2 Rate Studies, 4 Rate Consultants, 1 Recall Election, 3 Rate Rollbacks, 1 Rate Committee, 1 New City Manager, 1 New Public Works Director, 1 Public Relations Firm and 1 Report by Kennedy Jenks (And a City Council Agenda)

Livingston, California – 9/27/2013

“Always speak the truth-think before you speak-and write it down afterward.” – The Red Queen to Alice in Through the Looking Glass & What Alice Found There

If the city loses one of its existing wells, Samra said, it would have to implement severe conservation efforts, such as restricting residents from watering their lawns or asking Foster Farms to alter its production   Ramona Giwargis – Merced Sun Star, September 16, 2013 – Livingston gets water project grant amid struggle to pass balanced budget

In July 2004, the State of California Department of Health Services (CDHS) sent a letter to the City of Livingston notifying the City that the levels of 1,2,3-Trichloropropane (1,2,3-TCP) exceeded public health goals and required action by the City. In response to that letter, the City aggressively pursued potential solutions to effectively address the 1,2,3-TCP contamination issue. Staff Report, October 01, 2013 City Council Meeting Agenda Packet

Council Member Espinoza commented that there have been many complaints about the water system and a rate increase is warranted to correct the problems June 19, 2007 Draft Meeting Minutes (TGS-Bergman Rate Study- Consultant #1)

“Mayor Samra commented that making a decision is not easy for him and he agrees with all of his colleagues that something needs to happen. He said the Council will study this matter; however, not just the Council, but also the community at large needs to deal with the issue. Mayor Samra added that residents’’ concerns will be answered and he agrees that this item (Water Rate Increases) be continued January 15, 2008, Draft Meeting Minutes (TGS-Bergman Rate Study)

Motion: MS Soria/Espinoza to continue the Public Hearing to the march 4, 2008, regular Council meeting. The motion carried 4-0-1 February 05, 2008 Draft Meeting Minutes (TGS-Bergman Rate Study: Rate Consultant #1)

Gurpal Samra, a former Livingston mayor and one of the recall organizers, said he was pleased with the outcome but a little disappointed that the petition against Vierra failed. He suggested the group may try again to recall Vierra Two Livingston leaders face recall vote,  April 10, 2010 Amy Starns, Merced Sun Star.

The water rate hike is the root of the recall election that’s costing the city between $40,000 and $50,000. …But the recall effort goes beyond the water rates, (Rodrigo) Espinoza said. …Espinoza has accused Varela and Nateras of a wide range of inept or inappropriate behavior, including trying to keep business out of Livingston, which Varela adamantly denied. – Livingston: Now it’s up to voters to decide who stays, goes – August 31, 2010, Mike North, Merced Sun Star

The California Department of Public Health recently aired concerns about Livingston’s recall election and its ability to provide safe drinking water to residents…After the 2009 rate increases were abolished during Friday’s special meeting, some of the organization’s concerns have come to fruition. …In a letter from Carl Carlucci, a supervising sanitary engineer of the California Department of Public Health, to the city dated Sept. 15, concerns were raised about the recall and the utility rate increases that prompted it…."It is important for the city to understand that if the city violates any of the drinking water regulations as a result of having insufficient funds to properly operate and maintain the water system, our department will take the appropriate enforcement actions," the letter declared. Questions raised about Livingston’s ability to provide safe water, September 28, 2010, Mike North, Merced Sun Star

The combination of challenges leaves the City exposed to water rationing if existing demands repeat the 2010 and 2011 water use levels. Loss of Wells 12 and 14 would be catastrophic and without Well 16 operating the City would be unable to meet existing water commitments without implementation of water conservation measures. “City of Livingston Feasibility Analysis for a Sustainable Water Treatment Strategy”, Executive Summary, Page V, Kennedy Jenks Consultants, July 12, 2013

This post is different than others in that I’ll be quoting what others have said over the years, then wrap up with a comment or two about what it all seems to mean to me. There will also be the occasional “parenthetical comment”. You’ll be able to identify them by the TGS-included in the parentheses.

Some of you out there may think I might not be “fair” to those Council members I quote, or feel I am taking quotes out of context. That’s OK. I am loading up this post with plenty of links so you can research for yourself and make up your own minds about things like “context” and “fairness”. 

With that in mind. We will continue with

Mayor Pro Tem Vierra noted that the Council has not been able to get four votes since the year 2000, and going for another scenario is not going to get four votes. The only thing that it would accomplish is spending more money after spending $100,000.  Mr. Vierra suggested that the only other option would be to make cuts like other cities in California have done or ultimately go bankrupt like the City of Vallejo.  He stated that the City could not continue to spend money it does not have. May 05, 2009 Draft Meeting Minutes (TGS-Raftelis Rate Study – Consultant #2)

If the City Council decides to attempt to get a waiver they will have to have 50% or more of the water customers to actually vote for the waiver. In other words the water customers would have to vote to have higher levels of manganese in the water than the state water drinking standard or you have to do treatment. The preliminary cost of treatment is $1 million. There is no money in the Water Enterprise Fund to do this. June 16, 2009 Draft Meeting Minutes (TGS-Discussion of the California Department of Public Health Enforcement Letter: Manganese)

Council Member Espinoza commented that Livingston’s General Fund has already paid the Water Enterprise Fund deficit of $1.3 to $1.5 million. Therefore, the Water Enterprise Fund does not have a deficit. He thought that it was illegal for the Water Enterprise Fund to pay back the General Fund. July 07, 2009 Draft Meeting Minutes (TGS-Discussion of the Raftelis Rate Study)

Motion: M/S Varela/Vierra to adopt Resolution No. 2009-32 increasing water service rates with the selection of scenario #3 and reducing the first step of the rate increase by 15% effective August 1, 2009, and revisit the rate increases before February 1, 2010. The motion carried 3-2 by the following roll call vote: AYES: Council Members: Nateras, Varela, Vierra NOES: Council Members: Aguilar, Espinoza –Ibid (TGS-The Raftelis Rate Study – The Rate Increase that lead to the Recall)

Motion: M/S Vierra/Nateras to move forward with well-head filtering treatment for manganese in Well #15, inform the State of the City’s decision, and authorize the City Engineer to begin to work with the State to determine the most appropriate treatment process. The motion carried 4-1, with Council Member Espinoza voting no., Ibid (TGS-Enforcement Letter: Manganese – Note: as part of the aftermath of the Recall, the City did not go forward with filtering for Manganese)

