- There was a presentation by Contra Costa County Fire Protection District regarding their efforts and things that homeowners can do to reduce the risk of fire. In addition to home maintenance and creating defensible spaces, the strong recommendation was for people to sign up for the Community Warning System at www.cwsalerts.com. This is useful in receiving information in the case of emergency, especially for folks who no longer have a landline. Additional information about what residents can do can be found at www.cccfpd.org.
- There was a presentation by Contra Costa Transportation Authority (CCTA) regarding a newly proposed Transportation Expenditure Plan (TEP) that calls for additional sales taxes. CCTA is asking for all local governments to approve the plan, after which the County will need to approve it. At that point, it would be placed on the ballot in March 2020. Sales tax increases requires voter approval with a 2/3 majority supporting. Because the benefit to the residents of Clayton was indirect, and some of the most impactful things that would hep Clayton residents may never come to pass, I did not feel the increase in taxes was justified. The Council ultimately voted to support the increase in sales taxes to fund the TEP. The vote was 4-1 with myself opposed.
- There was a request by Clayton Valley Charter High School asking the City of Clayton to support the renewal of the school's charter. The current term of the charter ends in 2020. There was discussion around the across the board academic success of the students of the school, and what a great asset to the community the school provides. Ultimately I was glad to vote in favor of supporting the charter renewal. The rest of the Council was also supportive of the charter in the community and the vote was unanimous.
- We also had closed session to discussion the City Manager Selection of Interview Candidates. I am not at liberty to discuss what occurs during closed session. I can say that the process continues to move forward.
Additional thoughts below:
Regarding the TEP:
In 2016, Measure X was a similar transportation sales tax proposal that did not ultimately pass. The residents of Clayton voted in favor 53%. This is down from the previous transportation tax Measure J in 2004 which the voters of Clayton were in favor 70%. Much of the funding for these measures benefit regional projects. Transportation is often a regional issue. But over time as taxes have continued to increase, it becomes more important for the use of those taxes to benefit our residents.
Some of the biggest transportation related problems faced by Clayton residents is commuting on Ygnacio Valley Rd. and Treat Blvd. Other cities like Walnut Creek purposely throttle traffic at certain intersections like at Oak Grove. The traffic lights there are designed to restrict the flow of traffic, ultimately creating bottlenecks for Clayton residents, among others. And while the TEP does talk about local roads and traffic light synchronization, there is no way to force cities like Walnut Creek to stop throttling our residents.
With nebulous direct benefits, and previous rejection of similar sales tax increases by Clayton residents, I could not support increasing the tax burden on our citizens.
Regarding Clayton Valley Charter High School:
I understand there have been concerns about financial matters and the Executive Director of the school spoke at length around changes they have made to increase transparency, strengthen internal controls, and restructure the oversight of the school all in an effort to ensure that the financial mismanagement and abuse that occurred previously could not happen again.
In addition to the regular independent financial audits that regularly take place, the school took it upon themselves to conduct detailed forensic audits to help guide them in making additional changes. All recommendations of the independent forensic audit, as well as the examinations conducted by the district have been implemented, or are in the process of being implemented.
I did have a chance to review the detailed audit documents, findings, recommendations, and responses to those recommendations. I found them to be thorough, and the actions being taken by the school to be in the right direction. The school has made great strides and I look forward to seeing it continue to be a valuable asset to the community.