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On The City Council Agenda – January 20, 2015

Hidden Agenda ClipartUnless the councilmembers suddenly get an urge to actually discuss something, it looks like it will be a fairly short meeting of the Tustin City Council on Tuesday. Councilman Bernsein, are you back yet? Chuck missed you.

The Closed Session, which begins at 5:30 PM, hosts the usual suspects. Several discussions regarding existing or potential litigation include a long standing case, now an appellate case, between the city’s old Redevelopment Agency and the Department of Finance. And, while the city attorney decided to keep the wraps on the case, we’ve been able to surmise it involves several million dollars of disputed RDA funds. It turns out the parties reached an agreement in December and we should soon see this issue drop off the radar.

Redevelopment agencies were dissolved by law back in 2011. Unfortunately, as is the usual case with a half-baked legislature, they only did half the job and made up for it by creating, so-called “successor agencies”. Much of this was in the middle of the state attempting to remain solvent by grabbing as much tax money from cities and counties as possible. This, of course, generated millions of dollars in business for lawyers which, I’m sure, our city attorney is happy to keep going as long as possible.

Most of the Regular Session items are on the Consent Calendar. Perusing the Demands and Payroll, the only item of interest is the apparent high cost of our mylawyercontract city attorneys at Woodruff, Speadlin & Smart. Perhaps City Attorney David Kendig is trying for partner. Total cost of our attorney services this month is $17 thousand and change. That’s apparently in addition to the $34 thousand plus the lawyers charged for Successor RDA work and other legal fees hidden sprinkled throughout the report. You’ll have to be the judge of whether we are getting our money’s worth.

Most of the other items on the agenda are routine business and we doubt they will generate much discussion. Item 6, Long Range Property Management Plan and Item 7, Amend and Reinstate the Working Capital Loan, etc., are two more pieces to the puzzle left by the RDA. We know the city council would love the legislature to reinstate the RDAs in California. Like most cities, they have been dragging their feet and crossing their fingers in hopes of resurrection. With any luck, they will run out of excuses and money to play with and disappear completely before that happens.

Two items will round out the Regular Business. Item 8, Comprehensive Annual Financial Report for Fiscal Year 2014 is the annual financial analysis of the city. I’m not much for numbers but you can read the report here. The short version is here.

Item 9, Commission Vacancies, lists the expiring terms of the Planning, Community Services and Audit Commissions. There are three terms expiring on each. Most of these carry a tidy stipend for a bit of community service. As soon as they are posted, we’ll let you know (along with who has applied).

That’s it for this meeting. We’ll let you know if anything interesting happens…..or anyone shows up for the meeting.

By the way, welcome back Chief Cellano.

On The City Council Agenda, June 18, 2013

SnafuMS_0277Sorry for the late post but, after all, I am on vacation this month. Julie and I are planning to head to New Mexico later this week and it has been a chore getting the new motorcycle ready for the trip. One doesn’t realize the number (and cost) of accessories they have accumulated over the years until they have to replace them. If you would like to see what and where we will be up to, you can read about it here.

Other issues are hindering my posting as well. It seems the software plugin I relied on for so many years to assist me in making accurate posts has stopped working and the designers are no longer supporting it. It’s kind of like going back to tubes from ICs in respect to the ease and speed of posting articles. Bear with me.

This week’s Tustin City Council agenda is pretty full. It may take a while to get through and I may just show up for the meeting just to get a glimpse of our city council. I, for one, would like to see if this boring bunch is actually still breathing.

Topping the agenda on the Closed session are the labor negotiations with all of the city’s employees, including the police. Most of the city’s staff are represented by the Orange County Employees Association (OCEA). My sources tell me the city is refusing to negotiate any kind of raise for the rank-and-file and is looking  to get the employees to pay more into their retirement than they already do. Hopefully, the employees’ chief labor negotiator, Frank Flavin, is aware of the recent antics of the city council giving Chief of Police Scott Jordan a 5% raise supposedly to keep him from moving on. The joke in that is, where would he go? Almost every city in the state has diluted their public safety retirement benefits to the point where it would be downright stupid for Jordan to think of leaving.

We also hope Flavin knows of the recent changes and creation of several high level positions that allowed City Manager Jeff Parker to effectively hide raises for many executive and managerial positions in the city. Most of these, of course, have been in the Community Development Department. It would be interesting to see how many new hires have been employed by Parker using his 21st Century Hiring scam. Of course, this in itself is something that should be challenged by the unions as an illegal tactic to get around the city hiring rules.

Also on the Closed Session is the usual exposure to litigation and Real Property negotiations with Cushman Wakefield, Pacific Standard Homes, the US Army and one private party. The discussion with the US Army concerns 15 acres of property in a swap that will allow the city to sell off the current Army Reserve Center on Barranca Parkway for further expansion of the District. It’s curious that City Manager Jeff Parker is acting as the chief negotiator for the city on this. Could it be we are seeing the OJT for his next job as a real estate consultant for local government?

The city budget is also scheduled to be adopted by the city council. It’s doubtful that the Podiatrist Councilman has the faintest idea of what is involved in budgeting so don’t expect him to do anything but nod and follow the lead of his mentor Chuck Puckett. Puckett probably has better knowledge of the budget but my bet is on Councilmembers Nielsen and Gomez who, with the experience they have with the city, are the best experts behind City Manager Jeff Parker, to determine if the numbers add up. Assuming these two have thoroughly vetted the proposed budget, don’t expect any fireworks over the issue.

Close Session

Conference with Legal Counsel, Initiation/Exposure to Litigation – 2 cases each.

Labor Negotiations – TMEA, TPPSA (both by OCEA), TPOA & TPMA, public safety, Unrepresented Employees.

