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Disability Awareness Month

Mayor Novelli read a proclamation declaring June, 2019 Disability Awareness Month.

Ninth Street Realignment

Per the City Council’s request, the Engineering, Building and Capital Projects department brought back a modified design for the Ninth Street Realignment project, which included a dedicated right turn lane.

The dedicated turn lane will create a “safe travel corridor” for students, pedestrian and bike traffic, City of Patterson Director of Engineering, Building, Capital Projects and City Engineer Fernando Ulloa said. The cost for the change is “negligible,” and “will fall well within the contingency for the project,” he said.

The council was very supportive of the change. City Councilmember Dominic Farinha said the changes “definitely make sense,” and that he is “glad to see it happen.”

Mayor Deborah Novelli asked about a bike lane. City Manager Ken Irwin responded that the city is currently working on a Transportation Master Plan, which includes sidewalks and bike lanes, and cautioned the council about altering the project’s current plan, for which the city has received a grant. “We can’t make a lot of changes because of the grant;” he said, pointing out that “if we start making changes, we could lose the grant.” But, he said, the city can collect Measure L funds to pay for other improvements in the area.

Water, sewer and storm drain impact fees

Before a new construction project (houses, commercial spaces, industrial) can begin, the entity developing the property must pay for the project’s anticipated impact on public facilities, including water, sewer and storm drain. Those fees are based on the need for future facilities identified in the city’s recently-completed water, sewer and other master plans, Bartles and Wells consultant Doug Dove, who generated the report, said.

Such fees only apply to new development, and are a way for the city to collect funds for facilities that will be needed in the future, such as a fire station or wastewater treatment plant. The collected funds are then earmarked for the future project, and accumulated by the city until they are needed.

Later in the meeting, City Manager Ken Irwin explained that the city’s whole approach to handling waste water, whether via storm drain or sewer, has changed: city officials have moved away from pumping such water to the river, and are now focused on collecting it and encouraging it to percolate down to replenish the water table wherever possible. Although not all areas have soil suitable for percolation, the concept is being employed wherever it is appropriate, he said.

Consultant Doug Dove of Bartles and Wells, who generated the report, said that the city’s current fee structure was established in 2006. The new fees for water and sewer are based on the size of the water meter. “It’s a little bit easier to administer; a little more accurate,” he said.

Exceptions, he said, are multi-family and accessory dwelling units. The fee for multi-family units will still be on a reduced dwelling-unit basis, he said.

Accessory dwelling units, however, will be on a fixture-unit basis, so the fees for those types of construction projects will be “proportional,” he said. That complies with state law for accessory dwelling units, he added.

Irwin said that other jurisdictions are changing to a fixture-unit basis fee schedule, as well.

The sewer fees came in lower than expected, Irwin said, because “the previous master plan had a very large (water) treatment plant. We’re getting away from that concept, and doing wellhead treatment. The cost is much, much less.” However, the city is “still at the high end” of such fees, Irwin said. “This is all data that came from the Master Plan… but it’s accurate, at that level, to make sure that the master planned facilities can be built and paid for by new growth, and new growth only.”

For accessory dwellings, the new fees are based on the number of “fixture units, as designated by the California Plumbing Code,” Dove said. “A toilet might be three fixture units,” Dove said, “sink might be two, and so forth.” The fee for such units ranges from around $300 to about $560.

No changes were made to the storm drain fee structure for storm drain, Dove said.

Trash service fee increase

After a city-wide Proposition 218 ballot which received only one “no” vote, the Council passed a five-year fee structure that includes a 4.9 percent increase for each of the next five years. The increase translates to $1.61 per month for the average residential customer. The new rate structure takes effect on July 1.

Low-income seniors (60 and over) who qualify for the TID Cares program are eligible for a $10 monthly discount on their utility bills. Applications are available in the Finance Department at City Hall.

2019-2020 budget

As the various agencies whose fiscal years run from July 1 to June 30 have presented their budgets to their boards, they have all indicated they are planning for the currently flattening economy, and the word ‘recession’ has come up more than once. Most are budgeting very conservatively, and the city is no different. After advising the council that the city’s budget is “very conservative,” Finance Director Saadiah Ryan said, “We don’t have a big buffer, but we’re in the black.”

A number of factors impacted this year’s budget, including revenue from cannabis businesses that has come in more slowly than anticipated. However, several of the businesses have begun making “catch up” payments, and another dispensary, The Higher Conscious, opened earlier this month.

Still, city officials are looking at ways to pay for at least one new fire truck (a $1.4 million investment), as well as continuing to provide the various services needed to keep the community running smoothly. Additional law enforcement personnel will be coming soon, as well.

Novelli said she “keep(s) hearing a recession might be on the cusp,” and that the council is continuing to be prudent. She also said she’s “extremely pleased” that the city is “well above” the required GFOA reserve.

Councilmember Farinha – also mentioned that the city is in its current financial position “through prudent decision making and budgeting, and we will continue doing so, to get to the next year with the same breathing space as we’ve had.”

The Council also doled out praise for the Apricot Fiesta, with Novelli offering a couple of rounds of applause, saying, “Hats off to the Apricot Fiesta Committee,” and then recognizing the Police, Fire and Public Works departments for their work during the event. Staff “just make(s) it look effortless,” she said. She also mentioned the fireworks, calling that part of the weekend “an absolutely amazing show.”

Councilmember Dominic Farinha said “the parade was fun. Everything about the Fiesta is always great, because it’s assembled and carried out by a great team. You know, 49 years in continuous operation, and it’s always put together with dedication and excellence, so hats off to them, and I know I’m looking forward to next year, which is their 50th anniversary. I think there’s gonna be some really great surprises,” he added.

Councilmember Joshua Naranjo thanked “everyone that was involved with the Apricot Fiesta.” He mentioned the law enforcement Explorers walking out “the ladies... That was great,” he said.

“Overall,” Councilmember Cynthia Homen said, “I loved the Fiesta, and this is, probably, I would think, my 45th Fiesta. And it’s changed a lot over the years. I think it has become so well orchestrated... I was very impressed with city staff -- really wonderful... it went seamlessly,” she said. “And the parade was absolutely fun, and everything about it was great... so thank you to everyone involved in the Fiesta.”

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