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Cannabis compliance officer decision tabled

CALIFORNIA CITY – The city took its first steps toward establishing a city-owned utility at the Nov. 12 regular City Council meeting. Decisions on hiring a cannabis compliance officer and City Hall air conditioning system service were tabled.

Cities are authorized to form utilities for such things as providing electrical power, Interim Public Works Director Joe Barragan told council. A number of undeveloped areas in the city lack infrastructure for electrical power and Southern California Edison has said they don’t have capacity to extend power to these areas.

“When people hear of electric utility think there’s something grand or big,” said Barragan. “If the city attempted to do that - and we could -  there’s a lot of risk involved. There’s a lot of licensing permits fees, not just with the state but with the feds, especially if you’re going to run power lines overhead.”

Instead, the goal would be to establishing smaller micro- or nano-grids within the city. He said the city has already been approached with one Switzerland-based company interested in setting up a nano-grid.

“We see this nano-grid as a good way to get started while minimizing a lot of risk,” said Barragan. “Of course any idea we come up with would be brought back to Council for approval. This would just be to establish electrical utility, so we can have a meeting with solar companies with investor, with potential developers and see if we could provide them with little nano-grids or even micro-grids.”

Any costs associated with developing the grids would be paid for by investors, rather than the city.

“So zero risk for us if we approve it as is tonight,” asked Council Member Ron Smith.

Barragan said there would be no financial risk at present and any potential projects would be brought back to the council for approval. Adoption of the resolution wold not require the City to immediately undertake any action to provide any electricity - or any other utility - but allows the City to more formally meet with investors, developers and SCE.

Public comment was all in favor of approving the ordinance. Some reminded Council that previous attempts to bring such development – including by Baker Energy and Ingersoll-Rand – to the City failed to move forward, partly due to a lack of such an ordinance.

“Tonight step is one step in the right direction to put one in the win box if this is approved,” said Developer DJ Twohig.”Now we can come in to create solutions for individual needs to actually attract industry into the community. We represent multiple sites that could be, in theory, great sites to market to the universe that we can have these micro grids at a lower cost of power than any other community.”

The ordinance was approved unanimously.

Discussion over authorization to establish a cannabis compliance officer was tabled after lengthy discussion. Much of the discussion centered on job description and qualifications for applicants.

“It just does not look like this is for a cannabis compliance officer, it looks like this is for a cannabis compliance department head,” said Smith. “It just appears that very soon there’s going to be other employees, coming online. This is not a personality issue - this is very much a principal issue. I am for small government and this just looks like this is just going to get bigger and bigger and bigger.”

He said he believed a compliance officer was needed, but that it should be a standalone position. Smith also noted that the job description does not list collection of taxes as part of the job, which he felt would be essential for the post.

The initial description of qualifications included a requirement for a master’s degree with major course work in business, accounting or a related field and four years of supervisory or administrative experience in municipal activities. An updated description handed out to Council during the meeting reportedly called only for a bachelor’s degree.

“We need to make it so that we can get more than just one or two people applying for this job,” said Council Member Don Parris. “You know, the master’s degree has already been taken out and reduced to a bachelor’s, and I think if we reduce the four years (experience) to two years, that would also be helpful.”

Earlier, Smith said he had been told that someone was already being represented as the de facto cannabis compliance officer to City staff.

“I was going to use Jeanie O’Laughlin on a contract basis,” said City Manager Anna Linn. “It was said that I did it wrong, so now we will put this out for applications. She will apply, whoever else wants to apply can apply. We’ll have a panel interview those people and the best candidate will be selected.”

Other questions included if the position needed to be full time or part time and certain other “word-smithing” needed on the job description. Ultimately, the item was tabled for further refinement to be brought back at a future council meeting.

A request for approval for duct cleaning at City Hall was also tabled for further refinement. Among concerns was the cost of $9,558 versus the potential cost of having to replace the aging ductwork and other equipment even after cleaning.

The system is believed to be at least 20 years old and replacing it could be more cost effective.

Council also noted the need for improving or repairing ducting on the north side of the building.

“I would look at and see how much it would cost to replace all the duct work,” said Mayor pro tem Eugene Stump.

Council also approved a resolution establishing a three-quarter-inch water meter rate in place of the one-inch water meter rate. This would only be for the customers that were are required to install one-inch water meter to meet the fire protection requirements. As long as the total fixtures do not exceed 37 fixture units.

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