CLOSED SESSION/REGULAR MEETING
LIVINGSTON CITY COUNCIL
SEPTEMBER 18, 2007
A Closed Session/Regular Meeting of the Livingston City Council was held in the City Council Chambers on September 18, 2007, with Mayor Samra presiding.
The meeting was opened by Mayor Samra at 5:32 p.m.
Mayor Gurpal Samra
Mayor Pro-Tem William Ingram
Council Member Frank Vierra
Council Member Rodrigo Espinoza
Council Member Roy Soria
The Council went into Closed Session at 5:33 p.m. to discuss the following matters:
1. Conference with Legal Counsel: Existing Litigation—Government Code Section 54956.9(a). Foster Poultry Farms, Inc. v. City of Livingston, Merced County Superior Case No. 149443.
2. Conference with Legal Counsel: Existing Litigation—Government Code Section 54956.9(a). City of Livingston v. Foster Poultry Farms, Inc., Merced County Superior Court Case No. 149647.
3. Conference with Legal Counsel: Existing Litigation—Government Code Section 54956.9(a). Foster Poultry Farms, Inc. v. Richard Warne & Paul Creighton, United States District Court, Eastern District Court of California: 1:06-CV-00931-OWW-DLB.
4. Conference with Real Property Negotiator—Government Code Section 54956.8.
Property: Director’s Deed # 00801-01-01, # 00802-01-01 (4 parcels).
Negotiating Parties: City Manager Richard N. Warne and City Attorney Tom Hallinan.
Under Negotiation: Purchase Price.
5. Conference with Labor Negotiator—Government Code Section 54957.6.
Agency Negotiator: City Manager Richard N. Warne.
Employee Organization: Livingston Police Officers’ Association.
6. Conference with Legal Counsel—Anticipated Litigation. Significant Exposure to Litigation. Government Code 54956.9(b). 3 Cases.
The Closed Session ended at 7:02 p.m.
The Council came out of Closed Session and into Open Session at 7:03 p.m.
CALL TO ORDER
Mayor Samra called the meeting to order at 7:06 p.m.
PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE
The pledge of allegiance was recited.
CLOSED SESSION ANNOUNCEMENTS
Mayor Samra announced that at a Special Meeting held September 17, 2007, the Council voted 5-0 to use monies allocated for Council health benefits for employee pay raises. All employees, with the exception of Police Department employees, received a 3.5 percent raise. Police Department employees received 7.5% percent.
Mayor Gurpal Samra
Mayor Pro-Tem William Ingram
Council Member Frank Vierra
Council Member Rodrigo Espinoza
Council Member Roy Soria
CHANGES TO THE AGENDA.
At the request of City Manager Warne, Item #5 was pulled from the agenda. Item #5 pertained to an Ordinance amending City Code Chapters 1, 2, 4 and 5 relating to City Boards, Commissions, Committees, Councils, Foundations and Agencies.
AWARDS, PRESENTATIONS, APPOINTMENTS AND PROCLAMATIONS
1. Mayor Samra presented a Certificate of Appreciation to John Vance recognizing his many years of service as a volunteer firefighter.
2. Mayor Samra presented a Certificate of Appreciation to Gordon Wilkerson who is retiring from service with the Department of Forestry and has been assigned to the Livingston Station for many years.
David Bates, Volunteer Chief, gave a brief history of Mr. Wilkerson’s service and achievements and said he will be missed.
Chief Bates also presented a brief history of Mr. Vance’s volunteer service.
He commented that Mr. Vance had served as a volunteer for 15 years before him and he taught him a lot and wanted to commend him for his 40 years of service.
Police Chief Eldridge commented that the City and Fire Department are losing two excellent people.
Mayor Pro-Tem Ingram told of how he met both men. He added that they were two of the hardest working fire personnel in the County and will be greatly missed.
City Manager Warne also said a few kind words.
3. Presentation by Griffin Structures and David Taussig & Associates on Infrastructure Financing.
City Manager Warne introduced David Taussig and Chuck De Garno who gave a background of their companies, Griffin Structures and David Taussig and Associates and gave a presentation on infrastructure financing.
Council Member Espinoza stated it is never too late to get started on the sport complex.
Mayor Pro-Tem Ingram commented that the sports complex is very much needed and all the other amenities could come later.
Mayor Samra commented that it was apparent the sports complex is much needed for the kids. He noted there are other projects needed, but feels the sports complex infrastructure should be explored further.
4. Citizens’ Advisory Committee Presentation.
Kaye Greeley gave the Council information on code enforcement and urged them to read the material. She introduced Bob Boyd who gave a presentation of how Turlock utilizes its code enforcement person. Mr. Boyd commented that including him there are five people who work in his department. He talked about common violations for example, abandoned vehicles, graffiti, tall grass/weeds, zoning, noise, etc.
