Monday, May 16, 2022
Wednesday, May 4, 2022
In July 2021, I wrote in detail regarding the financial position that the city was in. I did this in hopes that we would spur conversation and discussion at the city. Only through discussion could we hope to find solutions that would be sustainable, that we would be able to tap in to the approximate 80% of people that would be concerned should they actually learn about the financial challenges the city faces.
But it wasn’t until late September 2021 that we actually discussed this issue again, and even then it was only to say that we were interested in having that discussion, and that we needed to outline overall timing if any solution were to include increased taxes. The next time we would talk about this would be in February 2022. Rather than use the nearly 8 months of time since I raised the issue to discuss potential solutions and engage in outreach with our residents - the most obvious thing the survey is actually recommending - the city took no meaningful action to address the financial challenges it faces.
And when the issue was discussed more widely, the figures being used were inflated to make the situation appear more dire than they actually are. The bulk of the deficits projected were for discretionary items. It is certain there are challenges, just not necessarily to the degree as portrayed like was done in the recent Pioneer. Do we need to find a way to fund our streetlights? Yes. Do we need to bring on additional employees and the associated cost of their pensions? Maybe not.
It wasn't only outreach that was missing in the run up to the survey being conducted. Consider that during our goal setting session in Mar-22, the first thing discussed was the goal of a potential tax. Shouldn't the goal be to address the structural budget shortfalls rather than jump straight to a tax? Myopically focusing on a tax neglects the potential to reduce spending, or to increase revenue via other sources. We should be addressing the city's excessive use of consultants, the utilization of reserves for discretionary items, potential reductions in expense and additional sources of revenue other than a parcel tax. Unfortunately none of these things were done and we've squandered time that we could have been doing outreach, and squandered money for consultants to conduct a survey that gave us predictable results.
All of those things that should have been done already will have to be done now given the budget for the next fiscal year must be finalized shortly. There has been some talk about using reserves to cover shortfalls. Like raising taxes, spending down our savings to cover our day to day operations should be a last resort and I would hope that approach would not be suggested as the first option.
Sunday, May 1, 2022
Wednesday, April 20, 2022
Monday, April 18, 2022
- An ordinance adopting a military equipment use policy. We are required to have such a policy prior to requesting, seeking funding, acquiring, or deploying or using military equipment. This would include things like less lethal launchers (beanbag or sponge rounds), command trailers, and select fire center action rifles.
- We will discuss how the city handles the Concerts in the Grove and associated financial arrangements.
Wednesday, April 6, 2022
- We adopted a treatment for our ARPA funds that requires less onerous reporting with no restrictions on the use of funds. With the new guidance, any ARPA funds under a certain threshold (which we qualify for) would be allowed to treat the funds received as wholly revenue replacement. This means that effectively the entirety of the $2.9M the city received functions as unrestricted reserves. Consistent with past action, we will be segregating these dollars in a separate fund for tracking purposes.
- The Council adopted a resolution opposing an upcoming ballot initiative. The initiative purports to expand the definition of a "tax", require voter approval for state taxes, changes the approval requirements for local taxes to align with state taxes, and requires that allowable uses and duration of state and local taxes to be specified. There wasn't much discussion around this item. While it does seem like a poor general practice to tinker with the state and local budgets through constitutional amendment, in CA it seems like that ship has sailed. In reading the staff report, I couldn't help but think it wasn't presenting objective information. The Legislative Analyst Office summary is here: https://lao.ca.gov/BallotAnalysis/Initiative/2021-042. I voted no not necessarily because I support this initiative, I'll reserve judgment for now, but more because I'm not sure the city needs to take a position on this. The vote was 4-1.
Monday, April 4, 2022
- We will discuss adopting a treatment for our ARPA funds that requires less onerous reporting with no restrictions on the use of funds. Initially when the Treasury distributed ARPA funds, there was guidance that suggested we'd need to report on our uses and how they met the eligible use criteria. That criteria only allowed spending for a limited set of categories. With the new guidance, any ARPA funds under a certain threshold (which we qualify for) would be allowed to treat the funds received as wholly revenue replacement. We need to make an election to designate our funds this way.
- We will discuss adopting a resolution opposing California statewide ballot initiative 21-0042A1 sponsored by the California Business Roundtable. The Legislative Analyst Office summary is here: https://lao.ca.gov/BallotAnalysis/Initiative/2021-042 This initiative would expand the definition of a "tax", require voter approval for state taxes, changes the approval requirements for local taxes to align with state taxes, and requires that allowable uses and duration of state and local taxes to be specified. Staff and Cal Cities is recommending opposing this ballot initiative.
