Council to hear midcycle budget, staffing recommendations tonight

| June 20, 2018 | 0 Comments

MARTINEZ, Calif. – Martinez staff members will offer their recommendations for midcycle 2017-19 budget amendments, funding for local nonprofit organizations and staffing changes at tonight’s City Council meeting.

The budget didn’t anticipate some of the city’s expenses, said City Manager Brad Kilger, Assistant City Manager Anne Cardwell and Finance Director David Glasser in their joint report.

“For example, the city’s process to move to district elections was an undertaking that required significant expense and time,” they wrote. But the city was under threat of litigation by a Malibu attorney who claimed the city’s at-large elections violated the California Voting Rights Act (CVRA).

“While it was determined the city was not in violation of the CVRA, the decision was made to avoid costly litigation and move to district elections,” they wrote.

The Council acted on an opportunity to bring an independent league’s expansion baseball team to play on Field 3 of Waterfront Park, and the Martinez Clippers’ season is underway.

Measure D, a half-cent sales tax with revenues to be used for local road repair and maintenance, has let Martinez expand that work by a factor of seven, and several road projects will be started in summer. More potholes are being repaired, and larger segments of damaged streets are being repaired.

City employees also have been engaged in the Phase 3 of the Intermodal project buying the Parking Lot 4 building, reuse of the former Southern Pacific depot, negotiations for the preservation of Alhambra Highlands, enrollment of residents in Marin Clean Energy (MCE) and talks with California Public Employees Retirement System, Social Security and the Internal Revenue Service about the dissolution of the Joint Facilities Agreement (JFA) with Pleasant Hill.

Because Martinez JFA agreement employees will become city employees Aug. 1, past employment financial records will be corrected and the Council will consider tonight whether to use the ICMA plan consolidation service to transfer member accounts from the JFA to Martinez.

Martinez police officers were given salary boosts using city reserves despite having a contract in place because those salaries weren’t competitive with those of neighboring cities. Some officers announced they had found jobs elsewhere, and finding qualified replacements willing to work at the contract’s rate had proven challenging.

Officers who had been on special assignments and even command staff members were pulled away to go on patrol.

“With the recent increase to sworn salaries, recruitment and retention efforts are already starting to improve, and it is anticipated that an officer can be assigned as a School Resource Officer within the next fiscal year,” the three wrote.

In addition, the Council will be considering approving an extension to its memorandum of understanding with the Martinez Police nonsworn employees, a $22,000 additional cost that would come from General Fund reserves for Fiscal Year 2018-19.

As part of the mid-cycle adjustments, the staff report noted that an organizational scan of the city produced 61 recommendation, of which 15 affect the Public Works Department. Among those that should be addressed soon are succession planning and transferring building permits and inspection duties to the Community and Economic Development Department, the trio wrote.

The Community and Economic Development Department, which has experienced staffing instability in the past 10 years, gradually is gaining more staff. However, because staff had been reduced significantly in the past, planning activities and critical projects, such as the General Plan update and creation of the Marina Master Plan were delayed, as were several other documents, reports and updates.

Adoption of a formal economic development program has moved the city in the right direction, but Martinez’s economic development action plan needs to be finished, and more employees are needed in the Planning Division.

Revenues that go into the General Fund are expected to be $309,867 more than projected, from a 5.25 percent increase in property values; higher charges for rents, leases, royalties and swimming pool admission; and $28,083 increase in revenues from the Clippers’ use of the baseball field; but general sales tax revenues are $204,188 lower than predicted.

The report said more than $1.25 million in expenditures adjustments also will be requested. Of this, $26,000 is for maintenance and supplies for Field 3, $18,000 is for information technology services, $50,000 for more legal services than anticipated; $99,211 for Community and Economic Development, including $50,000 to update the General Plan; $916,288 for Martinez Police, most of which is for increased labor costs, with the rest for overtime, contract services with Contra Costa County for animal control services and communications.

Public Works would need $149,545 more to meet an increase in liability claim expenses, cleaning homeless encampments and employee adjustments, the report said.

It also recommended spending $42,000 of the Capital Improvement Projects Fund for improvements at the Martinez Senior Center and increasing the Other Services account by $1,160 to cover distribution of information that supports the California Youth Energy Program and other activities, and the Contributions and Promotions account by $1,880 for expenses related to the New Leaf Collaborative recycling program.

Recommendations for changes and adjustments in staffing also will be presented.

Recommended funding of community organizations’ requests is $12,500, although the groups asked for a combined $17,250.

If the Council concurs, Meals on Wheels of Contra Costa would get $1,850, the largest amount awarded from the General Fund, with Sea Scout Ship Albatross getting $1,250 from the same source. Five organizations would get $1,000 each – Worth a Dam for its annual Beaver Festival; Contra Costa Historical Society; Martinez historical Society, Loaves and Fishes of Contra Costa and Juvenile Hall Auxiliary.

Martinez Arts Association would get $900; and $500 each would go to Hospice Foundation of East Bay and College Park High School Grad Night, for a total of $10,000.

John Muir Association would get $2,500 from the Recycle Fund.

