The Azusa Unified school board appears to be headed toward placing a $92 million bond measure on the November ballot. The board heard a presentation at a special meeting regarding the district’s needs and priorities for its facilities. They also received information about the selection of architects and bond counsel. A timeline provided by Isom Advisors lists finalizing a capital and financing plan, finalizing a project list and preparing a resolution calling for an election as tasks that must be completed in June ahead of a November ballot measure. The deadline to submit a resolution calling an election to the county is Aug. 8, Isom Advisors’ timeline stated. The resolution is slated to be completed by Isom Advisors and the bond consultant. The district has two options: A $60 tax rate or a $49 tax rate, which would total either $92 million or $75 million, respectively. Both options are 30-year terms with no capital appreciation bonds. Isom Advisors said 54 percent of voters surveyed would be in favor of the $60 tax rate, while 68 percent of voters surveyed expressed approval of the $49 tax rate. The district’s top priorities include non-modernized sites, upgrading sites to be ADA-compliant and handicap-accessible, plumbing and sewer upgrades, roof repairs, fire alarms and electrical upgrades. On the lowest priority are a public address system, irrigation and landscaping, lunch shelters and marquee upgrades, according to agenda documents.
The city of Baldwin Park is taking its first steps toward hiring a new chief executive officer as the city council discussed the public employee appointment during a special meeting. The closed session item was a preliminary discussion to give city staff direction in the search for a new CEO. The city is looking for a new CEO after the council axed three top administrators during a Dec. 10 meeting. Police Chief Lili Hadsell and City Attorney Joseph Pannone were fired “without cause” in a closed session meeting, while CEO Vijay Singhal was placed on paid leave at the Dec. 10 meeting and terminated effective June 11, City Attorney Robert Tafoya said. The council appointed then-Police Capt. Mike Taylor to serve as both interim police chief and CEO on Dec. 10. The council signed a contract with Taylor to serve as acting executive team manager on March 19 retroactive to Dec. 10, the staff report states. On May 7, the council approved a contract with Taylor to be police chief retroactive to Dec. 10. Taylor receives a $165,000 salary as chief and is paid $1,923.07 a month for his role as acting executive team manager, the contracts state.
The City of Chino Hills has issued 24 permits for new residential units, a 300 percent increase from the same time period last year, when 6 permits were issued. Three of the new permits are for custom homes, and 11 are for the Crystal View townhomes under construction on Windmill Creek Road, where three- and four-bedroom homes will range in the $700,000s. Permits for new homes are expected to go up dramatically when the Villagio Apartments are ready to build. Fairfield Residential is building the one- and two-bedroom apartments on 15 acres at the southeast corner of Butterfield Ranch Road and Picasso Drive near Chino Hills High. Permits are expected to be issued in the latter part of the year for the Villa Borba project currently being rough graded by Standard Pacific in Butterfield Ranch. The first phase of the massive project will produce 183 single-family homes and a five-acre park that could include a one-acre dog park on the west side of Butterfield Ranch Road south of Pine. Plans have been submitted to the city for a 1,600-square-foot classroom at Loving Savior Lutheran Church on Peyton Drive, and a permit was recently issued to the BAPS Hindu Temple for a restaurant. The future 5,905-square-foot café adjacent to the BAPS visitor’s center will offer breakfast, lunch and traditional Indian snacks and sweets. It will be open on weekends for Temple members and the public. A 13,339-square-foot building in The Commons shopping center is under construction east of the signalized entrance at Commons Drive, the only permit for new commercial construction issued in 2013.
Covina may soon allow food trucks after a review of the city’s restrictive ordinance. Currently, the city allows trucks to stop for a maximum of 10 minutes in one location and prohibits stopping on public streets. The city had food trucks at its annual Thunderfest & Musical Festival this year. Covina’s staff reviewed ordinances from other cities around the San Gabriel Valley. Many allowed special event permits for food trucks, while some, like West Covina, only restricted sale times. Duarte, Baldwin Park and Azusa all limit trucks to 10 minutes. South Pasadena established an ad-hoc committee of truck operators and brick and mortar owners to establish its ordinances, which allows trucks on private and public property. The regulations require bathrooms within 200 feet and bar the trucks from stopping at schools. Covina’s review came after the owners of Alosta Brewing Company, 692 Arrow Grand Circle, asked to have trucks at their brewery. Alosta is located in an industrial area and no restaurants exist in the vicinity. The brewery does not offer food, only the beers it manufactures on-site. The trucks have their own followings and many draw new customers to their locations. Several city council members support the idea of allowing trucks, but they wanted regulations to keep the mobile vendors from hurting the city’s restaurants.