Wednesday, March 23, 2022
Wednesday, March 16, 2022
Monday, March 14, 2022
- We will be discussing the Accounting Action Plan to address the prior year audit findings
- We will be receiving a presentation regarding ClearGov budgeting software
- We will be discussing the mid year budget presentation
- Discuss the Accounting Action Plan to address the prior year audit findings
- Discuss the ClearGov budgeting software and whether to appropriate funds to purchase and implement
- Discuss the mid year budget review and authorize the establishment of a separate fund to track these monies
- Adopt resolution to engage a new City Engineer
- Discuss an update on the CEMEX Land Use Permit Revision Application pertaining to the Clayton Quarry Reclamation Plan
Wednesday, March 2, 2022
Monday, February 28, 2022
Tuesday, February 15, 2022
Monday, February 14, 2022
- We will receive the audited financial statements for the fiscal year ended June 30, 2021. There are a number concerning items within the financials that will be discussed.
- We will discuss appropriating $30K to engage a consulting firm to perform research related to a potential tax measure for the November 2022 ballot.
Wednesday, February 2, 2022
We have enjoyed a healthy reserve balance for quite some time. But with operating expenditures increasing approximately 4% each year, and revenues only increasing 1.4%, it's an unsustainable pattern that needs to be addressed.
Monday, January 31, 2022
- Discussion whether to send a letter to the BART Board of Directors regarding upcoming redistricting. There is a proposal that BART is considering to move Clayton to the eastern Contra Costa County district, rather than the current central district. If Clayton is moved, then our representative would be from District 2, (brown section) vs. District 3 (blue section)
- We will be discussing the ten year general fund forecast. Current projections show deficit general fund spending starting next fiscal year.
- We will also be discussing revenue options and potential next steps to address the projected deficits in the prior item.
Wednesday, January 19, 2022
- We updated the city's purchasing policy to increase the threshold for when Council approval is necessary. In the last two years we have updated the purchasing policy to allow us to utilize competitive bids conducted by other public agencies which reduced the administrative burden for similar services being sought, and adopted new rules related to public works projects further reducing administrative burden while retaining competitive bidding when appropriate. With tonight's action, we increased the discretionary spending authority of the city manager from $20K to $60K, for everything except professional services.
- The $20K limit has not been increased since 2004. The original intent of this threshold was to facilitate smooth operations of the city and not require Council approval for routine matters that would typically be approved via consent calendar anyways. With rising costs over time, the $20K limit would sometimes be a barrier to that purpose. Originally the proposal was to include all spend, however I questioned the need to include professional services which is typically consultant spend. While the city does not often engage consultants, we have several times in the last few years. In some cases, as with the group assisting us in preparing the housing element, or the group assisting in preparing the ARPA funds spending plan, this seemed entirely appropriate. In others, I thought it warranted more discussion. I suggested we limit the spending authority for professional services to $30K. This would allow regular operations, while also ensuring larger engagements come to the Council for approval.
- We approved one time premium pay for the City's essential workers in the amount of $10K each for full time employees. Our police and city staff have worked diligently throughout the changing circumstances of the pandemic. Our police especially has always been public facing. As the ARPA dollars we received are federally funded, use it or lose it, and premium pay falls within eligible uses, I am grateful that we had this opportunity to recognize the work that our city staff does, and hope that this premium pay helps mitigate or offset some of the impacts that the pandemic has had on our police and city staff.
- We expanded the eligibility criteria for the Clayton Cares program. With updated guidance from the U.S. Treasury, we determined we could expand the scope of those eligible. Originally businesses in Clayton could apply for forgivable loans up to $5K. We increased that amount to $10K (those that already applied do not need to take action). We also increased the amount households were eligible for, from $1,500, to $10,000. The income threshold for households was also increased in hopes of capturing more homes in the eligibility pool. We also extended the deadlines to apply for these amounts - through 1.31.22 for businesses, and 2.28.22 for households. If you, your business, or a non profit think you may be eligible, please apply here: https://claytonca.gov/claytoncares/
- We also updated both the City Manager compensation package as a result of the annual review, and updated the city salary schedule accordingly.
Tuesday, January 18, 2022
- Discussion of an updated purchasing policy adjusting some administrative items and increasing the approval authority of the City Manager from $20K to $60K.
- Discussion of premium pay for essential workers in the city consistent with the discussion we had at our last meeting.
- Considering whether to update the Clayton Cares program to expand eligibility for ARPA funds for local businesses and residents.
- Updating the employment agreement with the City Manager reflecting a pay increase
- Updating the City's salary schedule.
Wednesday, January 5, 2022
- Goal I. Maintain and enhance long-established housing and neighborhoods in Clayton while accommodating moderate growth.
- Goal II. Encourage a variety of housing types, densities, and affordability levels to meet the diverse needs of the community, including a mix of ownership and rental units.
- Goal III. Meet the housing needs of extremely low-, very low-, low-, and moderate-income households and increase opportunities for renters and first-time homebuyers.
- Goal IV. Remove governmental constraints and obstacles to the production of housing for all income groups.
- Goal V. Ensure equal housing opportunities for all persons in Clayton regardless of age, race, religion, sex, marital status, national origin, color, disability, or other barriers that prevent choice in housing.
- Goal VI. Encourage and improve energy efficiency in new and existing housing.
- Goal VII. Promote and participate in the resolution of housing, employment, and transportation issues on a regional basis in cooperation with all Contra Costa County jurisdictions.