Wednesday, December 20, 2023

My 12.19.23 Meeting Summary

Last night the Council met to discuss several significant items:

- First the Oakhurst Geological Hazard Abatement District (GHAD) Board met to select a new Chair and Vice Chair.  Board Member Cloven was chosen to be the Chair, and I was chosen to be the Vice Chair.  We then discussed an update to the Plan of Control for the District.  The Plan of Control categorizes geologic hazards and identifies the plan regarding how the District is to prevent, mitigate, and abate these hazards.

The GHAD funding level is insufficient to perform virtually all of the activities specified in the Plan of Control.  In addition, the existing plan is somewhat outdated in that it was created in the early 1990s and does not contemplate replacement of infrastructure.  The GHAD General Manager recommended that we update the Plan of Control prior to preparing a ballot proposal to increase the GHAD assessments for those residences within the District.

The order of operations go something like this:
  1. Update Plan of Control
  2. Request approval of additional assessments to support Plan of Control activities.
If residents approve #2, then there would be no further action needed.  If #2 is rejected, then the Plan of Control would need to be severely curtailed and basically all non-administrative functions of the GHAD would cease.  At that point the Board would likely consider terminating the GHAD all together.

The District General Manager will return early in 2024 and bring forward the updated Plan of Control for approval, and updates on the plan to request additional funding from the residents.

- Next at the regular Council meeting, we held a Public Hearing to update certain City ordinances necessary to implement provisions of the updated Housing Element as required by State law.  This has been a very long process going through multiple iterations in front of the Council, the Planning Commission, and with City staff working with California Housing and Community Development (HCD).  The updates were approved 4-0 (Councilmember Cloven was absent).

While there are several areas where I dislike State law regarding housing, the City is still required to comply with the law and by approving these updates to the Housing Element the City is seeking to do so.  We are still pending approval from HCD.

- We then discussed the Audited Annual Comprehensive Financial Report (ACFR).  It was noted that for the fiscal year ended June 30, 2023 the City's General Fund reflected a deficit of approximately $183K.  Through discussion we determined that some context to that figure was missing - specifically the fact that included within the $183K deficit, was spending of over $190K for certain one time purchases was made during the year and these amounts were specifically designated to come out of various ear marked funds.  The General Fund deficit would be extinguished completely had we excluding these one time spending amounts.

- We then discussed the damage to the Cardinet trail from the Jan 2023 storms, and what actions the City has available to it.  Our City Engineer requested an additional appropriate in order to begin design and engineering work necessary to repair the damaged trail sections.  The City has been in discussion with FEMA as well as other State agencies and while the City would need to front the cost of repairs, we would seek reimbursement for around 96% of the costs associated with repairs.   The Council authorized $50K to be spent toward this effort in order to qualify for the reimbursement process.  There will be more information to come in the next few months about how this work will proceed.

- We appointed myself and Vice Mayor Trupiano to the City Sponsored Special Events Committee. 

- We updated Council assignments for various standing and ad hoc committees.

Tuesday, December 19, 2023

Upcoming Council Meeting 12.19.23

Tonight the Council will discuss several significant items:

- The GHAD Board will meet first at 6pm to select a new Chair and Vice Chair.  Then the GHAD Board will discuss proposed updates to the GHAD Plan of Control.  The Plan of Control is the document that controls among other things, the activities that the GHAD undertakes.  Given the degrading financial position of the GHAD, we are considering what funding level is necessary to maintain the activities, and alternatives should we not achieve that level of funding.

- The Council will then discuss changes to the General Plan Housing Element.  We first approved changes back in January 2023, however after feedback from CA HCD, they required certain changes before they would certify our Housing Element.  We will discuss those updates.

- We will receive the Annual Comprehensive Financial Report (ACFR).  This is the audited financial statements for the fiscal year ended June 30, 2023.

- We will discuss authorizing $200K of reserves for design and permitting related to the Cardinet Trail repair.  Much of these funds have the potential to be reimbursed by FEMA, but the City is required to spend the money first and reimbursement is not guaranteed.

- We will appoint members to the City Sponsored Special Events Committee.

- We will discuss Council assignments for standing and ad hoc committees.  Each year the Mayor puts forth a proposal for these assignments.

- There will also be a closed session related to labor negotiations regarding the Clayton Police Officers Association.

If you have any thoughts or questions on the above, please let me know.

Wednesday, December 13, 2023

The City Wants to Hear From You - Survey Link

The City is looking for feedback from residents in order to inform both our goal setting session in early 2024, as well as the strategic direction the City takes in terms of level of services, and potential increased taxes that would be necessary to support those services.

As I've been talking about over the last couple of years, given the current economic environment, providing a certain level of service requires a commensurate level of taxes.  With limited resources there will always be tradeoffs and prioritization.