The City of Diamond Bar continued its conservative fiscal course by adopting a new budget of more than $24.5 million. With estimated revenues of nearly $26 million, the city plans to add nearly $1.3 million to its reserves. The budget report noted the city will begin the new fiscal year on July 1 with a reserve of $17,778,894. If all goes according to plan, the new budget will end up with $16,979,519 in reserves next year. Revenue from property taxes should be slightly higher than this year’s at $4,182,000. Money from service charges will increase $1.7 million over this year, bringing a projected revenue of $2.8 million. These fees include planning, building, engineering and recreation fees. The large increase is primarily due to the anticipated developer fees from Lennar Homes for the new Willow Heights home development. The developer is expected to build 100 new homes in the next fiscal year. The economy is expected to continue to improve during the next fiscal year, generating even more revenue for the local city. In fact, city officials expect a 2.8 percent increase over the current year. The city will also get $337,500 by selling its Proposition A funds to the City of Industry. In the last budget, Diamond Bar got $600,000 from Industry through the sale of Prop. A funds. Diamond Bar has an excess of Prop. A funds that can only be used for public transportation. These funds are exchanged for general fund dollars that Diamond Bar can use at its discretion. General fund expenditures are expected to rise at a rate of 4.2 percent. The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department notified the city that its law enforcement services will cost an additional $638,000. That brings the total budget to $6,124,000, an increase of 2.6 percent over the current rate.The law enforcement budget includes a recommendation to reassign two vacant 40-hour motorcycle deputy positions to two patrol cars. This proposal will add more flexibility to target specific crimes, including burglaries, as well as ongoing traffic enforcement. The increase also includes $221,000 for the Sheriff’s Liability Trust Fund. This money is used to pay liability claims filed against the sheriff’s department. The council also approved a 2 percent cost of living raise for its employees, as well as a $50 per month increase in their benefit allotment. The staff uses this money to buy health, dental and eye care.
Glendora’s finances look to remain stable as the city passed a status quo budget for the second year in a row at its Tuesday meeting. The city’s anticipated revenues are $60.3 million for the fiscal year 2014-15, with an overall budget of $65 million. The budget mostly represents a status quo mentality, keeping the same level of service across the board. The general fund budget is balanced and expected to generate a surplus of $157,862. Reserves are projected to be $10,332,283 by June 2015. The city’s leading revenue generator for the general fund continues to be $9 million collected in property taxes, followed by $8.3 million in sales taxes. The largest piece of the general fund is public safety, proposed at $12.9 million or 52 percent of the general fund budget. The police department has plans for a new K-9 officer and a kennel, which will take $128,900 from the asset forfeiture fund. The city signed a cost-neutral contract with Inland Valley Humane Society for animal control services last June, and entered into a 10-year agreement with Athens Services this May. The city also is participating in a regional radio communications network with local cities, Jeffers wrote. Negotiations are ongoing with the Police Officers Association, whose contract expires June 30.
The City Council agreed to a settle a fraud lawsuit it filed against former City Manager Robert Griego.City officials alleged Griego gave illegal pay raises to three city employees. Trial was expected to begin in early June in Los Angeles.The council voted to accept a settlement during closed session. City Attorney Fred Galante said the details of the agreement have not been worked out. Superior Court Judge Elizabeth Allen White gave the attorneys one month to complete the agreement. The complaint claims Griego between 2007 and 2008 amended the contracts of former Police Chief Sol Benudiz, City Engineer/Director of Public Works William Tam, and former Director of Planning and Community Development Raymond Hamada to give salary adjustments, cost-of-living increases and increased severance packages, according to court documents. Griego, who retired in 2009, did not seek prior approval or ratification from the City Council, as required by law, according to court documents. He has cooperated with prosecutors in a public corruption case that is working its way through the courts. The former city manager, who cirrenlty lives in Washington, has denied the city’s claims.The city alleges an additional $37,168 was paid to Tam, $60,502 to Benudiz and $63,414 to Hamada without authorization. The unauthorized contract amendments were discovered in July 2012, when City Manager John Davidson reviewed Tam’s contract. The city said Griego was able to hide the salary adjustments without creating a red flag. Griego alleged the lawsuit was retaliatory because he cooperated with the L.A. County District Attorney’s Office while it investigated conflict of interest, misappropriation of public funds and embezzlement charges against city council members. That case is pending in Los Angeles County Superior Court
In an effort to balance its budget, La Puente has summarily laid off its city clerk and its entire code enforcement department, freeing up $235,000. La Puente plans to replace the laid-off employees with new ones at lower salaries or fewer hours. For instance, the city clerk will become an appointed position with the professional duties of a deputy city clerk for a yearly salary of about $75,000. That salary is more than a 25 percent pay cut from the $105,000 given to Pat Jacquez-Nares, who held the job since 2010. The bulk of the savings will be the result of a restructuring of the code enforcement department. The city plans to put the department under the charge of a sworn-officer from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. Furthermore, the city plans toreplace the full-time code enforcement officers with part-time city employees who will cover multiple shifts on a seven-day schedule. Under this plan, the sheriff’s deputy will becomes the city’s police chief and fulfill the duties of a director of public safety.