Ms. Greeley said she noticed a diagram in the budget that showed funds that she hoped could be used for a City code enforcement position.
The Council moved on to Citizen Comments at 7:55 p.m. so that youngsters present could go home and do their homework.
Leo Pulido, 1021 “I” Street, introduced members of the Girls Soccer Traveling Team. He thanked the Council and everyone who donated money to the team. He said the boys’ team members could not be present tonight.
Mr. Pulido asked the Council to consider placing a measure on the election ballot calling for a one percent tax increase for youth activities.
Nicole Alvernaz, 15975 Vinewood Circle, stated that at the September 4, 2007 Council Meeting, the City Clerk invited the Council to the Unity March that was held on September 11, 2007, but she noticed this was not referenced in the Minutes.
Ms. Alvernaz also commented that in reviewing the recorded video tape from the September 4th meeting she found that the minutes were not accurate, specifically, incorrect names of persons addressing the Council and incorrect and incomplete statements that were made. She questioned how the Council can approve something that is not correct.
Marie Waldo, 1512 Queen Way, representing residents of Monte Cristo Adult Community presented information that will allow residents of the Mobile Home Park to secure rent control.
Pamela Tamez, 1440 Main Street, read a list of questions she would like answered in reference to the apartment and garage being constructed at 1420 Main Street.
Gerri Martin, 16181 Vinewood Avenue, referred to the meeting of August 21, 2007, where she had expressed concerns regarding the proposed location of future sewer percolation ponds and asked the City to have the engineers map alternative sites on which to locate the ponds before the Wastewater System Master Plan is adopted. She also requested that this matter be placed on the next City Council agenda for discussion and action.
Ms. Martin also stated that she made the same comments at the September 4, 2007 meeting; however, the minutes of that meeting did not accurately reflect her statements.
Colette Alvernaz, P.O. Box 255, Livingston, presented a list of concerns regarding statements that she made at the September 4th Council meeting that were incorrectly referenced in the minutes for that meeting.
Bill Thompson, 1220 Cressey Road, representing the Merced County Farm Bureau, addressed the issue of water and drought issues. He stated that the City needs a water study because most of the current water study is three or four years old. Mr. Thompson also questioned why the City does not participate in the MAGPI which includes the entire county.
Jean Okuye, 10029 W. Olive Avenue, stated that she is a farmer and was glad to hear Mr. Boyd’s presentation. She referenced housing projections contained in the budget and stated she does not see as many housing developments coming in. Ms. Okuye invited everyone to attend a Farm Bureau meeting on October 6, 2007, from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at Merced City Hall.
ANNOUNCEMENTS AND REPORTS
Police Chief Eldridge reported and/or made the following comments:
- Toys for Tots Program have officially kicked off.
- Neighborhood Visit scheduled for September 20th; invited the Council to participate. Noted the Department has conducted Neighborhood Visits for 11 years.
- The Police Department has officially become a part of the Gang Enforcement Task Force.
- Police Department employees are very appreciative of the 7.5% pay increases and thanked the Council for sending a positive message to employees.
Supervisor John Pedrozo Announcements and Reports.
John Vang, Administrative Assistant to Supervisor Pedrozo, thanked John Vance and Gordon Wilkerson for their dedication, years of service and sacrifices made.
Mr. Vang announced that the Board of Supervisors will host an Open House on October 1, 2007, at 10:00 a.m. at the Merced County Main Branch, 2100 “O” Street, to recognize the recent investments in the County libraries.
Mayor Pro-Tem Ingram asked that Mr. Vang relay a message to Supervisor Pedrozo about his commitment on the rent he said would be covered for the Senior Citizens’ facility. He noted the City needs something in writing because the City has been billing the County, but the bill has not been paid.
City Council Members’ Announcements and Reports.
Council Member Soria
· No Reports.
Council Member Vierra
· Thanked John Vance and Gordon Wilkerson and said they will be missed when the high school has inspections.
· Thanked Chief Eldridge on behalf of the Hispanic Youth Leadership Club and Key Club for taking them to Boomers.
· Asked staff to bring back the presentation that was given tonight on the sports complex.
· Requested that expenditures for the last three years of Council Travel, Conferences and Meetings be presented at a Council meeting for the public’s information.
Mayor Pro-Tem Ingram
· Reported on the League of California Cities Conference he attended in Sacramento. He commented the City did not have a voice on various conference matters because the Council did not select a voting delegate which should have been done prior to the conference.
Mayor’s Announcements and Reports.
· Stated he forgot to mention under Closed Session Announcements that the Council directed that employee paychecks be issued right away.