Overall, the budget numbers differ little compared with last year, but the general fund — the city’s main pot of cash without strings tied to it — took a fairly substantial hit compared to last year…….The more than $15 million budget is sizably smaller than last year’s. The general fund, budgeted at more than $4 million this year was more than $5 million last fiscal year. That means the city’s general fund was budgeted down $577,000 compared to last year. Livingston avoids cuts with ‘bare bones’ budget Wednesday Aug 19, 2009 – Merced Sun Star

Ms. Herrera commented that we should not point fingers at one or two Council Members. She said at the last protest, there was a City Council Member that said we should not be listening to the other side…This is not being impartial. She said that if a City Council Member is going to be at a protest they should be impartial. She told the audience that people are using you….People in the audience shouted and yelled at Ms. Herrera and shouted her down . October 20, 2009 Meeting Minutes

Mr. Mendoza said he was here to say that our committee is finalizing the paperwork for the recall. He said the next time that we invite you guys for a meeting is because we are going to need your signature to kick these people out. November 17, 2009 Draft Meeting Minutes (TGS-Note: Mr. Mendoza: Treasure of the Recall Committee, is now a member of the Planning Commission. His brother, David, is currently on the City Council and is one of the current Council Liaisons to the Utility Rates Stakeholders Committee)

We are paying a lot for water. The money you are collecting from us is being used to pay for a new police chief who used to make less money where he lived before than what he is now making here. He is making $10,000 more here than where he lived before. Escalon is bigger than Livingston. You shouldn’t charge us more for our water use so that you can pay the new chief of police $10,000 more. Public comment from the APRIL 20, 2010 Draft Minutes

Council Member Espinoza (in Spanish) stated, “Like Council Member Aguilar just said, Mayor Varela and Council Member Martha Nateras were asked to please resign to their seat. If they resign to their seat, we are going to avoid spending money in the election coming up in two to three months and that money could be used to pay for our 4th of July event. Ibid (TGS-Rodrigo Espinoza: Candidate for Mayor: Recall Election)

Katherine Schell Rodriquez…. commented that because of State election laws and the recall committee’s choice of timing the recall cannot be combined with the June primaries or the November General Election. She said it is not Mayor Varela’s nor Council Member Nateras’ doing that is forcing this recall to be held in August. It is not Mayor Varela’s fault that there will be a mayoral election in August and again in November…. If the purpose of this recall is really only about saving money then a person would want to do everything humanly possible to get it combined with the November General Election. After all that is when we would be doing our electing anyway. She does not know who was the legal advisor for the recall committee, but she thought he or she or they or whoever missed a point on the saving the City money deal.  MAY 4, 2010 Draft Minutes

Mayor Pro-Tem Frank Vierra…Pointed out that there was a bill for $57,218.75 for the replacement of the motor and the rehabilitation of a water well. In addition, Well #15 near Starbucks had to be shut down for repairs. This caused Starbucks to close. He said that the City must have the financial resources to pay to maintain the water system and to provide continuous service to businesses in the community. JULY 6, 2010 Draft Minutes

Theresa Land…said that there will be a recall election on August 31 for Mayor Varela and Council Member Nateras. She said that she is running for City Council in the event Council Member Nateras is recalled. Ibid

Theresa Land…said she wanted to remind the citizens of the upcoming recall election on August 31. She said go to the polls and cast your vote to recall or not recall Mayor Varela and Councilwoman Nateras. Ms. Land said if you vote to recall them, then you would be asked to pick a candidate to replace them. Currently the choice for Mayor would be Councilman Rodrigo Espinoza and for Councilwoman it would be herself.  August 03, 2010 Draft Minutes

Mario Mendoza…stated he supports the recall and he is a member of the recall committee. He added that if people want to know how the recall was financed to contact him. Ibid

Council Member Aguilar congratulated those who voted. She noted it was the right of everyone to vote. Although the special recall election votes have not been certified, Ms. Aguilar congratulated Theresa Land. In addition, Ms. Aguilar noted we need to celebrate, take care of our community, and get citizens involved. September 07, 2010 Draft Minutes

Council Member Rodrigo Espinoza Thanked the community for their support of the recall. He stated he didn’t win by himself, the community helped. He said hopefully the community will come together and work together. Council Member Espinoza noted the County will certify the votes by the next meeting date. Ibid

Will take Enforcement ActionsSeptember 15, 2010 California Department of Health Letter on Water System Funding

Mayor Espinoza made the following statement, “It has been an uphill battle. The citizens made a decision August 31 and asked for a real change and with the direction of our City. I would like to thank all of the citizens…. It doesn’t matter what the paper says about the City going bankrupt. It won’t. The City will survive. September 21, 2010 Draft Meeting Minutes (TGS-as of the Date of posting, 9/27/2013, not only has the City “reorganized” and laid off staff, it is currently struggling with the passage of an Unbalanced Budget)

City Attorney Hobbs reported that on the case: Foster Poultry Farms, Inc. v. City of Livingston, et al, California Superior Court, County of Merced, Case No. CV000752., the Council voted 3-0 with 1 absence to dismiss the appeal. Ibid

Motion: M/S Aguilar/Land to adopt Resolution No. 2010-54, filling the vacancy on the City Council by the appointment of Warren Urnberg. The motion carried 3-1 September 24, 2010 Draft Special Meeting Minutes (TGS-Warren Urnberg, a leading voice of the Recall, was later appointed to be a “voting member” of the Utility Rates Stakeholders Committee. He was also eventually appointed to the Planning Commission)

Motion: M/S Aguilar/Urnberg to adopt Resolution No. 2010-56, Resolution of the City Council of the City of Livingston Repealing Resolution No. 2009-32 (Resolution of the City Council of the City of Livingston Establishing Water Service Rates). The motion carried 4-1 by the following roll call vote: – AYES: Council Members: Aguilar, Espinoza, Land, Urnberg – NOES: Council Members: Vierra – ABSENT: Council Members: None – Ibid (TGS-Rolling back the Water Rates)

