More Breaking City Council News … What’s in Our Budget, What’s in Our Water?

February 8, 2011
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La Verne Public Works Director inside the Amherst treatment facility control room.

La Verne Public Works Director inside the Amherst treatment facility control room.

University of La Verne President Stephen Morgan said development of the La Verne Athletic Complex is moving forward. The University has recently issued bonds to fund a new residence hall and also to begin work on the athletic complex. University officials anticipate the initial investment of $7 million will fund the infrastructure work and the construction of the basic playing field requirements for the baseball field and the softball field and the multi-use field. The University has set a deadline of December 2013 to complete these initial athletic field improvements.

The City approved sending a letter to Governor Brown that would emphasize the importance of maintaining redevelopment agencies (RDA) in California. If RDA funding were eliminated, La Verne could lose about $4.5 million in RDA funds. About $2.2 million will be in immediate jeopardy if Brown is successful in eliminating the RDA. Before the state can get its hands on the funds, the city is looking to commit those dollars to capital improvement projects, street projects and other projects within the city’s RDA areas. “We’re going to do our best to protect those revenues wherever we can,” City Manager Bob Russi said.

For the 2011-12 budget cycle, La Verne has been allocated $163,104 in Community Development Block Grant (CBDG) funds of $163,104. Recipients will include Tri-City Mental Health L/M, $16,310, and the Senior Hot Lunch Program L/M, $10,000.

In response to residents’ complaints that car owners with University business are parking their vehicles in front of their homes, the Council approved a designation to create a Residential Preferential Parking Zone for both sides of the 1800 block of First Street. The restricted zone would only be in effect Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Violators would receive a $48 parking citation.

City Manager Bob Russi issued a mid-year financial report on the City’s finances. He said the city’s major revenue sources, including sales taxes, property taxes and utility taxes, will remain flat. Non-personnel-related operational expenses should also be held in check. Pension rates, however, are expected to rise 5% for safety personnel and 3% for non-safety personnel. Health insurance rates are also anticipated to increase.

Before the budget process even begins, Russi anticipated the city faces a $2.1 million to $2.5 million deficit. “The good news,” Russi said, “is I believe that we can take care of about half of this with the strategies we will bring forward.” The City, he said, will be able to tap some one-time resources and also some savings from early retirements and employee contract concessions negotiated last year. That will still leave about a $1 million shortfall that the City Council will have to plug with cuts and other strategies. “We made some significant cuts last year,” Russi said, “and coming forward to this next year, it’s not going to be any easier.”

 On Friday, Feb. 4, the city’s Public Works Department had to issue a “boiled water order” for about 200 north La Verne (Zone 5) residents after the department detected a water quality issue in the city’s water system. That order was lifted on Monday, Feb. 7.

On Wednesday, Feb. 2, the Public Works Department, which routinely takes hundreds of samples a month to ensure the health and safety of La Verne’s water supply, detected a sample from a lower Marshall Canyon Estates testing site that came back positive for coliform bacteria (E. Coli). Subsequent testing on Thursday revealed contamination, as well.

Measures were taken to disinfect the system as area residents began receiving the boiled water notices on Friday evening. The City also issued three cases of bottled Arrowhead drinking water per household to impacted residents. On Saturday, the Public Works Department conducted more testing and flushed the system. New samples that were taken on Friday and Saturday came back clean. The Department reported the updated findings to health officials, and the boiled water order was lifted at about 1:30 p.m. Monday, Feb. 7.

The Public Works staff will continue to investigate the source of the contamination and look at implementing additional programs to ensure the integrity of the city’s water system.

As for the overall quality of the city’s water system, Public Works Director Dan Keesey declared, “It’s excellent.”

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