Council eyeing review of city priorities
The Sonoma City Council has prepared for itself the figurative options of either light hors d'oeuvres or a full-blown legislative banquet for its meeting Monday night.
There will be no public hearings, just two brief presentations (including a $2,000 Student Creative Arts Award for Sarah Summers from the Cultural and Fine Arts Commission), only one potential political hiccup when the revised leaf blower ordinance receives its second and final reading on the consent calendar, and just three regular calendar items.
Those items could be disposed of in less than an hour, or they could drag late into the evening, depending on the energy level and urgency felt by council members.
The first item involves a request by Councilmember Joanne Sanders for consideration of providing staff and technology support to the council, including voicemail boxes, email and email addresses.
A staff survey of six other cities reveals that only Petaluma provides its council members a city voicemail option; Windsor reimburses for council member cellphone use and Cloverdale provides its council members with iPads, but they are stored onsite. All six surveyed cities provide varying levels of staff support to their council members, but only through existing city manager and city clerk staff.
No cities surveyed had staff dedicated to supporting council members.
The second substantive agenda item is an updated report on state budget negotiations and potential impacts on the city budget and its redevelopment funds. Since the state budget struggle is once again locked in something close to stalemate, there may not be much to report on that front.
Finally, the council will discuss a course of action for addressing the goal-setting process it has committed to, and for which each member has developed a personal list of priorities. A staff recommendation to reserve substantive discussion of the goal lists until a facilitated half-day or full-day workshop can be arranged would eliminate a long discussion Monday night.
If council members alternatively choose to engage in a detailed discussion, they could devote hours to the topic.
Issues identified by various council members include a new community swimming pool, resolution of the uncertain status of future fire department organization; more secure provisions for long-range water supply; zoning changes to address big box and chain stores; an increase in the city's TOT; managing the unfunded liability of city pensions; realignment of city finances of redevelopment funds are taken by the state; resolution of the perennial cemetery fund deficit; expanded development of the vets building; use of student interns at City Hall; possible closure of one Plaza street to vehicle traffic; banning plastic bags; adopting Roberts Rules of Order; providing further protection to open space and parks; encouraging local enterprise and local jobs; identifying core services to protect in budget balancing efforts.
The length of Monday's meeting may well be determined by how much of that menu the council is prepared to chew on.