- A discussion regarding potential hazard pay for people working within the city during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- There was also slated to be a hearing for the appeal of the Oak Creek Canyon Project denial (6 single family homes at the eastern part of the city), however due to remaining open questions staff is recommending we continue this item until the special meeting scheduled for June 29, 2021.
Friday, May 28, 2021
Wednesday, May 19, 2021
- The first was whether to award a consulting contract to assist in preparing an update to our Housing Element. Updating the Housing element is periodically required approximately every 8 years. The City is not staffed to handle this work on a regular basis so when required we engage outside parties to assist. As is normal with contracts of this size, we issued a Request for Proposal (RFP) inviting vendors to submit bids on the work. Our RFP estimated the cost of this work to be approximately $235K.
In response to the RFP, we received two responses from firms that had similar experience, approaches, and cost. Of the two firms, the City has already engaged with one of them regarding the consulting work on the downtown lot. It was for this reason that staff recommended selecting MIG for the newest contract.
But rather than just the $235K, we were informed that there could be additional work necessary related to Environmental Impact Review (EIR) which may cost up to an additional approximate $180K. The staff recommended authorizing this larger appropriation of funds. The determination of whether an EIR would be necessary would be made by MIG. In my view, this has the potential to create a moral hazard where the entity responsible for determining the need for additional work and compensation is made by the same entity performing the work and receiving the compensation. In addition, if the work was truly larger by greater than 75% of what was estimated in our RFP, then the RFP was flawed and should be redone as other vendors may bid on a substantively different project.
While I would be fine with authorizing the lower spend amount and then later evaluating the criteria by which a determination is made for additional spend, doing everything all at once may give the impression of self dealing. As a result, I voted no. I was in the minority and the Council awarded this contract and authorized the greater spend on a vote of 4-1.
- The second item we discussed was more of a procedural matter. We removed the council agenda order from our ordinances shifting to adopting these by resolution rather than in the municipal code. We updated the language to reflect current naming conventions and proper identification of entities.
The last thing was more substantive. Historically a representative from the Planning Commission (PC) would give a report to Council on their activities from previous meetings. Because it is common for matters that come before Council to first go before the PC, in order to avoid prejudging matters we discontinued the practice of having the PC report out to the Council. This was straightforward, however the discussion brought forward many other instances that are of a similar nature. The PC would also do a report out to the CBCA, where Councilmembers may be in attendance. Councilmembers are also known to attend PC meetings. In some instances Councilmembers may attempt to sway PC decision making. All are problematic and present risk to the City.
While we took action on the one part - PC reports to the Council, we did not do anything to address the other matters.
Friday, May 14, 2021
- Awarding a contract to a vendor to help facilitating the update of our Housing Element. Updating out Housing Element is required periodically and we typically engage consultants to assist us. Because this is work that only occurs every 8 years, and we don't have sufficient staff to do the work on a regular basis, consultants allow us to meet our compliance requirements. We issued and RFP and received two proposals. This item will discuss awarding the contract to one of those respondents.
- Discussion about updating our ordinance regarding the Order of Business for Council meetings. Currently the order of the agenda is within our city ordinances. There is a recommendation to strike this from our ordinances and merely adopt the order of business through resolution.
In addition, in order to avoid the appearance of or potential partiality in hearing matters that first came before the Planning Commission, there is a recommendation to eliminate the practice of the Planning Commission giving a report to the City Council.
Wednesday, May 5, 2021
Last night the Council discussed and took action on two significant items.
The first was regarding library services.
The Clayton library is staffed by a mix of County staff for certain library services, and a host of volunteers for other activities. Due to agreements between the City and the County, and the County's MOU with the union that the county library staff belong to, generally the volunteers at the library are not able to perform duties that would otherwise be performed by County staff.
Historically, Clayton received at no cost an amount of County supported library staff that allowed the library to be open 35 hours per week. The City separately engaged the county to expand that amount of time to 44 hours per week, or an additional 9 hours per week and paid approximately $13K/year for this. During various pandemic related closures, library hours were reduced and modified, but eventually was set at 40 hours per week.
Going forward and beginning in July 2021, the County has informed the City that the previous arrangement will not continue. In its place, the County has stated they will now provide at no cost to the City, an amount of County supported library staff that will allow the library to be open 40 hours per week. The schedule will differ from the previous schedule. We have the option to purchase additional hours, but at a closer to market rate rather than the subsidized rate we were previously paying. To increase the hours open by six to a total of 46 hours per week, the incremental cost to the city would be approximately $59K.
This represents a significant increase and one that our city cannot afford within our current budget. To cover this cost would require an increase in revenue (taxes, fees, etc.), a reduction in services, or some combination. The Council decided to accept the 40 hour allotment. If in the future the funds become available either through the city, or through significant donation, we could update our agreement with the County and fund additional hours.
The hours that would be available are as follows:
Monday, May 3, 2021
There are two significant items on the agenda for the next meeting:
- Discussion regarding whether the City should purchase additional hours for Clayton library.
Historically the City has paid for costs associated with owning and operating the library, and the County provided a base number of hours of library services which was 35 hours per week. In addition, the City has exercised its option to purchase additional hours through the County and has done so at a rate of nine hours per week bringing the total to 44 for an additional cost of $12,554 per year. The cost has been unchanged for approximately 10 years and we have been paying a lower rate than other cities in the County. This was also supplemented with volunteers which was coordinated via the Clayton Community Library Foundation.
We have been informed that the base hours will rise to 40 per week. Beginning with the next fiscal year (July-21), the purchase of additional hours will be required to be in set increments of either 6, 12, or 16 additional hours per week at a cost of $58,653, $99,686, or $187,875, respectively.
- Consider amending City ordinance in order to allow the outdoor cultivation of cannabis.
State law allows for cultivation of cannabis for recreational use up to six plants. Cities are allowed to regulate how such cultivation takes place and the city has chosen to prohibit outdoor cultivation. We will discuss whether this should be changed to allow for outdoor cultivation, or any other modification to the city ordinances regarding cannabis.