Motion: M/S Ingram/Soria to approve the following Consent Calendar items:
6. Approval of Warrant Register Dated September 18, 2007.
7. Approval of Meeting Minutes September 4, 2007.
8. Approval of Computer Assisted Drawing Licensing Extension and Equipment Upgrade
9. Resolution No. 2007-45 Awarding a Construction Contract to BDS Construction, Inc, California, Approving the Expenditure of Construction Funds for the Safe Routes to School Cycle 6 Sidewalk Installation Project, and Authorizing the City Manager to Execute a Construction Contract.
The motion carried 5-0.
DISCUSSION AND POTENTIAL ACTION ITEMS
10. Discussion on City Council Cell Phones
Council Member Espinoza explained that he requested this item be placed on the agenda. because he felt that the Council should not have the citizens pay for their cell phones.
Mayor Pro-Tem Ingram commented that he returned his City cell phone because he was tired of people harassing him about the City paying for his cell phone. He noted that if Council Members have a cell phone then they should return calls.
Council Member Espinoza reiterated that the Council should pay for their own cell phones. He added that this matter goes along the same lines as health benefits for the Council.
Council Member Soria commented that he returned his cell phone also. He stated he didn’t know why this item was on the agenda and implied it was likely as retaliation from the last meeting when the issue of health benefits for Council members was dropped because of strong opposition from the public.
Council Member Vierra commented that his cell phone has been turned in for about one week. He recalled being in a meeting when one of the Council Members came in and returned his phone and said that citizens were requesting to see Council phone records. He felt that citizens should be able to see phone records.
Discussion followed on whether there should be a cell phone policy.
Jerry Martin, 5050 Sultana, stated that making phone records available to the public was a wonderful idea. He also felt that cell phones should be provided to the Council.
Mike Torres 1616 Eighth Street, was also in favor of the Council having cell phones. He added that the Council does not have an office and there is no other way that citizens can contact the Council.
Kaye Greeley stated the Council is public servants and as such they should have phones and be accessible to the citizens.
After listening to a debate on the cell phone issue, Chief Eldridge commented on the dissention among the Council that is causing significant trauma to the City and the stress City staff members, including himself, was uncalled for.
Council Member Espinoza explained again why he brought this item up. He commented he knows of one Council Member using his phone for campaign purposes and others that don’t return phone calls
Further discussion followed.
Mayor Pro-Tem Ingram agreed that phone records should be accessible to the public.
Mayor Samra commented that it is crucial for City officials to keep in contact with the citizens; therefore, he feels the Council should keep their phones. He subsequently directed staff to draft a cell phone policy for discussion purposes.
11. City Council Guidance on Development of City Property on Olive Ave. for Soccer Field.
Council Member Soria commented that Council Member Espinoza is the City’s liaison for the Recreation Commission and he is the alternate. He reported that at the last Recreation Commission meeting the group went to look at the site for two soccer fields.
Council Member Espinoza commented that there is a need for two soccer fields.
Council Member Soria asked staff to talk to the engineer to determine what it would cost for sprinklers and sod and that costs be presented to the Council for discussion.
Council Member Vierra commented that he is not against soccer fields in that area. However, he asked if this location could be looked at for building a Valley Continuation School and add the soccer fields adjacent to the sports complex.
Lee Anderson, MCOE Superintendent, commented that if they were going to use this land for a school, they would not claim it by eminent domain.
Mayor Pro-Tem Ingram was in favor of using the land for soccer fields. He stated that when school representatives came to talk to the Council they wanted to construct a continuation school out by Schelby School and he supported having soccer fields for the kids over the continuation school.
Councilmember Espinoza agreed with Council Member Soria and Mayor Pro-Tem Ingram.
Mike Torres asked about the 2 ½ acres that was supposed to be used for the Fire Station. He felt the Council should revert back to the original plan.
Chris Kaji, a resident of Olive Avenue, asked this land is next to his trucking business. He urged the Council to reconsider placing soccer fields in this area due to safety issue with kids and the fact that Foster Farms is growing corn there.
Mike Torres reminded the Council about the West Nile Virus factor.
12. Approval of Warrant Register Dated September 18, 2007 – Rodrigo Espinoza Travel Expense.
Motion: M/S Ingram/Vierra to approve Warrant No. 63574 to Rodrigo Espinoza in the amount of $202.00. The motion carried 4-0-1. with Council Member Espinoza abstaining.
13. Approval of Warrant Register Dated September 18, 2007 – William Ingram Travel Expense.
Motion: M/S Soria/Espinoza to approve Warrant No. 63576 to William Ingram in the amount of $202.00. The motion carried 4-0-1, with Mayor Pro-Tem Ingram abstaining.
14. City Manager Announcements and Reports.
Clarified how the City Hall Expansion Project will be paid.
Mayor Samra directed the City Manager to look into some team building workshops on how the Council can better get along.
The meeting was adjourned by consensus.
City Clerk of the City of Livingston
APPROVED: October 2, 2007
Mayor or Mayor ProTempore