Tomorrow's City Council Meeting Agenda

The Novato City Council will meet January 28 and cover a variety of topics including the Grant Avenue Bridge, the Novato Theater and a fiscal sustainability plan.

Like local politics or loathe them, meetings happen and votes are made.

Tomorrow's city council meeting has a variety of topics that will be of interest to some citizens. Below is a partial list of items to be covered. Please look at the city website to view a full list. If you feel strongly about an issue or have questions, this is an opportunity to make yourself heard.

Public Comments (Approximately 7 pm)

This comment session is for items not on the agenda or for items listed on the Consent Calendar. See agenda cover page for information about Public Comment periods and associated protocol.


Novato Theater Group will make a presentation to update the city council on their progress.

Consent Calendar

Consent calendar items are voted on as an entire package, not individually.

Appointment of Downtown Business Improvement District Board of Directors

Consider accepting and appointing the duly elected Board of Directors of the Downtown Novato Business Association as the Downtown Business Improvement District Board for calendar year 2014.

Grant Avenue Bridge Rehabilitation Consider authorizing the City Manager to execute a Consultant Services Agreement (CSA) with GHD, Inc. for preparation of studies and documents required for environmental certification for the Grant Avenue Bridge Rehabilitation.

Adoption of A Resolution to Apply to The Bay Area Air Quality Management District for A Grant To Fund New Bicycle Racks for Installation in Novato

Consider adopting a resolution to authorize the City Manager or his designee to apply to the Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD) for a grant to fund new bike racks under the Bicycle Rack Voucher Project.

Community Pool at Hamilton Agreement for Aquatic Services

Consider adopting a resolution authorizing the City Manager to approve an agreement extension between the City of Novato and the City of San Rafael for Aquatic Program Services at the Hamilton Pool.

General Business

Fiscal Sustainability Plan – Deliberation and Possible Decision

Continue deliberations about the Council’s preferred long-term fiscal sustainability plan. Provide staff direction on the baseline sustainability assumptions, the preferred fiscal sustainability scenario, and a timeline for additional revenue.

Recommended to continue deliberations and provide direction on the Council's preferred long-term fiscal sustainability plan.

The meeting will be held at the Novato City Hall Council Chambers, 901 Sherman Avenue tomorrow, Tuesday night at 6:30 pm. More details can be found at the city's website www.novato.org

