Thursday, March 9, 2017

• City Council Meeting March 2017

The meeting started with a presentation by the Ronald Reagan Elementary AVID group. 
Top row: Bridgette Moore, Tim Walker (Mayor), Ben Benoit, Dustin Nigg, Marsha Swanson. Bottom row: Deanna Steria, Leah, Hannah, Ira, Jeremy and Principal Nori Chandler.

AVID stands for Advancement Via Individual Determination. 

• The fire department update stats included 229 calls being handled through station 61, with 181 of those being medical.

PUBLIC COMMENTS (non agenda items)

• Ken Mayes touched on the new email restrictions that apply to city officials, the broken guardrail at the Palomar/Mission Trail juncture, the Freedom Swing, zip codes, bus benches/shelters, and Measure Z committee members email accounts. He wasn't all too happy that three emails got kicked back to him, with failure notices. (Why anyone would write to a member of the Measure Z committee is beyond all imagination.)

• Andy Morris spoke as the current president of the Wildomar Rotary Club. He touched on the fundraising efforts to help a Wildomar Elementary student obtain hearing aids. There will be a fundraising dinner at the VFW on Friday April 21st. He also mentioned a Rotary Club event that will be on Saturday, July 22, at Marna O'Brien park.

Councilmember Bridgette Moore, also a Wildomar Rotarian, reminded people that there was another annual Rotary event coming up. A bicycle safety event, which will be at Marna O'Brien park on Saturday May 13th.

3.1 2016-17 Mid-Year Budget Report
The video link is below for those that would like to hear the info first hand. 

There were some changes suggested for the general fund.
• Asking for the addition of part time staff to assist with special events, front counter at city hall, social media, website and records management. (At no additional costs)

• Asking for funds for consultants, regarding economic development and state mandated reports. 
• In total, looking to add five part time positions.
• Truing up the budgets for police and fire. 
• There has been an increase in property tax revs by $117,000. 
• General fund balance is $973,787 (which is 10% of the budget).
• The HERO program in Wildomar (since 2011) has seen $10,500,000 in projects. Which covered 519 energy related installations, 384 solar energy installations and 43 water related installations.

3.2 Street Lighting Determination
This one came with more discussion than I anticipated. A brief recap is that the city (along with other cities in the area) have been given the opportunity to purchase their street lights from the power company. 

The question was: should they do it or not?

The advantages of purchasing are that the city would be able to retrofit them with LED lights, and would reap considerable savings in short order. The turnaround time is about seven years. 

There were three basic options
1) Do nothing, which would end up costing $700K (an increase of 20%) at the 20 year mark.

2) Purchase the poles and retrofit them with LED lights. A savings of over a million dollars after the same 20 years (a 25% savings).

3) Is where SCE maintains the ownership of the poles, and installs their own LEDs onto the poles (a new option that I hadn't heard before). This comes with a projected savings over the current model of about 15%. 

The nice part about option 3 is that it comes with no cost and no maintenance. The down side is that the savings are 40% less than they would be under option 2. 

In option 2, there is also the opportunity for the city to make a bit of money leasing out the poles to companies that want to "hang something off of a light pole." An example was high speed wireless internet.

At one point the opinions were split 2-2-1. 

Initially Bridgette Moore was favoring option 3, Dustin Nigg and Ben Benoit were favoring option 2, with Marsha Swanson and Tim Walker leaning towards option 1.

The final vote was 4-1 in favor of option 2, with Councilmember Swanson voting no. 

During the public comments, Ken Mayes mentioned the idea of the city looking to add solar power to the lights, so as to further lower the costs. During the council discussion, Dustin Nigg asked Dan York about such a thought.

Though it's a noble idea, the agreement with SCE would negate any savings from going solar. SCE is looking to charge $2.38 per month per pole regardless if electricity is provided by the them or not.

Though it will cause some short term indebtedness, it won't be costing the rate payers any additional dollars. Below are some pull quotes from the discussion:

Councilmember Nigg
• With option 1 we're short $35,000 a year. With option 2, we don't have the $35,000 shortfall [every year]. 

Councilmember Swanson
• I like option 1. I like what WRCOG has done and I think it's great and if we were a bigger city or had a higher amount of money in reserve, I think that would be my desire... it's real tough for me to jump into that kind of debt.