 M/S Land/Urnberg to adopt Resolution No. 2010-57, Resolution of the City Council of the City of Livingston Repealing Resolution No. 2009-33 (Resolution of the City Council of the City of Livingston Establishing Domestic Wastewater Service Rates). The motion carried 4-1 by the following roll call vote: – AYES: Council Members: Aguilar, Espinoza, Land, Urnberg – NOES: Council Members: Vierra – ABSENT: Council Members: None – Ibid (TGS-Rolling back the Sewer Rates)

M/S Land/Aguilar to adopt Resolution No. 2010-58, Resolution of the City Council of the City of Livingston Repealing Resolution No. 2009-15 (Resolution of the City Council of the City of Livingston Establishing Rates for Solid Waste Service Fees). The motion carried 4-1 by the following roll call vote: – AYES: Council Members: Aguilar, Espinoza, Land, Urnberg – NOES: Council Members: Vierra – ABSENT: Council Members: None – Ibid (TGS-Rolling Back the Garbage Rates)

12. Resolution of the City Council of the City of Livingston Authorizing Direction for Outside Watering Restrictions Per Title 9, Chapter 5, Section 72 of the City of Livingston Municipal Code – M/S Espinoza/Samra to continue this item to the next meeting as a public hearing. The motion carried 4-0 November 16, 2010 Draft Meeting Minutes (TGS-Discussion about Watering Days is put off for another day)

3. Resolution of the City Council of the City of Livingston Authorizing Implementation of Outside Watering Restrictions Per Title 9, Chapter 5, Section 72, of the City of Livingston Municipal Code – Mayor Espinoza and Council Member Samra asked that this item be continued. December 07, 2010 Draft Meeting Minutes(TGS-Discussion about Watering Days is put off for yet another day-month-year-whatever)

M/S Aguilar/Espinoza to adopt Resolution No. 2010-66, Authorizing the Acting City Manager to Prepare and Distribute a Request for Proposals (RFP) to Initiate Water, Wastewater and Solid Waste Rate Studies Pursuant to Proposition 218. The motion carried 4-0 – Ibid (TGS-To Hire a New Rate Study Consultant)

Council Person Samra: What I’m asking the Council, and 3 of us can do this, this time. We’re not appointing any people to sit on there right now, is to basically do an advertisement for the Business Community, for the Educational Community, the School Districts because they’re also one of the large users too, and Citizens at large that would want to participate in the early process to work with the city Staff and with our Consultant, to hear the issues, find the solutions, and have different ideas that we may not think of. That way, we all work on this together. So I’m asking that we give the direction to the Staff to put this out on Channel 2, on the City Web-Site so if interested persons can submit their names to be considered on the Stakeholders Committee. – February 15, 2011 Discussion: Utility Rate Stakeholders Committee (TGS-Wouldn’t that mean that there would be no excuses when the Final Numbers Finally Came out. You would think. We’ll see.)

M/S Samra/Espinoza to adopt Resolution No. 2011-17, a Resolution of the City Council of the City of Livingston Awarding a Professional Services Contract to Provide Water, Wastewater and Solid Waste Rate Studies, Community Outreach and Proposition 18 Balloting Services to Bartle Wells Associates, Inc. of Berkeley, California and Authorizing the Acting City Manager to Execute the Agreement. The motion carried 4-1 by the following roll call vote: – AYES: Council Members: Aguilar, Espinoza, Land, Samra – NOES: Council Members: Vierra – ABSENT: Council Members: None  – March 10, 2011 Draft Meeting Minutes (TGS-Rate Consultant #3)

14. City Council to Provide Staff Direction for Appointments to the Utility Rates Stakeholders Committee. — Interim City Manager Lewis noted this item is being brought back to Council for further direction…there were a total of eight individuals that submitted letters of interest. There is representation from Foster Farms, Livingston Union School District, Merced Union High School District and five members from the community……Interim City Manager Lewis noted that the representatives from those named industries would be representing their respective employer. April 05, 2011 Draft Meeting Minutes (TGS-1 Rate Committee)

M/S Aguilar/Samra to adopt Resolution No. 2011-25, appointing the representatives from the three sectors and Claire Gerhman and Warren Urnberg to the committee and continue to recruit for representation from the commercial side. The motion carried 5-0 by the following roll call vote: – AYES: Council Members: Aguilar, Espinoza, Land, Samra, Vierra  – NOES: Council Members: None – ABSENT: Council Members: None – Ibid

Resolution 2011-32 Includes Complete CommitteeM/S Aguilar/Samra Appointing Albert Arias to the Utility Rates Stakeholders Committee. The motion carried 5-0 by the following roll call vote: – AYES: Council Members: Aguilar, Espinoza, Land, Samra, Vierra – NOES: Council Members: None – ABSENT: Council Members: NoneMay 03, 2011 Draft Meeting Minutes

9. Resolution Awarding Construction Contract to Shannon Pump Company, Merced, California, Approving the Expenditure of Construction Funds for the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant (EECBG) – Replacement of Motors at Water Wells 8,9,11 and 13 – Grant No. CBG- 09-093 and Authorizing the Interim City Manager to Execute a Construction Contract and Any Change Orders Thereto with Shannon Pump Company – This item was pulled from the agenda and continued to the next regular meeting.MAY 17, 2011 Draft Minutes

5. Resolution Awarding Construction Contract to Shannon Pump Company, Merced, California, Approving the Expenditure of Construction Funds for the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant (EECBG) – Replacement of Motors at Water Wells 8,9,11 and 13 – Grant No. CBG-09-093 and Authorizing the Interim City Manager to Execute a Construction Contract and Any Change Orders Thereto with Shannon Pump Company.–This item was continued to the next regular meeting June 07, 2011 Draft Minutes (TGS-Continued?)

