City faces decisions to maintain reserves

Martinez City Hall

MARTINEZ, Calif. – Martinez City Council, which recently heard an updated forecast of significant increases in the California Public Employees Retirement Service’s future rates, will need to cut back spending in future years if it is to keep its financial reserves commitment.

A joint report by Assistant City Manager Anne Cardwell and Finance Director David Glasser, which will be presented today at a regular Council meeting, will show that by Fiscal Year 2020-21, the city may have to cut spending by nearly $1.4 million in order to comply with its policy of keeping a 20 percent fund balance in the General Fund unassigned reserves.

That jumps to nearly $4.6 million in Fiscal Year 2021-22, and to nearly $7.2 million b y 2022-23, the report said.

If the Council and city employees don’t act, fund balances would drop below the 20 percent target during the 2020-21 fiscal year, and depending on the extent and timing of expenses related to the dissolution of the Pleasant Hill-Martinez Joint Facilities Agency (JFA), the threat to those reserves could come even sooner, the report said.

No action would be requested at the meeting, Cardwell and Glasser wrote.

“This report is intended as an opportunity for the Council to revisit the fiscal forecast, which now incorporates the expected CalPERS increases, and provide initial direction on potential revenue enhancements or expenditure reductions that Council desires staff to investigate,” they wrote.

City employees will return at the budget’s mid-cycle period with recommendations for responses to the anticipated drop in reserves, they wrote.

Meeting as the Board of Directors of Contra Costa County Sanitation District No. 6, the panel will introduce an ordinance that prescribes the annual sewer service charges for Fiscal Year 2018-19.

District No. 6 was formed in 1992 to provide sanitary sewer services to the Stonehurst subdivision in the Alhambra Valley area. When it was formed, the area didn’t include any territory within Martinez, City Engineer Tim Tucker wrote. However, the city annexed a portion of the District Nov. 19, 2012, and on March 31, 2015, the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors designated the Council as the district’s Board of Directors.

No boundary changes are proposed, and the annual unit charge would be $1,950.

A public hearing June 20 will allow the public to comment or submit written protests to the sewer service charges.

On the Council’s consent calendar is a resolution adopting relocation assistance regulations for public projects involving the acquisition of private property.

In a report by John Abaci, assistant city attorney, and Community and Economic Development Director Christina Ratcliffe, the pair wrote that at the March 21 meeting the Council authorized City Manager Brad Kilger to execute a property purchase agreement with the owner of 821-825 Escobar St. While the building owner also operates one store there, the building has two other tenants.

The building owner would handle moving the one business, but a dog groomer and a restaurant will get city help in finding new spaces to operate. If the real estate purchase goes through, the building will be demolished to create additional parking.

“The city does not have record of having adopted relocation assistance rules and regulations prior to this date, and therefore must do so in rendering assistance to any displaced tenants eligible for relocation assistance as a consequence of a public project occurring anywhere in the city,” the pair wrote.

The resolution would provide for “fair and reasonable” relocation payments to eligible people, establish a relocation assistance program that complies with state law, assure that eligible people are informed of assistance, benefits, policies, practices and procedures, and provide equal, “orderly, timely and efficient relocation” of those who are eligible.

California Relocation Act and other state regulations would be adopted as well, they wrote.

Also on the meeting’s consent calendar, the Council will consider extending solar and graywater-related building fee discounts.

Michael Chandler, deputy director of Administrative Services, wrote that Martinez has had a Climate Action Plan since 2009, and among its strategies is to promote energy efficiency programs and rebates for residential and commercial solar retrofitting.

During the Great Recession, the Council developed an Economic Stimulus Package that included 50 percent discounts in building fees for solar projects and a $35 reduced fee for graywater system installations.

The discounts were supposed to have ended in 2017 and 2016 respectively, and city employees intended to have the fees brought to the Council before their “sunset dates,” Chandler wrote. But that never happened.

However, during the Feb. 27 meeting of the Budget/Finance Subcommittee, that panel agreed with staff recommendations to extend the fees to July 1, 2020.

The Council also will vote on a resolution of intention to allow assignment of Pipeline Franchise Ordinance No. 1392 C.S. to TransMontaigne Operating Company, and set a public hearing for April 18.

Chandler wrote that Martinez was told Dec. 19, 2017, that Plains Products Terminals was asking for consent for the assignment of franchised pipeline assets governed by that ordinance to TransMontaigne.

He wrote that the pipelines that are subject to the franchise assignment have two components. The first is a system of three pipelines west of the former Martinez Plains Terminal at 2801 Waterfront Road within Marina Vista Avenue’s right of way and the franchise area at the limit line at Marina Vista Avenue and the Interstate-680 overpass, exiting the franchise area at various points along the frontage of the Shell Martinez Refinery.

The second component is a portion of pipeline east of the terminal in the shoulder of Waterfont Road entering the city boundary at the foot of the bridge over the Union Pacific Railroad and running east until it exits the franchise area at the city’s eastern limit.

The city has listed several conditions that need to be met before the Council would conduct the public hearing on the assignment, including the name, address and contact information of the legal entity that owns or controls the proposed assignee, TransMontaigne; paying a $15,000 transfer/assignment fee; giving the city a copy of any purchase and assignment agreements; providing “credible and sufficient evidence” that show TransMontaigne can assume and perform the obligations of the franchise ordinance; the company must assure in writing it is not in default under any material terms and conditions and file with the Council a written acceptance of the terms of the ordinance; and would keep on file with the city a $75,000 bond.

Both Plains and TransMontaigne have satisfied those requirements, Chandler wrote.

Postmaster To Address Council Today

Martinez Postmaster Jeanette Davis
Martinez Postmaster Jeanette Davis, shown here speaking to City Council in May 2015, will speak tonight at a meeting of the Martinez City Council.

Martinez Postmaster Jeanette Davis will speak tonight at a meeting of the Martinez City Council.

At past meetings, several residents complained about mail service, including deliveries as late as 10 p.m., as well as other problems with delivery and other services.

Last year postal customers whose mail comes through the Martinez, although some live in unincorporated areas, reported thefts and damage to mail boxes that lead to no regular mail delivery for weeks.

The United States Postal Service is an independent federal agency, and in the past, residents have been advised to speak with the city’s two members of the House of Representatives, Mike Thompson and Mark DeSaulnier.

However, at a recent town hall meeting, representatives of both men said they had not received any complaints from Martinez residents.

It won’t be the first time Davis has addressed the Council about mail service. In 2015, she came to address complaints only to receive 11 more pages of complaints from Councilmember Lara DeLaney.

Those pages contained reports of lost mail, carrier turnover, poor counter service at the Alhambra Avenue main office and late or missed deliveries. At the time, Davis said, she had lost a third of her employees through retirement, and was having trouble getting carriers for 37 city routes and two rural ones.

The Council will meet in closed session at 6 p.m. today to discuss price and terms of the lease of the Campbell Theater, 636 Ward St., and to continue labor negotiations with Laborers’ Intenational Union of North America Local 324, Martinez Police Non-Sowrd Employees Association and Martinez Police Officers Association.

The regular meeting will start at 7 p.m. at the Council Chamber of City Hall, 525 Henrietta St.

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