additional person for accounts, without success, however Melissa Gross has returned to work for the city and will take over accounts receivable for 10 hours per week and city clerk, Yvonne Zepeda, has increased her hours and this is working out very well. He went on to explain that when he retires later this year he wants Sandra and Romi Balbini to be able to “take care of things” such as separating and maintaining separate accounts within the City. Vice Mayor Jankovitz questioned whether the accounts were being separated and accounted for correctly. Hinrichs explained that the program they use, Quickbooks, doesn’t automatically file correctly but that they go back and make corrections. He also reiterated that he will be available to help Sandra out even after he leaves. A donation was received for work on the China Park, which went into the Parks and Recreation account and funds from the town yard sale are to go into a web account, per council member Samano.

The emergency services conversion to Sacramento County Dispatch is complete but the new tower is not quite done and there is more training needed so the change over from Solano Dispatch to Sacramento Dispatch will not happen until later this spring. Hinrichs stated that he is intent on resolving the fire department issue, noting that there is an ambulance available on each side of the river so there is no necessity for an additional paramedic so that is not an issue.

Mayor Bettencourt spoke passionately for consolidation of the 3 Fire Districts into one Fire District for the sake of protecting the citizens and communities within those districts, as a whole, on the limited funds that are available. He noted that the districts respond according to where a fire or event is located and that they all respond, explaining that this is how Sacramento County operates to insure coverage, “There’s no boundaries, we’re all in this together, it isn’t about egos – it’s about who can get there the quickest. Merging with Sacramento County benefits everyone, that’s how it worked for 70 years and now it needs to go back to that.”

The Mayor pointed out that the Sacramento County Supervisor for the district and the head of the Office of Emergency Services both committed to schedule another public meeting this month to continue the discussion and that this has not happened.

The city manager complained that the auditor has still not completed the 2014 report and that he does not know why, but that the 2015 audit is within a day of completion according to the auditor.

Next the discussion turned to the new ordinances. One of them, banning extended stay establishments due to the past management practices of this type of establishments leading to excessive calls for law enforcement intervention. One example given was the Del Rio Hotel, which has 8 rooms but has had 44 calls in the past year. Another new ordinance under discussion is limiting new construction to 2 stories, banning 3 story buildings because Isleton does not has sufficient water pressure available or a ladder truck to fight a fire in such a building. Cited as an example are the units constructed at the Village On The Delta development at the North end of town and the fact that these homes are extremely close together, exacerbating the risk. Council member Pene warned against limiting the existing development going forward because this development represents a positive asset to Isleton. Hinrichs continued with the issue of this development and the need for completion of it because this would provide much needed revenue to Isleton now that homes are in demand and the market is moving forward, noting that the ordinance limiting to 2 stories was recently introduced by the planning commission and has not passed yet.

Councilmember Pene also pointed out that to re-engineer the plans would be prohibitively expensive. It was further noted that they are based on a 20-year agreement with only 10 years elapsed and the current Board members are not those who originally negotiated the project. It was agreed by all that this is a complex and significant issue that needs to be studied and agendized for the next meeting to be discussed after everyone now on the Board has had a chance to review the original documents and study them in depth. Hinrichs added that this project has been delayed many times and that now he’d just like to see it completed and the remaining 18 houses built, sold and moved into. Council member Samano inquired, for the sake of clarity, what accounts the renewal of permits fees were deposited into, since contractor KLD took over the project.

The Isleton water pressure was addressed in the context of a report required and received from the engineer with Cal American Water regarding a project that is accessing Isleton’s water and is being built at Oxbow Marina. The report stated that the engineer found that his test confirmed that the system passed the minimum required by law. Mayor Bettencourt answered: “2500 gallons per minute? No way – our well here only pumps 500 gallons per minute at 32 pounds of pressure,” identifying the data contained in the report as erroneous. He explained further that these types of tests are typically performed either by the fire department local to them, or an independent firm that specializes in this type of testing. Bettencourt added that the city water tank contains only about 55,000 gallons and that the Isleton system is incapable of providing 2500 gallons per minute for 2 hours, as required by law, adding that that’s over 250,000 gallons. Additionally the tank does not have the required capacity to adequately pressure the system in addition to safely supplying Isleton’s water needs. It was also noted that Cal American has failed to provide data for the peak-flow period in Isleton.

Bettencourt questioned the legality of Cal American’s permits, in light of multiple deceptions on their part, recommending the city refer the issue to legal counsel.

Eve Perez, director of municipal development for the PACE financed HERO program gave a brief overview of the program. Ms Perez appeared in response to the request of a property owner on Georgiana Slough who is wanting to use the program and had her contractor, J.H. Simpson, contact Ms. Perez’ office. The program is enabled through assembly bill 811, which allows property owners to receive 100% financing at a low, fixed interest, for energy efficiency, water efficiency and renewable energy projects that is repaid through the property taxes. Projects can be financed up to 20 years which makes it affordable plus the project helps lower their energy bill and that savings helps off-set the cost of the project. Perez also explained that these projects help the community by providing job creation, lowering greenhouse gas emissions, reduction in water use while helping property owners save on their utility bills. There is no cost to the community and it is fully indemnified. 399 jurisdictions in California have adopted this program, which is almost 90% of the state. The program has funded approximately 120,000 projects, provided 1.33 billion in financing and created 11,324 jobs while saving property owners 2.3 billion on their utility bills, abated approximately 2.33 million tons of CO2 emissions and saved 3.45 billion gallons of water. The program comes with enhanced consumer protection because PACE vets the contractors, weeding out bad contractors. Contractors are not paid until the property owner signs off at the completion of the project. They also provide a dispute resolution team in the event of a problem between the property owner and the contractor. Additional protections are provided to seniors and non-English speaking property owners by providing a followup team. The council members agreed to study the information and address whether to participate or not at the next city council meeting.

A final resolution was executed to place a general transaction and use tax of 1/2 cent for general city services on the November 8, 2016 ballot.

Work on the gazebo has resumed and volunteers are needed to help with this project.

The next meeting of the Isleton city council will be held on May 18, 2016 at 6:30 p.m.

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