Motion: M/S Land/Aguilar to approve the Agreement for Employment and Appointment of Jose Antonio Ramirez as the City Manager and authorize the Mayor to execute the agreement. The motion carried 4-1 by the following roll call vote: – AYES: Council Members: Aguilar, Espinoza, Land, Samra  – NOES: Council Members: Vierra – ABSENT: Council Members: None. – June 17, 2011 Draft Minutes 

5. Resolution No. 2011-50 Awarding Construction Contract to Shannon Pump Company, Merced, California, Approving the Expenditure of Construction Funds for the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant (EECBG) – Replacement of Motors at Water Wells 8,9,11 and 13 – Grant No. CBG-09-093 and Authorizing the Interim City Manager to Execute a Construction Contract and Any Change Orders Thereto with Shannon Pump Company – Motion: M/S Vierra/Aguilar to approve consent agenda items 4, 5, and 7. The motion carried 5-0July 19, 2011 Draft Minutes (TGS-finally passed as part of the Consent Calendar)

6. Resolution No. 2011-53, Awarding a Professional Engineering Services Contract for Water Treatment at the City Water Supply Well No. 8 to AECOM, Fresno, California, and Authorizing the City Manager to Execute the Agreement –Public Works Superintendent Kathryn Reyes stated that she mailed out the notices on July 1, 2011. She commented that when they started monitoring the wells in 2004 for this contamination, when City Council was notified of it, then every year after that the public was notified, is all in a Consumers Report. She added that health language was included in those notices.-City Manager Ramirez asked do you see anything actually happening on the horizon——-Superintendent Reyes noted that at this time, there is a public health goal which is .7 parts per trillion which the City exceeds in every well. Also there is no maximum contamination level yet, but the state anticipates having one fairly soon which according to state terms could mean anywhere from 1-10 years. She added that unfortunately the City water system could be impacted.——-City Manager Ramirez commented that AECOM is a very big company that has acquired a lot of smaller engineering companies, so they have the expertise.——–Council Member Samra commented that one of the first steps was to deal with the many water issues and this firm is reputable. Therefore, he suggested that the City move forward so that the citizens could see that the City was going to clean up their water quality.——–Motion: M/S Samra/Vierra to approve consent agenda item No. 6. The motion carried 5-0 by the following roll call vote: –AYES: Council Members: Espinoza, Aguilar, Land, Samra, Vierra–NOES: Council Members: None–ABSENT: Council Members: NoneAugust 02, 2011 Draft Minutes (TGS-TCP Filtration System)

’All of the wells have 123 TCP levels substantially above the public health goal and the highest levels of 123 TCP are from wells 8, 14 and 12. Well 15 has Manganese and Arsenic levels above the MCLs. Nitrate levels were above the MCL for wells 8 and 14. DBCP was detected above the reporting limit of 0.01 µg /l in wells 8, 9 and 14 and the remaining wells were non-detect for DBCP.” RFP – PROFESSIONAL ENGINEERING SERVICES TO PREPARE A FEASIBILITY ANALYSIS REPORT FOR A CENTRALIZED WATER TREATMENT STRATEGY FOR THE CITY WATER SUPPLY – November 28, 2011

Katherine Schell Rodriquez… stated that in March of this year the Council voted 4-1 to hire Bartels to provide water, wastewater and solid waste rate studies, community outreach and Proposition 218 balloting services… and according to the project schedule and timeline provided by the consultant we should have had public meetings on this already. …did someone decide to cancel the whole darn thing without putting it on the agenda and what is coming next.——-City Manager Ramirez responded that he came on board August 1 of this year and there have been three different meetings with the consultants. He said as they met there was some information that staff was not comfortable with and they felt it was prudent for us to end the contract. Mr. Ramirez added that staff recently sent out an RFP and that will come to Council with a recommendation of a new rate consultant and in addition the $9 million dollars that the City received is being analyzed. He noted that as soon as there is a new consultant on board the stakeholders meetings will resume so that we can have solid information and we are expecting to move quickly.December 06, 2011 Draft Meeting Minutes (TGS-Dismissal of Rate Consultant #3 and the search begins for Rate Consultant #4)

Warren Urnberg… commented that we need to go back to restricted watering days – Mayor Espinoza stated that we would probably see that item on an upcoming agenda. – Council Member Samra said he didn’t recall rescinding the watering days. Mayor Espinoza added that we would do more research and put it on an agenda in the futureJanuary 03, 2012 Draft Meeting Minutes (TGS-Yep. After putting this discussion off a time or two already, We need to do even more research)

Public Works Superintendent Reyes gave an update on Well 16; it is a permitted well. The City does have a current permit to produce water and the state has not threatened to intervene. There is an arsenic removal system on that well and Public Works will be spending the next few months changing out the filter media. She stated the well is in good standing. January 17, 2012 Draft Minutes

City Engineer Gottiparthy explained that the developer was required to install the well and also install the required treatment equipment for arsenic. Ibid

Motion: M/S Samra/Espinoza to adopt Resolution No. 2012-7 Accepting the Dedication of Lot “C” and Water Well Improvements (Well No. 16) on Lot “C” of Country Lane Subdivision as Shown on the Final Map for Country Lane Subdivision and Authorizing the City Manager to Release the Surety Bonds for Water Well Improvements by Livingston Country Lane, L.L.P., a California Corporation.–AYES: Council Members: Espinoza, Land, Aguilar, Vierra and Samra–NOES: Council Members: None–ABSENT: Council Members: None—Ibid (TGS-You would think that, by having voted on this item, all involved would understand that this well has an Arsenic Issue that will have to be addressed on a regular basis. You would think.)

City Manager Ramirez (stated) that the City received three proposals for the rate consultants and the decision has yet to be made. City staff is taking the three proposals in addition to the feasibility proposals to the Stakeholders Committee and sharing that information with them.—Ibid (Mayor Pro-Temp Margarita Aguilar and Councilmember Gurpal Samra are both Council Liaisons to the the Utility Rates Stakeholders Committee at this time. This means any information presented to the Committee is also presented to them. Whatever the Committee knows – they also know. Right?)

City Engineer Nanda Gottiparthy reported on the Utility Stakeholders Committee which was also attended by Council Member Samra and Mayor Pro-Tem Aguilar. The Committee met and discussed the five consultant proposals that were received. Two finalists were invited to come back and make presentations. After the presentations, there was a question and answer session and after further discussion, Kennedy/Jenks Consultants was selected by the Committee and they recommended that their selection be presented to the City Council for their approval. February 07, 2012 Draft Minutes

Mayor Espinoza commented that with the selection of the consultant, the Committee will be looking at the water rate structure and possibly raising water rates. Ibid (Possibly?!?)