Also under consideration is a contract extension with Contra Costa County Health, Housing and Homeless Services for outreach services through the Coordinated Outreach, Referral and Engagement (CORE) team.

The city began contracting for these services in May 2017, and shares a two-person CORE team with Pleasant Hill, each receiving 20 hours of service each week.

In his report, Martinez Police Chief Manjit Sappal said Contra Costa County has about 2,234 people experiencing homeless on any given night. Martinez has seen an increase in its homeless population during the past several years.

Likewise, the department has received more complaints of crime, quality of life issues public intoxication, thefts, disturbances at businesses, health hazards related to encampments and public urination.

“A large number of the homeless individuals in our community have significant mental health issues, drug and alcohol dependencies, are victims of domestic violence or have experienced a combination of these factors,” Sappal wrote.

Citing county statistics, he wrote than 76 percent suffer from a disability; 23 percent have experienced domestic violence, 8 percent are veterans and 18 percent are 60 or older.

The partnership with the county for the CORE team gives Martinez more options in dealing with homelessness issues, identifying people’s needs, providing resources and referrals, helping people obtain housing and coordinating with the county on data tracking.

“The CORE Team serves as an entry point into the coordinated system of services – the Contiuum of Care – which allows people to utilize services through case management,” Sappal wrote.

CORE contacted 1,279 homeless people in Martinez from May 31, 2017, to May 31, 2018, and 356 of them were new to homelessness, he wrote.

Of the newly homeless, 40 percent resolved the situation without needing county services any more than six months, and 38.5 percent received emergency shelter through CORE, which helped them get off the streets, he wrote.

“Without the collaboration with CORE, these outcomes would not have been possible,” he wrote.

Because Martinez has a partnership with Pleasant Hill for its team, and Concord and Walnut Creek have partnership for their own team, the four cities have been able to look at the problem from a regional perspective, he wrote.

“Prior to utilizing CORE, police officers were the only option for working with the homeless, and they have limited ability to spend a great deal of time on each individual,” Sappal wrote. “They were also limited in building trust which allows for getting people to take services or go to a shelter. Through our partnership, we have increased communication, problem solving ability and interventions that were not possible before.”

The annual cost of the team is $162,395, with Martinez and Pleasant Hill splitting the cost. In addition, each city must make a one-time contribution of $2,500 to the County Housing Security Fund, which would be included in the first payment for Fiscal Year 2018-19, Sappal wrote.

A Board of State and Community Corrections grant covered the cost for Fiscal Year 2017-18; Martinez received $90,000 in grant funding from Andeavor, formerly Tesoro, for a three-year period starting in 2016.

For the renewed contract, Sappal is recommending spending $60,000 from the Andeavor grant with the $21,197.50 remainder coming from the police department’s budget, which had set aside $30,000 for homeless related activities. “For the 2018-19 Fiscal Year, there will be no impact to the General Fund,” he wrote.

The Council will vote on a resolution establishing the city’s Appropriations Limit for 2018-19 mandated by the state Constitution Article XIIIB (Gann Initiative) that restricts growth of tax-funded programs and services through limiting appropriations of proceeds of taxes to the 1978-79 base year limit and adjusted annually for changes in population and inflation.

The Council also will decide whether to execute a lease and settlement agreement with Margarita Perez De Garcia for the temporary leasing of Sal’s Family Kitchen space at 825 Escobar Street, a relocation payment and release from Denise Parsons of Canine Design Dog Grooming and appropriation of $740,201 from the Parking Services Fund for acquisition and relocation expenses. A third business in the building, the What Not Shop, has closed. The building that housed the three businesses would be demolished.

The City Council has approved an agreement for the purchase of 821-825 Escobar St. for use as additional parking. Government codes require a city that is buying real estate to provide compensation for moving costs and related expenses if that purchase displaces a business.

Deputy Director of Administrative Services Michael Chandler will recommend approving amendments to both the commercial lease agreement with JaBa LLC to use Campbell Theater, 636 Ward St., and a commercial sublease to Onstage Repertory Theater for its own use of the theater.

Martinez began leasing the property from Bisio Trust in January 2005. That term ended Dec. 31, 2014. The city sublet the theater to Onstage starting Oct. 17, 2013, and that agreement ended Dec. 31, 2014.

The Bisio Trust was succeeded by JaBa LLC, and the current amendments extended the lease and sublease until Aug. 31, 2018. But Onstage wanted consideration of a change that would allow the theater group to plan its 2018-19 season.

The resulting master lease extension would increase the city’s lease payment from $4,000 a month to $5,045 and would run from Sept. 1 of this year to Aug. 31, 2019. The sublease would run through the same dates and would increase the Onstage rent from $1,000 a month to $1,500 a month.

In order to comply with the Elections Code, the Council will vote whether to request a consolidation of a general municipal election Nov. 6. The city’s share of this election, the first to be conducted under the new by-district method, is $1.75 for each registered voter, or $41,434.75.

The Council will meet at 6 p.m. today in closed session to discuss labor and legal matters. The regular meeting will start at 7 p.m. today in the Council Chamber of Martinez City Hall, 525 Henrietta St.

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