Thursday, April 20, 2023

My 4.18.23 Meeting Summary

At our meeting on Tuesday we discussed and took action on several significant items:

- We approved an employment agreement with our new full time City Manager, Bret Prebula. Bret comes to us with a a wealth of relevant experience summarized below:

Bret has a Master’s Degree in Business Administration and started his career in government 15 years ago as a Department Analyst with the County of Napa. Advancing quickly in his career, Bret next served as the Administrative Manager for the County of Napa Department of Corrections, handling a $20M budget and overseeing large Countywide Corrections capital projects.  Bret moved on to become a Principal Management Analyst in the Napa County Executive Office, as the budget and large development project lead developing the Country’s $250M General Fund budget and overseeing a large Airport Redevelopment effort. Bret transitioned to becoming the Assistant Treasurer-Tax Collector managing a $700M investment portfolio before moving on to become the Finance and IT Director for the City of Napa.  Bret then moved to the City of Benicia as the Finance Director, revamping a failed ERP Project, creating and enhancing a variety of fiscal, and budget polices to improve the sustainable future of the City. Bret was then promoted to Assistant City Manager taking an even larger leadership role with the City of Benicia.

This concludes a hiring exercise that has occurred over the last several months and is critical in the efficient operations of the City and I look forward to his leadership as we move the City forward. 

- We received a report on efforts to curb speeding in the city, and an update about our overall enforcement strategy.  The City will be designating a dedicated traffic officer in an effort to increase enforcement over excessive speed.   As the volume of vehicular traffic increases post pandemic, excessive speed has become a growing challenge within the City.

Back in 2020, the City conducted a traffic survey as required by law to determine the average speed of vehicles at certain locations within the city.  We discussed the results at our 8.18.20 meeting (  The results of that survey indicated that we would need to increase posted speed limits in order for them to be enforceable.  Because increasing the speed limits was untenable, the Council at that time decided to not accept the speed survey because once posted limits are raised, they typically are never decreased.  

It turns out that was a very fortunate decision.  New law effective in 2023 changes the requirements for enforcing posted speed limits.  As long as we have a valid traffic survey that supported the posted limits, even if a new survey would indicate a higher speed limit was required, we are allowed to preserve the status quo speed limits in perpetuity.  This means that the posted speed limits in the City do not need to be increased, and once we take some administrative steps in our municipal code, the posted limits will be able to be enforced which should assist our overall strategy to reduce excessive speed in town.

- We approved appropriating ARPA reserves for a few key items, and asked staff to come back when they are ready with more robust project plans related to other things that have been requested.  What we directed staff to pursue were the following:  Tattle tale traffic lights (they help police identify when someone runs a red light), security cameras and secure access controls for City Hall and the Police Department building, a flat bed trailer to help move equipment within the city, and a Ditch Witch vacuum trailer that will change the way our maintenance crews repair irrigation breaks and clear clogged drains allowing them to be more efficient.

- We also discussed whether we would continue or expand the Clayton Cares program that provided direct assistance during COVID to businesses and individuals. While I sympathize with businesses that are currently struggling, the City is not in a position that it could continue to prop up businesses at this time.  COVID restrictions have been set aside or curtailed for a significant amount of time and one time direct assistance will not change the market dynamics that some businesses may be experiencing.  As I've been discussing over the last several years, the City faces financial headwinds that need to be addressed and our efforts will need to be focused on ensuring the continuing operations of the City that support all residents.