Conference with Real Property Negotiators – 4 items including one private party for the Tustin Housing Authority

Public Hearings

Consider Levying of Annual Assessments for the Tustin Landscape and Lighting District 2012-2014 – Recommendation is to adopt a resolution setting the annual levy amount for the district.

Consent Calendar

Approve the Annual Measure M2 Eligibility Submittal Package – Annual report certifying the city’s compliance for eligibility for transportation funds.

Approve Plans and Specifications and Authorize Advertisement for Bids for the McFadden Avenue and Irvine Boulevard Rehabilitation Projects – Both items have been budgeted and funded in the amount of $358,000 plus funding from Santa Ana and M2 funds. Projects should be completed by the end of the year.

Regular Business

Adopt 2013-2014 Budget – Adopt the 2013-2014 city budget including all anticipated revenue from Special Revenue Funds and Water Enterprise Funds in the amount of $130, 612, 228. Also included is an adoption of the Tustin Housing Authority budget of $265, 800. The housing authority budget includes personnel costs of $155,000. We will be dong an in-depth analysis of the budget in the near future.

Successor Agency Resolution Appropriating Funds for the Successor Agency for 6 months of the Fiscal Year – The Successor Agency (to the Redevelopment Agency) budget is $5,144,447 drawn from anticipated revenues of the Successor Agency. Most of this budget ($4.6 million) is for debt service on the old Redevelopment Agency and is paid from the Redevelopment Trust Fund.

That’s it for the week. As I said, we most likely be at the meeting tonight and possibly have coffee afterward at one of the local coffee shops. Watch my Twitter feed @keepdapeace for the location.

On The City Council Agenda, February 5, 2013

Hidden Agenda ClipartA pretty busy meeting ahead for the Tustin City Council. For the first time in I don’t know how long, there is no mention of the lawsuits between the city and TUSD. A refreshing change, indeed.

That said, there are a few items of interest on the calendar including closed session items that relate to the sale of several parcels of MCAS property. Item 12 on the Open Session Calendar also concerns Tustin Legacy as a request for extension for negotiations is considered.

Item 6 on the Consent Calendar is a request to adjust lot lines in Tustin Marketplace to accommodate a new restaurant. It is not much concern unless you eat at In-n-Out, in which case you’ll be happy to know the adjustment will provide a longer drive-through lineup.

Item 8 should be pulled from the Consent Calendar for discussion. Remember PARS? That was the early retirement plan the city council approved last year that was supposed to save the city big bucks by giving an incentive to employees to retire early. Besides the cost of the retirement of 43 personnel, the idea was to eliminate and restructure staff to bring on further savings. We wonder, then, how they can justify employee raises and the addition of new executive employees, in this case a Deputy City Manager, as a cost saving measure. A new classification of Principal Management Analyst is also being considered at a cost of $107 thousand dollars a year.

It looks like everyone gets a bump in salary as new classifications come into play in Human Resources with a Human Resources Manager ($117,200 p/yr), and three new classifications in the Public Works Department which will gain a Deputy Director of Public Works – Engineering (141,000 p/yr), a Deputy Director Public Works – Operations ($135,600 p/yr), and a reward….er, modification to the Water Services Manager salary (129,840 p/yr). One has to wonder where the savings will be from.

The Open Session Calendar has a few interesting items as well as both the Comprehensive Annual Financial Report for last year and the Mid-Year Budget Review are both up for discussion.

The CAFR holds no real surprises other than the city attempting to justify spending of reserves due to the overall decrease in revenue from the demise of Redevelopment Agencies. The auditor does report two “material mistatements” regarding the dissolution of the redevelopment agency. They also recommend the adoption of a formal purchasing policy. The CAFR does show economic recovery in our fair city in the form of sales tax increase of the previous year. That trend should continue. I’m no accountant and won’t provide any analysis but, if you want to see it for yourself, you can find it here.

The Mid-year Budget Review is not looking so rosy. There are a total of nine requests to pull money from city funds to pay off unforeseen costs on projects. This includes seven appropriations from various reserve funds for a total of $626,798. We wonder how Team Tustin, who ran on fiscal conservancy, will justify the additional expenditures from reserves. On the bright side, the city reports an increase of $1.5 million in sales tax over what was projected. Let’s see if that pans out. According to the report, the General Fund Balance Reserve will still be above the minimum %20.

Closed Session

Conference with Legal Counsel, Initiation and Exposure to Litigation, 2 each.

Liability Claim – Andrew Cawood, Claim No. 12-31

Conference with Real Property Negotiators – O.C. Propertiy Co., Standard Pacific Homes, Regency Centers, various parcels on Tustin Legacy

Consent Calendar

Item 3 – Quarterly Investment Report – the City of Tustin and the Successor Agency for the Tustin Community Redevelopment

Item 6 – Adopt Resolution No. 13-02 – Approve lot line adjustment No. 2012-03 Bonefish Restaurant & In-n-Out Burgers

Item 7 – Approval of Plans and Specifications – Authorize advertisement for bids for park playground equipment and installation at Cedar Grove Park

Item 8 Amend the City’s Classification and Compensation Plans – Reflects new classifications and raises for other positions

Regular Business Items

Item 9 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report 2011-2012

Item 10 Fiscal Year 2012-2013 Mid-year Budget Review – Appropriation of additional reserve funds and funds from the CFD for bond debt service

Item 11 Resignation of Commissioners Upon Running for City Council – Discussion of the requirement of all city commissioners filing papers to run for city council to resign their commission seats. Council could also discuss any change in the ordinance for future elections. The recommended action would have the city attorney prepare a resolution to clarify timing of replacement procedures.

The last item could be host to an interesting discussion. Concilman Chuck Puckett was requiired to resign last year upon filing his papers for the city council election. Could this indicate a change in attitude?