City Council Receives FY 2014-15 Financial Report; Approves Library Coffee Cart Concession - Coronado Eagle & Journal | Coronado News | Coronado Island News: Coronado City News

City Council Receives FY 2014-15 Financial Report; Approves Library Coffee Cart Concession

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Posted: Thursday, October 29, 2015 3:26 pm

After four consecutive Coronado City Council meetings that played out in front of standing room only crowds, a degree of normalcy returned to the council’s meeting of Oct. 20, 2015. Instead of the five plus hours of deliberation and public testimony from the meeting held two weeks prior, the Oct. 20 meeting lasted less than two hours.

Despite the relative brevity of the meeting, the council did act on some important issues, including receiving an updated look at the results of the city’s Fiscal Year 2014-15 Financial Report. The overview was presented by Director of Administrative Services Leslie Suelter in her final appearance before the council before her retirement, having served in that capacity for 13 years. Both Mayor Casey Tanaka and City Manager Blair King lauded Suelter’s career with the city.

Suelter’s report reflected the strength of the city’s current financial position with revenues higher than budgeted at $48.56 million; expenditures and transfers lower than projected at $50.45 million and the city’s General Fund balance growing by $4.86 million to $39.67 million. Of that total balance, $21.21 million is essentially designated as the city’s disaster fund and $18.46 million of the total is unassigned. Keep in mind these numbers are after the city made a pre-payment in the amount of $5 million to CalPERS earlier in the fiscal year to pay down anticipated retirement and pension costs. On the plus side, due to legal actions taken by the city of Coronado against the state of California relating to the city’s former Community Development Agency, the city has an additional $5.85 million in its coffers.

Although the biggest source of income to the city remains property taxes at a level of $24.56 million, the city’s transient occupancy taxes made a 10.1 percent jump to $13.76 million in 2014-15. Along with sales tax revenue of $3.69 million, those three categories account for 86.7 percent of the city’s revenue during the past fiscal year.

Consistent with a strong cash position, the city staff looked for financial areas that could be strengthened and the council approved three actions designed to address potential soft spots in the budget going forward. The actions included:

• Approval of the transfer of $440,200 from various funds to the city’s Public Agencies Post-Employment Benefits Trust, making additional funding available to pay down future retirement obligations.

• Agreed to write off the $7.1 million balance owed the city’s General Fund by the city’s Storm Drain Fund. Simply stated, fees for use of the storm drains haven’t kept pace with regulatory expenses imposed on the fund. An increase in the $3.80 per month parcel fee for storm drain usage, which included on property tax bills, would require a two-thirds vote of the electorate. The city’s General Fund began loaning the Storm Drain Fund money in 2007.

• Directed the $5.85 million no longer tied up by the state in the legal action referenced above, to be placed in a fund for future facilities replacement.

The motion to receive the report and approve the transactions passed by a 5-0 vote.

In another action that wasn’t significant in monetary terms, but is perhaps reflective of the needs of residents of the city, the council agreed to spend $48,000 to re-institute the coffee cart operation in front of the Coronado Public Library. The first two concessionaires the city contracted with to run the cart operation weren’t able to make a success of the business.

The $48,000 expenditure is to reconstruct the cart and to purchase additional operational units to comply with the county’s health code. As the staff report for the agenda item noted, “The purpose of the coffee cart service is to serve as an amenity for the public and library patrons.” By a vote of three in favor and one abstention, the Library Board of Trustees approved the concept of the cart going forward. The firm that operates the restaurant on the city’s behalf at the Coronado Municipal Golf Course, Coronado Foursome, has expressed interest in the cart project.

Discussion among the council regarding the coffee cart was generally positive, reflected in the eventual 5-0 vote to proceed with the project. Possible expansion of the cart’s customer base to include attendees at Concerts in the Park and visitors to the new Coronado Senior Center seem to bode well for the future of the coffee cart. Councilmember Mike Woiwode said, “I want to make sure that we have in mind that sponsoring the coffee cart is a service for the public.”

Seemingly it wouldn’t be a city council meeting if some form of traffic regulation wasn’t discussed. Earlier in the meeting as an addition to the consent agenda, the council approved the conversion of yield signs located at E Avenue and Flora Avenue at Isabella Avenue to stop signs.

In addition, Councilmember Richard Bailey brought forward a two-part request to examine restricting left turns from Third Street onto the 300 blocks of A,B and C from 5 to 9 a.m. and 2 to 6 p.m.; followed by a report to restrict left turns from Third Street onto the 300 block alleys of the same streets from 5 to 9 a.m. and 2 to 5 p.m.

Seemingly a relatively straight forward concept, the proposals are in fact complex. During the November 2, 2004, General Municipal Election, a citizen’s ballot initiative requiring the removal of traffic semi-diverters on the streets noted above was passed. To be over-turned, the issue must be placed on the ballot again and passed by a majority vote. According to the staff report, if the city council sponsors the ballot measure with the left turn restrictions, it is a ‘project’ as defined by the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). An Environmental Impact Report (EIR) may be required prior to the measure being placed on the ballot.

City Attorney Johanna Canlas noted the first step would be to establish which level of CEQA review would be required for the project and if an EIR was mandated. Considering the public outreach and other requirements needed to place the measure on the November 2016 General Election ballot, time is already running short. Blair King added, “Any form of EIR is going to be difficult to complete by the second council meeting in July.” That is the deadline for the measure to be placed on the ballot.

After debating the pros and cons of the issue, the council voted 5-0 for the city staff to take the investigatory steps to place no left turns on A,B and C Avenues from Third Street on the ballot. In a second vote, the council voted 5-0 to add further limit the no left turns onto the alleys at A,B and C Avenues from Third Street by an hour earlier and an hour later than they currently exist. No CEQA or EIR studies would be required for this change.

In other city council actions:

• The council approved the six traditional major special events for the city for next year including: The Flower Show/Library Book Sale for April 16-17, 2016; Motorcars on MainStreet for April 24, 2016; Concerts in the Park on Sundays from May 22 through September 11, 2016; the Fourth of July Celebration; the Optimist Club of Coronado’s Annual Sports Fiesta September 3, 2016; and the Chamber of Commerce Holiday Open House on Friday, December 2, 2016.

• In addition other non-traditional events which have been approved by the city in previous years were given the nod going forward. They include: the Valentine’s Day 10K on February 14, 2016; the Naval Special Warfare SuperSEAL Triathlon March 20, 2016; the Over the Bridge Run/Walk May 15, 2016; the Bike the Bay event August 28, 2016; the Coronado Art Walk at the Ferry Landing September 10-11, 2016; the SuperFrog Triathlon September 25, 2016; and the Silver Strand Half Marathon for November 13, 2016.

• As part of the Consent Agenda, the council approved an expenditure not to exceed $269,600 for the purchase of two pickup trucks, one riding lawn mower and one Honda motorcycle.

• After a public hearing, the council authorized the city staff to apply for a 2016-17 Community Development Block Grant from the federal government’s Department of Housing and Urban Development. The grant would be in the amount of $65,500 for the removal of steps and level changes in the city’s Centennial Park. With available carryover funds the total would come to $72,000. The work would serve to make the park more accessible to people with disabilities. The motion to make the grant application passed 5-0.

The next meeting of the Coronado City Council will be held Tuesday, Nov. 1, 2015, at 4 p.m. Council meetings are held at Coronado City Hall, located at 1825 Strand Way in Coronado.

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