Please take the survey and let us know your thoughts on these issues.  The survey can be found here:

Wednesday, December 6, 2023

My 12.5.23 Meeting Summary and a Year in Review

Last night the Council met to discuss two significant items:

- We conducted our annual Mayoral and Vice Mayoral selection.  The Council chose Councilmember Diaz to serve as Mayor on a vote of 3-1-1 with Cloven voting no and Tillman abstaining.  Councilmember Trupiano was chosen unanimously to be our next Vice Mayor.

- We also discussed standby pay for Maintenance workers.  Previously when a maintenance call came in after hours, it was an ad hoc process for getting a hold of the appropriate staff.  Adopting a policy for standby pay formalizes a process by which a rotation of Maintenance staff would be designated to be on call and available should any after hours work be needed.  This occurs approximately 2-3 times per week.  As the City is then requiring staff to be available, it is fair that they be compensated for that and the Council unanimously approved Standby pay of $50/day for the staff member that is designated.


As I end my rotation as Mayor, I wanted to to take a moment to review some of the things the City has accomplished over the past year. I’ve wrote about each of these as they occurred at my website, however I thought it worthwhile to gather them all in one place.

Quality of Life:

- We approved a resolution in support of Our Neighborhood Voices – a grass roots movement to truly restore local control for housing matters.

- By waiting on approving an increase to speed limits in town, we took advantage this year of a new state law allowing us to preserve our existing speed limits.

- Approved security enhancements for City Hall at the request of our Police Department

- We moved public comment on non-agenda items to the beginning of the agenda to increase predictability allowing more people to participate in our meetings.

Staff Operations and Efficiency:

- We updated our antiquated process for signing physical checks increasing staff efficiency.

- We closed City Hall to the public one day per week to allow staff focused time to work and increase efficiency.

- We polled city staff and asked them what technology or tools they could use to make their work more efficiency and approved funding for several of these items including maintenance and police equipment.

- We updated Council guidelines to reduce burden on staff and formalize how agenda items are brought forward

- Approved implementation of agenda management software to increase efficiency

- Approved implementation of public works communication tool to make it easier for the public to report issues around town and increase staff efficiency

- Executed contract to outsource business license administration to make staff work more efficient

- Completed a comprehensive review of our Maintenance department to establish a service level baseline

- Completed a comprehensive review of the Oakhurst Geological Hazard Abatement District (GHAD) activities and assessment of the GHAD overall. This work provides essential documentation as we move forward on how to address service level issues.

- We hired a full time City Manager, and filled other key staff vacancies.

- We approved an update to our Housing Element as required that is pending approval from CA HCD

- We adopted a policy on City Sponsored Special Events to add clarity.

- We prepared an organizational master calendar for all departments to help begin to assess levels of service.

- Revived National Night Out increasing engagement between our Police and residents.

City Finances:

- We updated our Investment Policy and began more robust reviews of our investments shifting o higher yield products.

- We were awarded a 1% interest loan to fund the largest infrastructure work in Clayton since Oakhurst was constructed. This project will install solar for City facilities, replace lighting throughout the City, install electric vehicle charging, and install water efficiency tools to reduce excessive waste.

- We negotiated and approved an updated agreement with Republic Services complying with new State requirements.

- We conducted a fee study and updated our Master Fee Schedule to capture actual costs and provide a mechanism for fees to always match actual costs. Historically this had not been done so by updating our policies we made all future fee activity more efficient.


While these are a lot of things in a single year, there remains a great deal ahead of us. When the people of Clayton re-elected me in 2022, I made a commitment to not push for any tax increase unless it was a last resort. This means going through a comprehensive process to first understand if there was a problem, determine the scope of the problem, the causes of the problem, and evaluate potential solutions. Only then could a course of action be decided upon and executed. I wrote in detail about this assessment process here:

It certainly has been an exciting year and there is more to come. What we took on this year that hadn’t been done previously was to begin to gather the information necessary to assess where we are as a City. Instead of rushing out pushing an idea of an exorbitant tax increase immediately, I took a more measured and prudent approach. Doing this allows us as a City to make smarter choices, have more thoughtful conversations, and ultimately coalesce around a better approach that works for the City.

After we complete these assessments we as a City will need to determine how to align our revenues with our spending and service delivery, and make choices on the levels of each. I look forward to the discussion as we continue to move forward.

Friday, December 1, 2023

Upcoming Meeting 12.5.23

At our next meeting there are a couple significant items we will discuss:

- We will nominate and appoint a new Mayor and Vice Mayor.  Councilmembers chosen for these positions serve a one year term in these roles.

- We will discuss standby compensation for maintenance workers who respond to service calls outside the normal work hours.

If you have any thoughts or questions on the above, please let me know.