4. Resolution No. 2012-14, Awarding a Professional Engineering Services Contract to Prepare a Feasibility Analysis Report for a Centralized Water Treatment Strategy for the City’s Water Supply to Kennedy/Jenks Consultants, Portland, Oregon and Authorizing the City Manager to Execute the Agreement, February 21, 2012 Draft Meeting Minutes. (TGS-passed 5-0 on the Consent Calendar)

3. Resolution No. 2012-30 Awarding a Professional Services Contract to Provide Water, Wastewater and Solid Waste Utility Rate Studies, Community Outreach and Proposition 218 Balloting Services to Hansford Economic Consulting (HEC) Truckee, California and Authorizing the City Manager to Execute the Agreement, APRIL 17, 2012 Draft Minutes, Passed 4-0 on the Consent Calendar (TGS-Rate Consultant #4)

City Engineer Gottiparthy gave an update…. Regarding Well #16, he said the pilot study is completed and we have the report and have notified the media that it is likely to be more cost effective. Also, in regards to Well #8 the preliminary design report comments have been sent back to the consultant. There is a delay in the design process and he has talked to the consultant to identify the cause for the delay. So far the site layout has been completed, right of way maps prepared, the appraisal report for the project has been completed and we have secured approval from Foster Farms for the land area. MAY 15, 2012 Draft Minutes

Mayor Espinoza…requested to put the restricted watering days on an agenda in the future for discussion. Ibid (TGS-When, in the future, will this actually happen? Should I be taking bets?)

Council Member Samra suggested to maybe having a Plan B. Talk to a neighboring city to borrow their employee. Maybe Atwater has someone doing this.–City Manager Ramirez said that was a good suggestion. On the wastewater side Foster Farms mentioned that we could ask them for assistance. –Motion: M/S Espinoza/Land to approve the Director of Public Works job description with modifications and to advertise for 30 days. –The motion carried 3-1 by the following roll call vote:–AYES: Council Members: Espinoza, Land, and Samra–NOES: Council Members: Vierra–ABSENT: Council Members: Aguilar May 22, 2012 Draft Meeting Minutes

1. City Council to Approve a Sixth Month Interim Solid Waste Contract with Sunset Waste Systems.——–City Manager Ramirez tabled this item. He also introduced representatives with Sunset Waste.–Mayor Espinoza shared that Gilton Solid Waste contacted the City at the last minute and decided to go with a month to month contract until the City went out for Requests for Proposals (RFPs). JUNE 12, 2012 Draft Minutes

Motion: M/S Espinoza/Land to approve a Six Month Interim Extension for Solid Waste Contract with Gilton Solid Waste Management, Inc. and Authorize the City Manager to Solicit a Request for Proposals.—The motion carried 3-0 by the following roll call vote:—AYES: Council Members: Espinoza, Land, and Samra—NOES: Council Members: None—ABSENT: Council Members: Aguilar, Vierra JUNE 19, 2012 Draft Minutes

City Engineer Gottiparthy gave an update on Well No.16. They had a meeting with two bidders on the media. They evaluated 5 media for arsenic and sent those to UC Davis and there are two types of media. Also a cost analysis was done for the life of the media. The analysis looks good and they will bring that back to the City Council after taking it to the Stakeholders Committee. They have asked all bidders to go back and look at their capital costs. July 3, 2012 Draft Meeting Minutes

5. Resolution No. 2012-52 for the Acceptance of the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant (EECBG) – Grant No. CBG-09-093- “Replacement of Motors at Water Wells 8,9,11 and 13”, and “Citywide Streetlight Retrofit Project”, Authorizing the City Clerk to Record Notices of Completion with Merced County and Authorizing the City Manager to Release Performance and Material Bonds and to Make Final Payment of Retention Monies to Shannon Pump Company and to Tennyson Electric, Inc. JULY 17, 2012 Draft Minutes (TGS-passed 4-0 on the Consent Calendar)

Warren Urnberg…….asked if the watering days were being worked on and getting set-upAugust 7, 2012 Draft Meeting Minutes (TGS-You do know that if the Mayor REALLY wanted that on the Agenda, it would be on the Agenda. Right?)

5. Resolution to Award a Professional Services Contract for Providing Community Outreach and Proposition 218 Balloting Services to GoodStanding Outreach, Reno, Nevada and Authorizing the City Manager to Execute the Agreement Motion: M/S Aguilar/Espinoza to move Item No. 5 to the next meeting. The motion carried 5-0 August 21, 2012 Draft Meeting Minutes. (TGS-Public Relations Firm) (TGS-Continue-Move-Postpone-Just different ways to say the Same thing)

Motion: M/S Espinoza/Aguilar to adopt Resolution No. 2012-63 approving the Employment Agreement between the City of Livingston and Humberto Molina for the Position of Public Works Director. The motion carried 4-0 September 4, 201 Draft Meeting Minutes..(TGS-This means A New City Manager, AND a New Public Works Director hired by the Post Recall City Council)

Mayor Pro-Tem Aguilar commented that on the second paragraph of the staff report where it refers to background information, it says this was part of the Stakeholders Committee proposal. Ms. Handsford recommended GoodStanding being that she had worked with them. She brought them forward to the Stakeholders Committee and they listened to the presentation and asked questions and the committee members came to the conclusion that it should go to the City Council for them to decide if they wanted to support Ms. Handsford’s recommendation. October 2, 2012 Draft Meeting Minutes

Mayor’s Report He wants to make sure the public knows that the quality of the drinking water in Livingston is safe to drink. There have been several articles in the newspaper stating the contrary, but that is just people trying to push politically attempting to make the City and the City Council look bad. The City Manager and Public Works Director met with the State Water Quality Control Board and they stated the water is safe to drink. Ibid

(Mayor Espinoza) elucidated on the $9 Million settlement the City received as a result of the TCP class action lawsuit filed in 2005-2006. In the early 30’s and 40’s Dow Chemical and Shell Oil sold chemicals as fumigants to farmers and these chemicals went into our drinking water. All throughout the United States, there are issues with TCP and other contaminants in the drinking water and that is one of the reasons that the City joined a class action lawsuit. Eventually, the City prevailed and received a $9 Million settlement. This money is now being used to fix the City’s water wells and for water treatment in the community. Ibid (TGS-So if the water is safe to drink, then why was the City worried about chemicals going into the drinking water and why did the City sue Dow? And why would we need that money for water treatment. Just sayin.)

