Eugene Stump

Eugene Stump relocating to Nevada

CALIFORNIA CITY – City Council will need to fill another vacancy on the council following the resignation of Mayor Pro Tem Eugene Stump. He submitted a letter to City Clerk Denise Hilliker stating his intention to resign effective Dec. 27.

Contacted by phone, Stump said he was basically living full time in Nevada now and could not legally retain his position as a resident of another state.

“Legally, because I now spend the majority of my time in Nevada, I had to change my residency to Nevada,” he said. “We intended to move here in 2020 anyway because I retired in September. Tax-wise it was also the best time of the year to do it. I still own property there and still spend about a third of my time in the city – I played music at the American Legion on Christmas – but, I’m no longer a resident of California.”

Stump was elected to his position in November 2016 and his position would have been up for reelection in November.

“I really enjoyed being on the City Council, hopefully the things I helped support will do good things for the city,” he said. “I don’t pat myself on the back, because nothing is one vote and it wasn’t just us on the council, it was our constituents telling us what they wanted.

“On this council, we passed resolutions where you have to have a super majority to spend any reserve money and change any ordinance.”

Stump said he has no regrets about his time on council, but it was time for a change.

“I have a family to think about,” he said. “At 66 years old, my wife is like ‘when are you going to be mine totally.’ Now is my time for honey do’s rather than accomplishing things for other people.”

Stump said he believes some citizens often had unrealistic expectations about what city council could accomplish.

“A lot of people want things done, but they should look at council as being your mom and dad,” he said. “Your mom and dad have a certain budget and so does the council. It’s great to have a nice golf course - and I used to be a member there - however, can we really afford a golf course.”

Stump noted that the city has less than five years to find a replacement for Measure C funds or deal with the consequences.

“Cal City does not have a lot of money,” he said. “We can’t pay high salaries because we don’t have high revenue. If we didn’t have the parcel tax, we wouldn’t be able to be incorporated. If we want to continue with the services we have, we’ll have to have another parcel tax or some way to replace that money.

“In our current situation we need zero-based budgeting; funding for only the essentials until the cannabis businesses are fully up and running. We need to be bringing in $15 million a year in five years, currently we are under that.”

Stump said there is potential that those funds could be replaced by revenue from cannabis businesses.

“We’re getting there, the revenue increase is a geometric curve, it’s not a straight line curve” he said. “It’s going to be slow the first two years. We have one dispensary, which is growing. When we have two dispensaries, it will not just double, it will be geometric. We have other grow facilities coming online, once they get completed and online, we will see it increase dramatically.”

If the cannabis revenue does not grow quickly enough and a replacement for Measure C is not passed, some tough choices will need to be made.

“I would let the airport go,” said Stump. “Another thing I would let go is the fire department, we could go to county fire - I love our firefighters but they are expensive. If we went to county, they would still use our facility, it’s just that we would pay less money than we are paying now.

“The problem with our golf course is we don’t have a clubhouse that is good. Our golf course is good, but our clubhouse is no good. If we had a good clubhouse, we would take business away from almost every course in the Antelope Valley. They have good clubhouses, but their courses are not as good as ours.

“Closing the golf course, going county on the fire department and closing the airport, all three of those are money pits. If we didn’t have a parcel tax, those three things would have to go, those are the things that cost us more than they’re worth.”

Stump said he appreciates healthy discourse on subjects, but felt some of the social media criticisms went too far.

“We received all kinds of criticism from the what I call the internet or cyber bullies - my wife would go on online and just be shocked at what people were saying,” he said. “The way they write it up on social media, these cyber bullies - they criticize but offer no solutions. I say if you think you can do so much better, why don’t you run. Put your name in the hat and run for office. It’s easier to criticize than roll up your sleeves and do something.

“I wish they were on the council. Everybody says they don’t have the time, but nobody has the time. I had a full time job and was playing music, yet I was on the council. If they think they have the following they claim to have, get out there and get on the council, run for office.”

Stump said he had no sour grapes about his time on council and was also very thankful for city personnel.

“In my time there, we’ve have a great staff,” he said. “They’re not perfect, but we (the council) are not perfect. They put in long hours for the city, I wish we could pay them more, but we don’t have the money.”

Stump added that he would like to see the Granicus system – an automated agenda approval and meeting minutes management system – online as well as other improvements for citizen access.

“I wish that was up and running,” he said. “That would allow our citizens to go online and find anything, search for any topic and find it really easily. We need to put in a system to get rid of that terrible system we have. Shawn Monk has been doing a good job streaming our meetings and uploading them to YouTube, but we really need to upgrade our existing cameras. Put some money into a 4K camera so people can really see what we’re doing. Knowledge is power and the more knowledge we give our citizens, the better.”

The council has 60 days to determine whether to fill the vacant seat by appointment or special election, according to state law. A special election would cost the city an estimated $25,000 to $50,000, according to the last time the Council considered the issue in July.

This is the second Council resignation in 2019, Council Member Tami Johnson resigned on June 25 due to medical reasons. She had been elected in November 2018.

Ron Smith was appointed to fill her seat from a field of five other applicants, four of whom were interviewed during an open session of the council. A fifth applicant did not show up for the special meeting and was disqualified.

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