Santa Clarita City Council Member Bob Kellar had the applause line of the evening when he protested the city staff’s Landscape Maintenance District rate adjustments.
“Anything we can do, we need to do to save every nickel for our citizens,” Kellar said.
Kellar said he was tired of people losing their home, many of them seniors. He decried the answer for government at every level is to just raise taxes.
“Makes me sick,” said Kellar.
Kellar’s words resonated with the crowd at Tuesday night’s public hearing on the proposed annexations into, detachments from, creation of new zones, and assessment rate adjustments for Landscape Maintenance Districts Numbers 1, Ti and various zones.
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Even though some landowners would see a decrease in their taxes, others felt it was the city’s way of getting the outcome they wanted.
City residents speaking to the council said land owners getting tax breaks would vote for the changes, out-weighing those who would get raises.
Assistant City Manager Ken Striplin defended the process by pointing out that Northbridge residents have been encouraged to vote against the change despite potentially receiving a tax break.
Kellar wasn’t buying the comparison, especially for Friendly Valley residents whose taxes would rise.
“The vast majority in Friendly Valley are on fixed incomes. They should not be compared to Northbridge,” Kellar said.
Landscape maintenance districts, or “LMDs,” are mechanisms to pay for the upkeep of common-area landscaping and hardscape such as roadway medians, paseos and street trees. They are funded through property tax assessments.
Kellar suggested those projects be put “on hold and wait for the economy to come back.”
Before the public hearing began City Attorney Joe Montes had to recuse three members of the city council, Mayor Marsha McLean, Mayor Pro Tem Laurie Ender, and Laurene Weste, who might be perceived to receive benefits from the LMD changes.
However, since three votes are required by law sealed envelopes were distributed to the three council members and by chance Laurene Weste was allowed to remain.
Assessment ballots were mailed to landowners on July 27, 2011. The tallies are weighted according to how much the landowner would be expected to pay.
Kellar asked city staff if there was not a vehicle to allow districts to vote on their own area rather than having someone who gets a tax reduction be pitted against those whose taxes would rise.
Deputy City Manager Darren Hernandez explained that because of state law Prop. 218 all the ballots must be counted as a whole.
The tabulation of the ballots begins Wednesday September 14 on the second floor of City Hall from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The public is allowed to view the proceedings.
The count will be announced at the September 27, city council meeting.
Agenda item 7, the seemingly innocuous proposal to adopt the membership charter for the Los Angeles Collaboration for Climate Action and Sustainability (LARC) elicited the following descriptions from residents:
“A threat to national sovereignty.”
“This pushes the international agenda down our throat one step farther.”
“…seditious, if not treasonous…”
“This is about the U.N. controlling municipalities.”
And, describing climate change as “a global warming farce.”
Council Member Bob Kellar reacted favorably to the statements saying that at a minimum the item should be tabled to the next meeting to do “more homework.”
Mayor Marsha McLean asked for clarification that adoption of the membership charter would put the city inline for grant funding.
City staff explained that membership did indeed put them in a position to favorably “leverage” grant funding but was also a necessary part of adhering to the state mandate in AB 32 for reducing greenhouse gases.
They added that the city’s efforts to adhere to AB 32 kept the city’s General Plan from being opposed by Sacramento.
Nevertheless, cries for the city council to “Defend the Constitution” and to “Rescind the climate action plan” won the day as the item was pulled from the agenda.
The remaining six members of the Temporary Bin and Roll-Off Franchise successfully defended their waste hauling turf by speaking against Item #9 on the city council agenda which would allow additional enterprises to join the franchise.
One waste hauler framed his business as being in “survival mode.”
The economy, the haulers explained, had been tough on business. More competition would make business even tougher.
The Temporary Bin and Roll-Off Franchise went into effect January 2006 in an effort to increase diversion as mandated by Assembly Bill 939. This bill required all jurisdictions in the state to recycle a minimum of 50 percent of all waste generated.
In 2005, the city had a diversion rate of 49 percent, just shy of the requirement. In 2006, the city reported an increased rate of 54 percent. There is currently proposed state legislation to increase the 50 percent diversion requirement to 75 percent by 2020.
Since 2006, the Temporary Bin and Roll-Off Franchise Program has successfully diverted over 136,023 tons of the materials collected.
During the past five years, through acquisitions, consolidation, and hauling companies choosing to stop providing services, the number of franchises decreased from ten to six.
At the city council meeting on November 9, 2010, the existing six franchise agreements were extended five years to December 31, 2015.
The City Council's action was to extend the existing franchises while ensuring that new hauling companies are not precluded from joining the franchise.
Based on discussions with the City Attorney regarding the city council's action, it was determined the only way to not preclude new hauling companies from joining the franchise is to open the franchise to additional hauling companies, subject to city council approval.
Subsequently, the city received inquiries from three outside hauling companies requesting to join the franchise. In consideration of these requests, staff developed a Request for Proposals (RFP).
Staff intended to bring the eligible applicants back to the city council in October 2011 for consideration of a franchise, which would begin January 1, 2012.
However, based on the recent direction staff received at the August 23 City Council meeting, staff is recommending to terminate the RFP process and rescind Resolution 09-24.
The companies that downloaded proposals were contacted to advise them of the proposed action at the Council meeting tonight.
The city council approved Item #9
After clarification on the number of homes allowed to be built under the Copper Hill Annexation Item #6 the SECOND READING AND ADOPTION OF AN ORDINANCE FOR PREZONE 11-001 (MASTER CASE 11-038) FOR THE NORTH COPPERHILL ANNEXATION AREA was passed.
Prezone 11-001 is for the 2,475- acre North Copperhill Annexation area located east of San Francisquito Canyon, south of the Angeles National Forest, west and south of Bouquet Canyon Road, and north and east of the existing City of Santa Clarita corporate boundary.
Following a clarification on the dollar amount the city council passed Item #4, AWARD JANITORIAL SERVICES CONTRACT FOR THE SANTA CLARITA SPORTS COMPLEX.
With passage the city council awarded a contract to ABM Company for janitorial services at the Santa Clarita Sports Complex in the amount of $130,200, subject to the right of the City Manager to modify the award in the event issues of impossibility of performance arise; execute up to two (2) annual renewal options not to exceed $130,200 each, plus Consumer Price Index (CPI) adjustments, contingent upon the appropriation of funds by the City Council in the annual budget for such Fiscal Year; authorize the City Manager, or designee, to execute all documents, subject to City Attorney approval.
The following items were approved as part of the Consent Calendar:
Item # 3 CONTRACT FOR SEASONS PRINTING
City Council awarded the contract for the printing of the city's SEASONS Magazine to Publication Printers, subject to the right of the City Manager to modify the award in the event issues of impossibility of performance arise, and authorize City Manager to execute the contract subject to City Attorney approval, for an amount not to exceed $27,963 per issue, plus a contingency of $5,592.
Contingency is for possible page and/or quantity increase for a total of $33,550 per issue for four issues annually from account number 15102-5101.004. The award is for an initial term of one year and has three optional renewal years.
SEASONS is the city's quarterly magazine and provides listings of sports and recreation offerings, as well as information about what is happening in the City. It is mailed to every household in the city. An invitation to bid was prepared and published two times, July 17 and July 22, 2011, and was conducted in compliance with the support of Santa Clarita businesses program.
Item #5,FISCAL YEAR 2011 EDWARD BYRNE MEMORIAL JUSTICE ASSISTANCE GRANT (JAG) PROGRAM
The City of Santa Clarita accepted a grant award in the amount of $36,780 by the U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Assistance, through the Fiscal Year 2011 Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) Program.