M/S Samra/Aguilar to adopt Resolution No. 2012-67 to Award the Professional Services Contract for Providing Community Outreach and Proposition 218 Balloting Services to GoodStanding Outreach of Reno, Nevada and Authorize the City Manager to Execute the Agreement. The Motion carried 4-1 by the following roll call vote:…AYES Council Members: Aguilar, Espinoza, Land, and Samra…NOES: Council Members: Vierra…ABSENT: Council Members: None. Ibid (TGS-1 Public Relations Firm hired. If there are no problems with the Water System, why is the City even thinking about needing a Public Relations firm?)

8. Resolution to Award a Contract to Filtronics, Inc. of Anaheim, California for Goods and Services Provided to Change Out the Arsenic Removal Media for the Well 16 Arsenic Removal Treatment Systems and Authorizing the City Manager to Execute the Agreement. Continued to next regularly scheduled meeting October 16, 2012 Draft Meeting Minutes.  (TGS-There’s that word “continued” again. You do know, that without a working filtration system, that well can’t be used.)

Council Member Samra: The Stakeholders Committee discussed this in great length on more than one occasion and in the end they made the same recommendation as staff based on cost and the fact that this media is widely available where in the past they were limited to one particular manufacturer. Those were the only concerns they had. If Council wants to bring all vendors onboard and listen to them, they are welcome to, but he doesn’t think that is necessary because the Stakeholders Committee spent more than one meeting on this. OCTOBER 30, 2012 Special Meeting Draft Minutes (TGS-Keep in mind that Both Mayor Pro-Temp Aguilar and Council Member Samra were also at, or should have been at, those meetings and although they were not “voting members” of the committee, they would not just sit there silently. They made their fair share of comments and suggestions.)

Mike Torres, 1616 Eighth Street asked what would happen if the 50 plus one is a protest vote for the resolution and what the timeline is if the City moves forward and approves this. January 15, 2013 Draft Meeting Minutes

City Attorney Sanchez responded that at this point staff would look at all the documents again. He said usually this doesn’t happen, but if it did they would start working on it right away to see if we could put something before the property owners. The biggest issue is the rate increases because they just elect the cost. If increased rates are not approved then there would be a reduction in service and that is our biggest concern. Ibid  (TGS-s0 the New City Attorney is talking about possible reductions in service. Interesting.)

Motion: M/S Sicairos/Soria to adopt Resolution No. 2013-2 of the City Council of the City of Livingston Adopting Guidelines for the Submission and Tabulation of Protests Pursuant to Article XIIID of the California Constitution (Proposition 218). The motion carried 4-0 by the following roll call vote:….AYES: Council Members: Samra, Soria, Mendoza, and Sicairos …..NOES: Council Members: None…..ABSENT: Council Members: Espinoza Ibid

City Manager Ramirez:…Again in the last six weeks we have had some issues with microorganisms in the water. This means it does not affect you health wise, but aesthetically you get brown or red water, so this builds up in areas where you have lines that are not used. There was a particular line that was shut off years ago and when we found that it was closed we turned it on and there was some buildup of manganese and iron. We are working closely with Foster Farms and are trying to address this problem when Foster Farms is not in production, so it is going to require a lot of team work. February 05, 2013 Draft Meeting Minutes (TGS-Water Quality Problems. Oops!)

City Manager Ramirez stated that he has been working with Foster Farms as they have been experiencing more manganese in the water that shut down an entire shift; there is a meeting scheduled for tomorrow morning. February 19, 2013 Draft Meeting Minutes

(In response to a question about applying for a grant to bring Well #17 online) City Manager Ramirez responded that we have chosen this well that has not been constructed because we need the additional capacity. He added that even if we were to have future development and we were to pay for it up front that doesn’t take away from any future developers actually contributing. So rather than waiting for someone to come in we are being proactive and trying to bring another well online. April 2, 2013 Draft Meeting Minutes (TGS-So…we need the additional capacity? What’s wrong with the capacity we have?)

(In Response to some water quality related questions, City Manager Ramirez responded)In regards to the feasibility study, basically a draft has been out. There has been several questions that MID, the City Engineer and California Department of Public Health has had, so Kennedy Jenks is basically addressing all of those issues so that we can have a revised draft that we can send out again to the Stakeholders Committee and the City Council and then have the final draft hopefully by mid-May or sooner…..· With regards to Well #8 TCP, 90% of the design has already been approved and moved forward on Well #8. Staff has received comments from the California Department of Health. There is an issue with actual disposal of water with some of the nitrates, so that’s also some of the State issues they are addressing. April 16, 2013 Draft Meeting Minutes

(City Manager Ramirez Reported) The one million gallon water tank in the City needs painting. They are analyzing that further to see if it can be done further down the road or needs to be addressed this next year. We are looking at fire protection and some other things. Ibid

City Manager Ramirez added that the City recently received a letter regarding Well #13, discussing the arsenic levels (10). The City is working hard to compile this information by June 30th. May 21, 2013 Draft Meeting Minutes (TGS-Uh-Oh. Does this count as a “problem”)

Public Works Director: Well #13 was out of commission for several years for different reasons…We brought it back online recently in April and unfortunately it came up with some high numbers for Arsenic. After looking back at the history of that well it actually has had problems going back to 2009..one of our sample results was 12.9 and the other was 11.9: which puts us over the top. We can’t exceed 10……Even if we got a sample below 10 for the next 3 quarters, there’s no way we’re going to get below 10…We’re going to have to look at what we’re going to do about the well. Eventually, if it keeps going like this, than there’s probably a different order that’s going to be coming down. Utility Rates Stakeholders Committee Meeting. June 03, 2013 

City Manager Ramirez: States that the compliance order came from California’s Department of Public Health. In this order there is a list of 20 items that need to be corrected. However, there are four items that deserve extra attention and that includes; 1) Creating a 5 year capital improvement plan, 2) Enacting a water conservation plan which would require Council passing a resolution and community outreach, 3) Cleaning a tank that has been afflicted by corrosion, and 4) adjusting EPA’s well testing frequencies from every 3 years to every 3 months……Moreover, Well #15 is going over the maximum contaminant level by one tenth, thus currently at a state of 9.9. Quoted received for Well #13 indicated that it will cost over $200,000.00 to address the media. These wells are needed for production purposes; it is because of this that the Department of Public Health is willing to work with Livingston. The standard for arsenic levels in 2008 was 15 parts per billion now it has dropped to 10 parts per billion. Because of this Livingston will have to create another well, Well #17 as a back up well. Nevertheless, Well #8 is seeing progress along with Well # 16. The City must take strategic steps to address water quality issues and that includes creating short-term, mid-term, and long-term goals. The City continues looking for resources. In particular the City is currently looking for grant opportunities via the National Rural Association. To make Livingston a more competitive applicant for grants and loans, the City must first address the budget deficit. JUNE 04, 2013 Draft Minutes (TGS-Address the Deficit? What Deficit? Weren’t we told there WAS no Deficit?)