• I love the lights, I took the Hemet tour and loved what I saw over there and would really like to have that savings [here]. Even though it says "a 25% per year average net savings over twenty years," the first seven years we aren't going to see any of that. 

Mayor Pro-Tem Benoit
• I'm highly in favor of option 2, it has nothing to do with WRCOG or nothing to do with owning the lights, it's about being responsive to our citizens that have complaints.  

• Not only is there an option here for the PUC to give us a rebate, but the option to buy these —it goes away. It goes away this year and we'll probably never get it back again. Edison figured it out. They opened the window and said, "Hey cities, you wanna buy some of these lights? Great, take 'em away, we don't want 'em." And then, about two years ago they went, "Oh shit! they're all doing it. You know what, those are an asset and we don't want to sell them," and they closed the window.

• We have an option to direct staff to go down this path. Yes, going into debt, but you go into debt so you can save money. [In] the long term, we save money.

City Manager Gary Nordquist
• All the future lights that are coming into the town. We're 62% built out, we have 38% to go for development. What we're looking at is acquiring a franchise basically, and buying the future rights to all the other poles that will be coming in. The developers will be installing them, and they'll give them to you (the city) at no cost, and you'll have rights to those [poles].

•          •          •
All five council members were part of the discussion, and had valuable things to say, but many of their points didn't translate into pull quotes. Give the video a listen if you'd like to hear how it went in real time. 

Councilmember Moore did show concern about the city going into debt over option 2, as she noted we hadn't done that before.

Next up this will come back to the council and most likely wind up on the consent calendar, without any further council discussion. 

 Now just for some fun...

Below is the isolated part of the video where I questioned the math I just heard... plus some onscreen explanation.

The issue arose when Assistant City Manager Dan York discussed the differences between plans 2 and 3. Plan 2 comes with a potential savings of 25% per year, and plan 3 comes with an estimated 15% per year. 

He said that was a 10% difference. Sorry, but that is a 40% difference. So I spoke during the public comments wanting it corrected. It wasn't as bad as pulling teeth, but something as simple as correcting a misspeak sure took longer than it should have. 

It's not a big deal, and it's not like the wrong interpretation of the percentages were going to cost us money, but I'm just a stickler for such things, especially when I can't get a straight answer from a fair question.

City Manager Report
The part of the report that I'm highlighting is the discussion of the sinkhole on Grand Ave. In the 4 minute video you'll see Dan York talk about what is going on with it, and how it probably came about. 
A look at the sinkhole before the steel plates were put over the top of it. Click this link to see the video where Dan York discussed this, along with other storm damage, last month.

It's surmised that the aftermath of a fire hydrant being hit, with the loss of millions of gallons of water, is what has caused the cavitation around utility lines under the street.

At this point, there is no resolution, but a stopgap measure has been identified by Matt Bennent. It involves about 80 K Rails, that will be delivered free by Riverside County Flood Control, and also carted off free once the project is complete. 

There will be an update on this at the April city council meeting.

•          •          •

"I'm too much a skeptic to deny the possibility of anything."
– Aldous Huxley, 1894-1963

Wildomar Rap takes skepticism to new bounds and just skips the middle man by not believing anything.


  1. Something to look at when talking out the sinkhole on Grand Ave. that is migrating south.
    The claim that a fire hydrant was hit north of the location may have caused the damage rings hollow because the natural drainage in that area is towards the lake which takes it away from the sinkhole.
    If one looks at Google Streetview you can see views from October of 2011 (two large patches) and May of 2015 (ground is already sinking) where the damage is already noticeable.
    The other question that needs to be asked is why is there water still leaking into the Bryant Street Storm Drain (which is right under the sinkhole) which then flows thru Regency Heritage Park.

    1. If I found the right area, in 2007 the street had one appearance, and then in 2011 there was an asphalt patch in the street. In the image from the City Manager report last month (above) the sinkhole is just to the west of the patch (by a few feet). I would imagine that such street work would have paperwork leading up to the repair. I wonder if it was considered an average pothole and patched or if there were other concerns that were noted at the time?

      In the images I found there is a fire hydrant right there, but it doesn't sound like that's the one in question since it's west of the sinkhole and not "north" of the sinkhole which was the description in the video.

      It'll be interesting to hear the findings as they come out. The water is coming from somewhere, and storm runoff shouldn't really be a factor on an existing street.


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