Alarmed city council members finally agreed after a spirited discussion at Monday’s city council meeting to remain a part of a new state authority dealing with the homeless, but only after being assured their costs would be “capped” going forward.
Some members wanted to rescind a Memorandum of Understanding to join the North Orange County Special Planning Area (SPA) following notification that initial estimates for financial participation jumped from $4,000 to approximately $41,000.
“I’m so confused,” said council member Shelley Hasselbrink, especially when numbers had changed not only over the past month, but apparently since the staff report was written before the meeting.
The confusion came after Council discussed whether or not to leave the authority after only recently voting to join a state approved authority of northern Orange County cities.
Finally, council member Dean Grose made a motion, seconded by Hasselbrink, not to rescind the motion that approved the city’s Memorandum with NOSPA, but to limit the expenditures of the city.
Grose’s motion allowed the city to remain a part of the North Orange County administrative district that purportedly includes, including Los Al, all 13 cities located in northern Orange County to more effectively deal with sheltering the homeless.
The new motion called for the city’s contribution for construction to be limited to a one-time $19,102, while the contribution for operating expenses be limited to $25,357 per year and that the operating cost contribution cannot increase more than two (2) percent per year.
Even so, Hasselbrink questioned why even those numbers did not match the figures on the Jul. 15 staff report, which were similar but not exact.
City Attorney Michael Daudt said the city had learned subsequent to signing the original MOU that the “numbers had changed” and that they “keep changing.”
Chirco said he was not opposed to the motion but wanted to be sure that the limitations would be enforceable and accepted.
Bret Plumlee, city manager, said if the NOSPA did not accept them, “we will not be included.” The limitations will likely be accepted, said Plumlee, “because I believe the other cities would be happy to have Los Al in the mix.”
Richard Murphy, Mayor pro-tem, even offered an on-the-spot explanation to residents who may be watching at home.
“We are trying to figure this out. It’s a tough decision,” said Murphy, adding that “anything dealing with the homeless offers limited options and is a moving target.”
“We are trying to bring this up to date where we are now,” he said, since “things have changed since we voted last.
The motion was amended to include the limitations and also, to increase a budget allocation from $4,000 to $41,000 and it passed 4-1. Mayor Warren Kusumoto voted no.
In another non-unanimous voted on Monday, the Council voted 4-1 to spend up to $1500 to pay for the expenses of Grose to attend an upcoming meeting of the Association of Military Communities meeting in Sacramento.
Kusumoto also suggested the city could spend $300 to pay for the “group registration fee” since other members, such as Hasselbrink expressed a desire to attend, but other than the official city representative, other attendees will pay their own expenses.
Grose, Kusumoto and Hasselbrink, who attended the national meeting, said the city can learn about valuable resources and funding sources to strengthen their relationship with Joint Forces Training Base, while Murphy voted against, simply saying “I can’t believe we’re spending any money on this.”
In other action Monday, the city:
- Took under advisement a suggestion from Finance Director Eric Hendrickson to raise the cap from $15,000 to $25,000 as the authorization limit for the city manager to approve various transactions. The Council various scenarios and options and will create an agenda option for official discussion.
- Welcomed three new Los Al police officers to the force, Michael Cano, Nelson Ramirez and David Rael Brook.
- Honored Los Alamitos teenager Jessica Ridgeway, the founder of a nonprofit organization entitled “African Sisterhood” that creates feminine hygiene products for African teens and women designed to allow continue attending school rather than getting married at a very young age.
- Approved a payroll increase salary adjustment for 10 Salary Executive Management and the Non-represented employees at a total cost of $93,000 to the city.