…I think…the community deserves to be informed… every city around the valley has this issue with wells and we’re no different than that. And, of course, we’re trying to address all these issues with the stakeholders and the future water rates we’re gonna be addressing, and doing wellhead treatments on all the wells…But, of course, this information was already sent out to the public as to the compliance issue: the wells, with the water…I know that the city manager will do the best that he can to address those issues. Mayor Rodrigo Espinoza (TGSExcerpted from June 04, 2013 City Council Meeting Video. Excerpted from June 04, 2013 City Council Meeting Video. You can check it out for yourself by going to the City’s Website.)

Mayor Espinoza announced that the Council is thinking about implementing watering days. In the past Livingston would restrict residents to watering their lawn every other day. The days that residents watered their lawn depended on the last digit of their address, whether it was an odd or even number.June 18, 2013 Draft Meeting Minutes (TGS-Seems like the Council has been doing several years worth of thinking about this already.)

City Manager Ramirez added that the City is looking at addressing its water quality issues. Improving water quality is a very expensive process and one thing that the City can do to alleviate this burden to taxpayers is to apply for grants or state revolving loans that could help fund necessary improvements. July 16, 2013 Draft Meeting Minutes (TGS-But to better qualify for the Big Ones, we first have to address that non-existing Deficit. Right?)

"The Council is not told ‘You know, what? If we can spend a little bit more, it’ll be a good reliable system that will last a long time. And sometimes, the manager does not agree with us. Sometimes, I think that you should come in to the Council sometimes so that way we can talk, you know, with us in Open Session to discuss that. Because we want to make sure that we’re getting the best thing that we have, what will last, a system that will last a while. You don’t want to cut costs on a few things, for something that’s not going to last." Mayor Espinoza to City Engineer Nanda Gottiparthy regarding Well #16. September 03, City Council Meeting Video (TGS – The Draft Meeting Minutes for this Meeting are not out yet. Go to the City’s Website, click on the link for Archived Meeting Videos and watch the video from about 8 minutes in.)

OK. SO ONCE UPON A TIME, BACK IN 2004

In July 2004, the State of California Department of Health Services (CDHS) sent a letter to the City of Livingston notifying the City that the levels of 1,2,3-Trichloropropane (1,2,3-TCP) exceeded public health goals and required action by the City.

AND

In response to that letter, the City aggressively pursued potential solutions to effectively address the 1,2,3-TCP contamination issue. Staff Report, October 01, 2013 City Council Meeting Agenda Packet (TGS-Which included Suing Dow Chemical Corp in 2005 BTW)

THEN IN 2007

Council Member Espinoza commented that there have been many complaints about the water system and a rate increase is warranted to correct the problems June 19, 2007 Draft Meeting Minutes

THEN IN 2008

“Mayor Samra commented that making a decision is not easy for him and he agrees with all of his colleagues that something needs to happen. He said the Council will study this matter; however, not just the Council, but also the community at large needs to deal with the issue. Mayor Samra added that residents’’ concerns will be answered and he agrees that this item (Water Rate Increases) be continued January 15, 2008, Draft Meeting Minutes

THEN IN 2009,

AFTER YET ANOTHER RATE STUDY, Rate Increases were passed, which lead to lawsuits, and a recall, and a New Council, a New City Manager, A New City Attorney, a New Public Works Director, a Utility Rates Stakeholders Committee, and a New Set of Consultants.

AND AS TIME CONTINUED TO PASS

THE CALIFORNIA DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH issued an Enforcement Letter about Manganese, a Warning Letter about Water System Funding,  a Compliance order for Failing the Arsenic Maximum Contaminant Level Standards, and a Water System Inspection Report with a long list of things it wants addressed.

AND

KENNEDY-JENKS, THE CONSULTANTS RECOMMENDED BY THE UTILITY RATES STAKEHOLDERS COMMITTEE has issued its report: which says, among other things:

  • The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) has identified TCP as a contaminant of concern and is in the process of developing a MCL (Maximum Contaminant Level)….It is expected that an MCL…may be in place as soon as 2016 with enforcement required by 2018.

  • All of the City wells have TCP levels substantially about the estimated MCL…and remain some of the highest in the state. Two of the wells (12 and 14) produce water with TCP Levels exceeding the response level, the level at which CDPH recommends that the source be removed from service.

  • All City wells contain manganese with Well 15 above the Secondary Maximum Contaminant Level (SMCL)…and the future Well 17 is just over the SMCL…The City has been advised that a short-term waiver process may be pursued to allow for additional time to implement improvements and that this waiver process includes demonstration of public support of continued delivery of water with manganese above the SMCL.

  • The combination of challenges leaves the City exposed to water rationing if existing demands repeat the 2010 and 2011 water use levels. Loss of Wells 12 and 14 would be catastrophic and without Well 16 operating the City would be unable to meet existing water commitments without implementation of water conservation measures.

  •  

SO WHERE AM I GOING WITH THIS? I’m going to go out on a limb just a tad and offer this opinion. I think we have, and have had, two different “camps” of people who have managed to get themselves elected to City Council over the years.

  • Those who did not believe our Water System has some real issues which would only get worse with time.

  • Those that understood/understand quite well that there are Real Issues to be addressed, but were unwilling to take the Political Hit for making it clear to the public just what those issues are, and how expensive those issues are to fix.

Because the message put out during the Run Up To The Recall went along the lines of “These Rates are Unwarranted and Unnecessary. The water isn’t that bad. The System isn’t that broken. Once we get in, we will get rid of everyone who was telling us all those lies about having to spend a lot of money to get our System Fixed. Once we get rid of “them” and get in people of our choosing, we will find out once and for all that the problem really isn’t that big, that bad, and that expensive after all.”

