By John D. Bennett
CALIFORNIA CITY – Accepting the resignation of the city manager, appointment of an interim city manager, a pay raise for city firefighters, approval of road repair and approval of off highway vehicle program grant applications were main action items at the May 14 City Council meeting.
Reporting out of closed session, City Attorney Christian Bettenhausen said the council unanimously voted to accept City Manager Bob Stockwell’s resignation effective 11:59 p.m. May 14.
“The City Council wishes to thank Bob Stockwell for his years of service as city manager, not only here but in other cities, and wishes him success in his future endeavors,” said Bettenhausen.
The council also unanimously voted to appoint Anna Linn as interim city manager for a period of three months.
During public comments before the closed session, members of the public voiced support for Stockwell as well as endorsement of Linn as a possible replacement.
Stockwell has been placed on administrative leave April 30 pending an investigation.
An immediate 20% raise for city firefighters, followed by 6% increases for each of the next two years were also approved by council. The memorandum of understanding was already approved by the firefighter’s association and includes increases for the city’s contributions to health, dental and vision insurance coverage.
Approval of nearly $600,000 in funding from the Road Maintenance and Rehabilitation Act created by Senate Bill 1 the Road Repair and Accountability Act of 2017 was also approved by council. The city was estimated to receive $576,192 in Fiscal Year 2018-19 funding with $230,997 received so far.
In order to receive the funding, the city must also annually expend an amount from its general fund for street, road and highway purposes not less than the annual average of its expenditures from the general fund during fiscal years 2009-10, 2010-11 and 2011-12, according to a resolution summary. Known as Maintenance of Effort, the amount is currently under $75,000 per year.
Council also voted to approve $1.1 million in grant applications for the city’s Off Highway Vehicle program. Funding applied for includes $538,807 for ground operations; $303,376 for law enforcement; $98,522 for education and safety; $101,650 for development and $109,050 for planning.
The grants are funded annually through the California State Parks Off-highway Motor Vehicle Division.
Extending an agreement with a consultant for the city’s finance department was also approved. City Finance Director Diego Ibanez requested an additional $40,000 in expenditures for consultant Andy Heath Financial Services to continue assisting with preparation for audit and the 2019-2020 budget.
The request was approved by a four to one vote, with Councilmember Don Parris dissenting.
In other action, council opted to continue audio recording of closed session meetings, against the advice of the city attorney.
Although closed session meeting recordings are not part of the public record, Bettenhausen said they increased the potential for confidential information to be released. He noted the practice of recording closed session meetings were not standard practice for the other cities for which he works.
Bettenhausen had proposed an ordinance amending the city’s municipal code, which failed to pass as no council member made a motion for action.