Last night there were several significant items discussed:
- We heard a great presentation by Con-Fire Chief Terence Carey about their efforts to address and mitigate fire risk, overall fire risk and activity in the state, and things that residents can do to help address overall fire risk. The one thing that was stressed as an easy takeaway for everyone is to make sure that there are working smoke detectors in each residence, and that they are tested on a regular cadence. Chief Carey also talked about a Preparedness & Evacuation reference guide that is on the Contra Costa County Fire Protection District website. The guide can be found here: https://www.cccfpd.org/ResidentsWildlandFireGuide
- The Council approved an appropriation of approximately $40K to upgrade equipment related to network connectivity, audio, and video as it relates to holding meetings in Hoyer Hall. The funds used for these upgrades are from grants received to support public access to government and will not impact our general fund. The work is scheduled to be complete towards the end of this year. Included in the scope is equipment necessary to hold hybrid meetings whereby people will be able to participate both in person and remotely.
We agreed that due to ongoing recommendations from the County Health Officer, Dr. Farnitano, there is continued elevated risk of meeting indoors and as such, the Council agreed that meetings will continue virtually until such time that the state and county emergency orders are lifted.
- The Council also agreed to appoint Management Partners as a consultant group to help develop and implement a program to use American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds. Clayton is slated to receive approximately $2.9M and the Council is seeking to prioritize businesses in town that have been impacted by COVID-19. There are a number of requirements associated with these funds including limits on how the funds can be used, procedures for their use, and reporting and audit requirements. Management Partners will assist in all of these areas, though the execution and operationalizing of the plans that are prepared will fall on city staff.
There may be opportunities for additional community support through volunteering to help support various aspects of the ARPA plan. Those potential actives will be fleshed out further as Management Partners progresses with their work.
- The Council also discussed the process for placing a tax measure on the ballot. General tax increases can only be placed on the ballot on a General Election, with the next general election scheduled on November 8, 2022. I have discussed previously the financial landscape the city is in, and some of the causes of our shortfalls and the impacts if we do nothing. We do have structural problems that if they are not addressed, will begin to have significant impacts on city operations in the near term. The good news is that as a small city, the gap we are trying to fill is not so large that we cannot address it.
The Council agreed to direct staff to do the preliminary work towards a ballot measure for the November 2022 date. This would include an outline of overall timing, the various steps necessary and when they would be due, etc. Getting ballot language right and the various administrative requirements take a significant amount of time to work through. On top of that, outreach, communicating the need, the cost, and the benefits, will take a coordinated effort. After staff comes back with the overall outline, we will then discuss at a future meeting how to execute on that plan.