Well..what is actually happening is this: the New City Manager, and the New Public Works Director and the New Consultants are NOT saying “The problems with the System aren’t really that expensive to fix”. In fact, what they are saying is something quite the opposite.

And they are also saying that in order to qualify for the Grants and Low Interest Loans the City would need to do most of the work, it would have to pass rates that not only pay back the Deficit in the Water Enterprise Fund, but also starts building up a few months worth of cash as an Operating Reserve.

But we have at least 1 member of the Council who does not believe in paying  back the Deficit.

Add to that the fact that the Post Recall City Council has made it quite clear that it will take at least a 4-1 vote to pass any kind of Water Rate Increase.

Rate Consultant #4 has not yet supplied numbers for the next round of Proposition 218 Water Rate Hearings. These numbers should be going before the Utility Rates Stakeholders Committee in the next few weeks or so. First, The Committee will have its chance to shred (I mean “approve”) everything before passing its recommendations along to the City Council.

This is what: The end of September 2013? In November 2014 it will be time to elect a Mayor and at least one Councilperson. With the way things are dragging on (again) I can’t help but wonder if either the Rate Increase Issue will be put off until after the elections (again).

Or if some members of the council will go on a serious hunt (again), to find someone else upon which to pin the blame for Unreasonable Rate Increases.

And Now On to the

CITY COUNCIL SPECIAL MEETING /

REGULAR MEETING AGENDA

OCTOBER 1, 2013

SPECIAL MEETING: 5:30 P.M.

REGULAR MEETING: 7:00 P.M.

Notice is hereby given that the City Council will hold a Special Meeting / Regular Meeting on October 1, 2013, at the City Council Chambers, 1416 C Street, Livingston, California. Persons with disabilities who may need assistance should contact the Deputy City Clerk at least 24 hours prior to this meeting at (209) 394-8041, Ext. 121. Any writings or documents pertaining to an Open Session item provided to a majority of the members of the legislative body less than 72 hours prior to the meeting shall be made available for public inspection at Livingston City Hall, 1416 C Street. The Special Meeting will begin at 5:30 p.m. and the Regular Meeting at 7:00 p.m. The agenda shall be as follows:

Special Meeting

1. Call to Order.

2. Roll Call

CLOSED SESSION

A “Closed” or “Executive” Session of the City Council or the Successor Agency to the Redevelopment Agency of the City of Livingston may be held in accordance with state law which may include, but is not limited to, the following types of items: personnel matters, labor negotiations, security matters, providing instructions to real property negotiators, conference with legal counsel regarding pending litigation. The Closed Session will be held in the City Council Chambers located at 1416 C Street, Livingston, California. Any public comment on Closed Session items will be taken before the Closed Session. Any required announcements or discussion of Closed Session items or actions following the Closed Session will be made in the City Council Chambers, 1416 C Street, Livingston, California.

3. Conference with Legal Counsel – Potential Litigation

[(Government Code Section 54956.9(d)(2)]

Number of Cases: 3

4. Conference with Labor Negotiator

(Government Code Section 54957.6)

Labor Negotiator: City Manager Jose Antonio Ramirez

Employee Organizations: All Represented City Employees

DISCUSSION AND POTENTIONAL ACTION ITEM

5. City Engineer Interview – Provost and Pritchard Consulting Group.

Regular Meeting

CALL TO ORDER

Pledge of Allegiance. Next Resolution Number: 2013-48

Next Ordinance Number: 608

Roll Call.

Closed Session Announcements

Changes to the Agenda.

AWARDS, PRESENTATIONS, APPOINTMENTS AND PROCLAMATIONS

1. John Bidwell, Program Manager, Quantum Energy Services and Technologies (QUEST): California Wastewater Process Optimization Program (CALPOP).

ANNOUNCEMENTS AND REPORTS

Supervisor John Pedrozo Announcements and Reports.

City Staff Announcements and Reports.

City Manager Announcements and Reports.

City Council Members’ Announcements and Reports.

Mayor’s Announcements and Reports.

CITIZEN COMMENTS

This section of the agenda allows members of the public to address the City Council on any item NOT otherwise on the agenda. Members of the public, when recognized by the Mayor, should come forward to the lectern, and identify themselves. Comments are normally limited to three (3) minutes. In accordance with State Open Meeting Laws, no action will be taken by the City Council this evening. For items which are on the agenda this evening members of the public will be provided an opportunity to address the City Council as each item is brought up for discussion.

CONSENT CALENDAR

Items on the Consent Calendar are considered routine or non-controversial and will be enacted by one vote, unless separate action is requested by the City Manager or City Council Member. There will be no separate discussion of these items unless members of the City Council or City Manager request that specific items be removed.

2. Resolution Awarding Construction Contract to FBD Vanguard Construction, Inc., Livermore, CA, Approving the Expenditure of Construction Funds for the CMAQ Pedestrian Improvement Sidewalk Installation Project – Project No. CML-5256 (012) and Authorizing the City Manager to Execute a Construction Contract and Any Change Orders Thereto with FBD Vanguard Construction, Inc.

3. Resolution Awarding Construction Contract to Conco West, Inc. of Manteca, CA; Approving the Expenditure of Construction Funds for the Well No. 8 Wellhead Treatment System and Authorizing the City Manager to Execute a Construction Contract and Any Change Orders Thereto with Conco West, Inc.

4. Approval of Warrant Register Dated September 26, 2013.

DISCUSSION AND POTENTIAL ACTION ITEMS

5. Resolution Approving a Professional Services Agreement to Provide Contract Engineering Staff Support Services for the City of Livingston and Authorizing the City Manager to Execute the Agreement in a Form Acceptable to the City Attorney.

6. Resolution Approving a Land Lease Agreement Between the City of Livingston and Gerald Martin for Property Known as 15036 Vinewood Avenue, APN Numbers 047-140-006 and 047-140-0017.

ADJOURNMENT

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One thought on “2 Rate Studies, 4 Rate Consultants, 1 Recall Election, 3 Rate Rollbacks, 1 Rate Committee, 1 New City Manager, 1 New Public Works Director, 1 Public Relations Firm and 1 Report by Kennedy Jenks (And a City Council Agenda)

  1. Pingback: Arsenic and Lawsuits, Workshops and Hearings; A Clean Up/Abatement Order from the Water Board, and a City Council Agenda | Thegardeningsnail's Weblog (because not every critter is hiding under a rock...)

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