Additions to code enforcement, public safety, in the works
■ By Kyle Selby / Reporter
After closed session, the San Jacinto City Council opened their June 20 meeting with the announcement of Don Simpson, Vietnam War veteran, being awarded the Silver Star Medal, the third highest military honor below the Medal of Honor.
San Jacinto resident awarded Silver Star
“Bestowed by the United States military, for his fearless and courageous acts of valor,” read Mayor Scott Miller. “Now therefore, let it be resolved that the City Council and citizens of the City of San Jacinto hereby recognizes and honors the military service and sacrifices of specialist, Donald W. Simpson, by receiving the Silver Star.
Congressman Raul Ruiz, M.D. (CA-36) will present the Silver Star to Simpson at American Legion Post 53 on July 1.
During the City Council reports, Mayor Pro Tem Alonso Ledezma and Councilwoman Crystal Ruiz promoted the Fourth of July Parade.
“Both chambers are working on this, community leaders, and Golden Era [Productions]; everybody is a part of making this happen,” said Ruiz. “It doesn’t happen by one person, but a whole group of people coming together from our community.”
A large military presence is expected to participate in the parade, along with horses and community groups that will march along the parade route beginning at 9 a.m. The route will end at the Estudillo Mansion, where a Fourth of July Festival will last from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
‘Walking school bus’ program
Mayor Miller helped grant funds for “Safe School Routes,” which works with SJUSD, to promote children walking to school. Dubbed the “Walking School Bus,” parents can volunteer to walk a group of kids to school, which promotes exercise for the youth, in a safe environment.
“The whole purpose behind this program is to make sure that our kids are able to go to school safely,” explained Miller.
Miller also recently visited the San Jacinto Walmart Academy’s first graduation. Walmart has begun a program that gives entry-level employees a way to move up in the company, by providing the skill set and education for management positions in the company.
“In this entire region of Southern California, there’s only two academies for Walmart, and San Jacinto’s one of them,” proudly proclaimed Miller.
Transitioning into public comment, Susan Anderson and Karen Nolan spoke about Rebirth Homes, a program designed as a safe space for human trafficking victims in Riverside County, and expressed interest in eventually bringing the program to San Jacinto.
Aaron Daw spoke about weed abatement, and the exceptionally high amount of vegetation due to the rainfall this year.
Ed Myers spoke about a project that the water district is building on a local property, and what can or cannot be changed about it. He also inquired about the committee for public police services last year, and the status of their contracts.
Howard Tounget spoke about the Fourth of July event at Valley-Wide and was concerned about parking issues, being a property owner of one of the neighboring properties.
Following public comment, the City Council approved both landscaping, lighting, and park district numbers 1 and 2 for the 2017-2018 fiscal year.
I really feel like we need to be in front of – not behind – our cannabis ordinance, so we can have our teams in place. So we can affect those illegal operations that are going on, and maximize the effects of legal operations we’ve all discussed.”
– San Jacinto Police Chief John Salisbury
Marijuana cultivation applications available July 10
Next came the urgency of establishing a commercial marijuana cultivation application fee in the amount of $16,500. The adoption of the resolution would allow the City to move forward with accepting applications.
“Since marijuana is still illegal on a federal level, how are we banking this money?” asked Shellie Martin during public comment on the item. “How does that go into a federally insured bank?”
“We’re not setting up a bank account for marijuana. We’re taking a fee for a license and depositing it into our account,” responded City Manager Rob Johnson.
According to Johnson, the applications will be readily available in City Hall by July 10.
“Our process is probably blazing a trail for other communities that are going to go ‘wow, San Jacinto really worked on this,’” said City Councilman Russ Utz. “Hopefully there’s a way for us to license our program to other cities in the future.”
Mayor Pro Tem Ledezma had his own concerns about whether the fee amount was enough to cover staff in the application process; worried it may also spill into the general fund.
Ultimately, the City Council unanimously approved the amount of $16,500.
City manager receives raise
Next, came the decision of approving an annual salary adjustment of City Manager Rob Johnson’s contract to 3 percent.
“This is essentially just a standard adjustment of his contract,” affirmed City Attorney Mike Maurer. “It’s based on the city manager’s performance review held by the City Council earlier tonight. The contents of that are obviously private.”
Without any public comment, the City Council unanimously approved the 3 percent salary adjustment.
Following the June 1 budget workshop, City Manager Rob Johnson informed the Council that while revenues are up, expenses are up as well.
Public safety additions
Evident that an increase in public safety has become necessary, the new fiscal year budget proposed included three new officers in the form of one accident investigation traffic deputy, and two SET/POP officers, for a total budget increase of $999,309.
“I really feel like we need to be in front of – not behind – our cannabis ordinance, so we can have our teams in place,” said Police Chief John Salisbury. “So we can affect those illegal operations that are going on, and maximize the effects of legal operations we’ve all discussed.”
Additionally, City Manager Johnson had been provided an estimate of about $1 million to return Fire Station No. 25 to a full engine station, rather than its current squad status; totaling an increase of $620,000 representing three firefighters.
Finally, a “proactive” Code Enforcement Department would mean adding four code enforcement officers and one code enforcement supervisor, covered by another $240,000.
With a $17,456,849 general fund (comprised of $4,252,886 for general government, $1,104,129 for development services, $12,099,834 for public safety), a $21,498,208 non-general fund, $20,9651 for capital projects, a total budget of $59,922,708 had been proposed, with an advance to public safety of $1,260,712.
By June 30, after all proposed transfers, the General Fund Contingency Reserve is projected to be $4,064,050, the Capital Projects Reserve is projected to be $4,221,667, and the Development Services Fund Balance is projected to be $500,000. The Unreserved funds are projected at $500,000.
“I don’t know how we can approve this budget without understanding what [a workshop on the levy] looks like,” explained Councilman Andrew Kotyuk. “If we don’t have a plan now, I’m afraid we won’t have a plan.”
Kotyuk wanted an extension to work with staff before adopting any particular budget, but also recommended adopting it and trying to bring something back to Council.
Ultimately, City Council approved the 2017-2018 Fiscal Year Budget unanimously with the exception of Kotyuk.
The meeting adjourned in honor of the seven sailors that recently lost their lives aboard the USS Fitzgerald June 17 when their destroyer collided with a merchant ship off Japan.