City Council members directed city administrators to prepare documentation leading to the creation of a moratorium on the establishment or expansion of recycling or waste processing businesses in the city. Council members voted unanimously in favor of having a proposed urgency ordinance drafted by city staff. The proposed ordinance will be presented at a future meeting. When the proposal goes to the council, city leaders will also establish a committee that will include the participation of city residents and various others. The study will review several things including the impacts of the recycling and trash facilities on nearby residential areas and the environment.
Work is underway on a new $150-million logistics center in Rancho Cucamonga that will create two massive warehouses for rent.. Developer Goodman Birtcher has started work on the Goodman Logistics Center Rancho Cucamonga, which will consist of a 1 million-square-foot warehouse and a 556,000-square-foot warehouse at the southeast corner of Arrow Route and Etiwanda Avenue.
The complex, expected to be completed in 2015, is being built on “spec,” meaning the developers have no tenants lined up yet. Goodman-Birtcher is the North American subsidiary of Goodman Group, one of Australia’s largest industrial property developers and landlords. The Rancho Cucamonga project marks the launch of a $1.4-billion development program by Goodman Birtcher that will create 15 million square feet of logistics properties in major U.S. markets over the next three years. It also follows the recent completion of Goodman Logistics Center Oakland, a new $45-million logistics facility in the Bay Area. The company plans to build five Southern California logistics projects with a combined value of $775 million.
The City Council approved a 2014-15 fiscal year operating budget of $19.32 millionat its meeting this week, but may add another $60,000 to create aesthetic lighting in the downtown business district.
The council unanimously approved a budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1 that’s almost $1.5 million higher than the 2013-14 budget of $17.82 million. The council pulled the $45,000 allocation to the San Dimas Chamber of Commerce from the approval motion for the operating budget, per the request of Councilman Denis Bertone. He was the abstaining member in the 4-0-1 vote because he sits on the chamber board of directors. He said he wanted to avoid a conflict of interest for voting on the municipal contribution to the chamber for conducting special city events and developing business development incentives. The new budget will take care of city services ranging from public protection in the contractual agreement with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, landscape, street and park maintenance, recreational programs, municipal employees’ salaries and several major capital improvements. When everything is paid, the city’s surplus will be about $603,000. The largest capital project, its $2.7 million cost paid primarily with a federal grant and a small amount from the city’s share of gas sales taxes, is the Foothill Boulevard/San Dimas Wash bridge widening project at Foothill and Walnut Avenue. It will start soon, with completion expected in spring 2015 and involve traffic delays to widen the bridge, provide two full lanes for vehicular traffic and install a bike lane on the north and south sides of Foothill.
Martin Lomeli, the former city manager of La Verne, has been selected to serve as the interim top administrator for the next six months. In a special meeting on June 17th the council unanimously agreed to make Lomeli an offer as an interim city manager and directed the city attorney to negotiate a contract. He is expected to step in as the city’s interim top administrator on July 1. Lomeli, who began working for La Verne in 1981 and became the city manager in 1987. When he retired from La Verne in 2010, Lomeli’s annual salary was $195,000. He is no stranger to stepping in on an interim basis either. In 2011, Irwindale gave Lomeli a six-month contract for $90,000 to serve as the city’s chief executive. He only served four months in Irwindale and then a three-month stint as interim city manager in La Puente.
Retiring City Manager Stephen Dunn announced on May 27 he would retire after 13 years with the city. His last day will be June 30. Since the news of Dunn’s departure, the council held five special closed session meetings to interview and review candidates for the position. City leaders have said they expect the interim city manager to carry on with the recommendations of the Upland Fiscal Task Force which outlined 22 measures that aim to cut costs and create revenue through possibly outsourcing the management of certain departments and increase taxes.