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Paso Robles City Council meeting highlights 

City Council meeting highlights

Highlights from the City Council meeting on Tuesday, May 19, as sent by the City of Paso Robles are as follows.

Note: In compliance with social distancing, the council, staff, and the public participated via conference call. The public was given the opportunity to view a livestream of the meeting at www.prcity.com/youtube, invited to call into the meeting at 805-865-PASO (7276), and to email public comment to cityclerk@prcity.com prior to the meeting.

The City Council took the following actions:

Received an update on the COVID-19 Pandemic situation, response, and recovery: Staff provided an update on the current number of confirmed cases of coronavirus in the county, and reported that testing is now available in Paso Robles at the Veterans Center (free for those who do not have insurance to cover costs.) The State updated its criteria this week to allow more counties to proceed further into Phase 2 of reopening per the State’s Resilience Roadmap. San Luis Obispo County submitted a second attestation today outlining how SLO County meets the new criteria and hopes to hear back from the state soon regarding reopening dine-in restaurants and in-store retail. Local businesses are encouraged to review state guidelines required for each business to reopen and begin preparations now. Information is available at emergencyslo.org/reopening.

Recognized National Peace Officer Memorial Day and National Police Week: Mayor Martin presented a Proclamation designating May 15 as National Peace Officer Memorial Day and the week of May 10-16, 2020 as National Police Week in Paso Robles. 146 peace officers in our nation were killed in the line of duty in 2019 and 13 peace officers were killed in California between May of 2019 and May of 2020. The proclamation publicly salutes the service of law enforcement officers in our community and in communities across the nation.

Received a Capital Projects Update: Barney Schwartz Park improvements are well underway and significant progress has been made during the pandemic. Union Road near Barney Schwarz Park is also undergoing paving improvements. Annual pavement striping and markings, funded through Gas Tax revenues, is also underway, including on Vine Street from 1st St. to 24th St. and several other locations around town. Utilities are being relocated in preparation for the city’s project to realign and improve Dry Creek Road. Work continues on the Main West Water tank as well. View pictures and a video of construction here.

Approved the Local Hazard Mitigation Plan: which incorporates mitigation strategies and actions the city could take to mitigate or reduce impacts from possible future disasters, including, but not limited to: earthquakes, flooding, drought, extreme heat, stormwater, landslides, wildland fires, and hazardous material incidents. The updated plan was completed in coordination with the county to ensure regional preparedness, replace the 2016 plan and ensure the city is eligible for reimbursement for FEMA for any costs related to these disasters, if one were to occur.

Approved an agreement with the county to improve Jardine Road: The agreement, which is estimated to cost the city approximately $500,000, will take advantage of the county’s paving contract to completed improvements to Jardine Road that will last for approximately 15-20 years. The scope of work will include a 1” asphalt leveling course on the east side followed by a 2” asphalt overlay over the entire roadway. This is a more cost-effective option than others that council considered, including having the city self-perform the work or complete a full rebuild of the roadway. This approach is a test case, as it may be advantageous for the city to contract with the county on other road work, dur to the county’s purchasing power, due to its greater volume of work.

Conducted a public hearing concluding the Proposition 218 process for solid waste collection rates: Paso Robles Waste & Recycle (PRWR) provides solid waste collection services for the city, with a Franchise Agreement through 2027. In July 2015, the City Council completed the Prop 218 process and approved a rate increase request proposed by PRWR for modest increases over a five-year period (2016-2020). PRWR had not had a rate increase for the prior 8 years. PRWR’s Franchise Agreement with the city enumerates the steps PRWR must undertake to request subsequent rate adjustments. PRWR initiated the process about 11 months ago, completed the required analyses, and on June 21, 2019 submitted a rate increase request letter to the city. The recycling industry has changed significantly in the last several years as China has instituted strict restrictions on the scrap materials they will accept. This change has left haulers and processors struggling to meet the need for hauling and recycling the collected materials. Many communities have already had to implement significant rate increases. The franchise agreement calls for a reasonable rate of return which, based on industry standards, is about 10-percent. By comparison, the audit performed indicated that PRWR operated at a loss in 2018. The City Council approved the proposed rate increases as follows: 8.8-percent on 7/1/2020; 8.78-percent on 1/1/2021; 6-percent on 1/1/2022; estimated 3-percent on 1/1/2023; and estimated 3-percent on 1/1/2024. Notices were mailed to all PRWR customers as well as property owners on March 27, 2020, with the 45-day comment period ending on May 14, 2020.

Provided continued direction on the proposed FY 2020-21 Budget: Council received a presentation on the anticipated fiscal impacts of COVID-19 on the city’s budget for the upcoming fiscal year, which starts on July 1. Council reviewed four scenarios for budget reductions and directed staff to pursue the scenario that takes a priority-based approach to reductions (rather than equivalent percentage cuts in various budget categories), and that aims to retain General Fund reserves at 30-percent of expenditures. This will require a General Fund budget reduction of approximately $7.8 million in FY 2020-21 based on current revenue estimates, which may continue to evolve as the pandemic progresses. Staff will return to the council for more detailed exploration of budget reductions on June 2nd, including the implementation of a voluntary retirement program, as well as direction on the city’s water, wastewater, and airport enterprise funds.

Adoption of a ‘comprehensive reopening and fair compliance approach that balances public health guidelines and economic viability’: Council considered several options for education, compliance, and enforcement with public health guidelines associated with COVID-19. Council directed staff to continue with the current complaint-driven educational approach to any businesses that are not complying with public health orders and guidelines, with an enhanced approach to public information and community engagement around these issues. Council expressed support for the county’s efforts to attest to the state that SLO County is ready to move further into reopening.

COVID-19 economic recovery measures: temporary uses of the public right-of-way – parklets, street closures, and city park seating: Council considered a City Park Dining Program, temporary closures of Park Street, from 12th to 13th, one night a week, on a pilot basis, and an Interim Parklet Policy to facilitate local businesses’ ability to comply with social distancing requirements. Council directed staff to proceed with the City Park Dining Program and to determine how to replicate it at parks throughout the city, and directed staff to return in two weeks with additional information regarding parklets and street closure options.

This represents just a subset of the total actions by the council. The full agenda can be found at www.prcity.com/agendacenter and the audio from the meeting can be found at www.prcity.com/AgendaCenter/City-Council-2 or www.prcity.com/youtube. The minutes will be available as part of the packet for the city council’s next regular meeting.

The next regular city council meeting takes place on Tuesday, June 2 at 6:30 p.m. via livestream at www.prcity.com/youtube. Public comment can be made during the meeting by 805-865-PASO (7276) or provided prior to the meeting by emailing cityclerk@prcity.com.



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About the author: News Staff

News staff of the Paso Robles Daily News wrote and edited this story from local contributors and press releases. Scott Brennan is the publisher of this newspaper and founder of Access Publishing. Connect with him on Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, or follow his blog. He can be reached at scott@pasoroblesdailynews.com.