Tell us, will you be attending the meeting?
Roger January 27, 2014 at 09:41 PM
Rem: Thanks for doing this new feature. Please keep it up for all future City Council meetings. It alerts citizens to the agenda for the next day's meeting and citizens then can decide whether to attend.
Sylvia Barry January 28, 2014 at 12:40 AM
Rem - Please note that Novato Theater Presentation is actually at 6:30pm. Public comment comes after that, at around 6:45pm, per city council meeting agenda. You might want to make sure that's mentioned in the article as it's confusing.
Tina McMillan January 28, 2014 at 12:41 PM
Rem: Thank you for posting links to agendas. I am curious what options the city has to deliberate fiscal sustainability when they have said over and over again that there isn't enough money to cover costs without a tax increase. ============================================ Here are the three options provided in the report: "If the above assumptions are correct, then there are very few possibilities to achieve sustainability. As outlined by the City Manager, these three options are: 1. Status Quo – The City continues to monitor its budget year-by-year, and only adds staffing, compensation increases, and infrastructure funding, when existing revenues allow. This is not a plan - this is essentially how the City has always operated. 2. Postpone Decision / Utilize One-Time Revenues – This option postpones a decision about new revenues to a future date and acknowledges that the City will plan to use one-time revenues until such a decision is made. One-time revenues would mostly consist of Measure F funds, but could also be supplemented by property sales and other one-time monies. 3. New Ongoing Revenues – To fund all of the baseline assumptions, as outlined above, City staff estimates that Novato needs to secure approximately $4 million in ongoing revenues. These revenues could come from a combination of sources, including economic development, new voter approved taxes, infrastructure bonds, etc."
Brant January 28, 2014 at 12:58 PM
Tina, thanks for the quotes. It helps greatly to understand what the Council will actually consider. Unfortunately, option 3, new taxes, is also not sustainable - the taxpayers can not afford it. The Status Quo is the best candidate. It has been experience-tested. It is not fun, especially for the Council and managers who must regularly make unpopular decisions about spending, but it works.
Tina McMillan January 28, 2014 at 01:00 PM
The third option in the fiscal sustainability plan, would include making Measure F permanent and floating a bond measure to cover the costs to continue to repair city streets since the Measure B coffers are now empty. ============================================ New ongoing revenues take time. Development of North Redwood and other commercial areas takes time. Novato has little time to spare. Eventually they will bring in more revenue but in the meantime is there a single plan that could save the city money? ============================================ When he began working for the city of Novato, Mr. Frank was given a very generous interest only home loan. The city is carrying the weight of an employee that negatively affects its bottom line. As city manager, Mr. Frank has somewhat of a conflict of interest. If a new employee were to suggest that they needed this kind of enticement the city would look to Mr. Frank for guidance. Can you see the dilemma? ============================================ If Mr. Frank were to refinance this loan he could repay the city approximately $664,000. Currently Mr. Frank is only paying nominal interest on the loan. With his salary increase of approximately $6600 a year, Mr. Frank would qualify for today's generous interest rates on a 30 year fixed mortgage and like the rest of Novato, could then carry his own weight. ============================================ I am still waiting for this option to appear in any of the plans Mr. Frank suggests for long term fiscal sustainability.
Tina McMillan January 28, 2014 at 01:13 PM
Brant: I think the city has to show residents that it will focus on creating new jobs and development of the Redwood Corridor to add to its sales tax base before they consider making any kind of increase to sales tax permanent. Sales tax is regressive. It hurts people who have the least the most. 9% already seems excessive. ============================================ If the city can tighten its belt with respect to decisions like the one to build offices in Old Town (seemed more like vanity than practicality when Class B offices were selling for a song) it will likely have to create bonds to continue repairing city streets. ============================================ Unfortunately bonds hurt home owners the most. Property taxes cover the largest share of city costs and homeowners bear the brunt of any badly made decision. 20 million to build offices on prime retail space without parking for Old Town merchants was a waste of money, bad planning and now we have another eyesore, that looks too big for its footprint to show for it.
Brant January 28, 2014 at 01:32 PM
Tina, thank you for your feedback. IMHO, the City needs to make its case to the people and to then ask for appropriate financial support. Recent Patch info suggests that Measure F funds have not all been spent. Congratulations to the Council for frugality. Now, what we need is an understandable but detailed financial statement accompanied by detailed information on the cost bases of all major items (employment levels, productivity, salaries and benefits, contract services, etc.) and how those costs track into the services provided. The residents of Novato are intelligent and caring people who know that they must fund the things that are important to them. With explanation and discussion, I would expect them to vote so to do - within the limits of what they can sustain.
Tina McMillan January 28, 2014 at 02:14 PM
Brant: If you go to the city website Mr. Frank has outlined information on a spreadsheet showing what positions would be retained and how money would be spent. The Measure F commission has done the same. It is my understanding that we are sitting on the Measure F money because we took $6million out of the RDA to put into city offices that the state wants back. The argument is that we were being repaid a loan, at 10%. I don't know where the lawsuit is but it would be worth asking about. If we live beyond out means as a city we are in big trouble. We are not even talking about pension and other long term costs. Just our day to day expenses.
Maggie January 28, 2014 at 07:42 PM
@ Roger, you can sign up for enotifications from the city website at www.novato.org - the agendas will be sent to your inbox.
Gail Wilhelm January 28, 2014 at 10:39 PM
The city offices are a fait accompli. Could somebody explain why some opponents feel compelled continue to reiterate their losing arguments ad nauseum. Reminds me of the Republicans in Washington who lost the argument over the Affordable Care Act. Brain dead politics I guess.
Trailbikerbilly January 28, 2014 at 11:40 PM
For the same reason we still hate Hitler. Those who voted for this fiasco want us to forget, but it's hard to forget when we will have to pay for it for many years.
Tina McMillan January 29, 2014 at 12:08 AM
Wow Gail, are you really arguing that anyone that believes the cost of the city offices wasn't worth the result is "brain dead"? Not only is it a cheap shot but one that is unbecoming even for you.
Roger January 29, 2014 at 12:54 AM
Tonight it sounds like some council members really want to extend the extra sales tax (Measure F) beyond the current 2015 sunset. It was first approved by the voters as a temporary tax. Voters like me don't like to be lied to.
Trailbikerbilly January 29, 2014 at 02:07 AM
Why is Wilhelmina trying to tell us to forget our past? To forget the past is to repeat it. Gail's past is coming back to haunt her.
Roger January 29, 2014 at 10:48 AM
It was nice to hear Lucan say that he was against extending the Measure F sales tax. But he does want to add infrastructure bonds onto our property tax. Since pension costs are a big part of the budget, the Council should send a letter to the legislature saying they support the pending bill there on pension reform.
Craig Belfor January 29, 2014 at 12:10 PM
Sorry to gang up on you Gail, but we are our past. Forgive and forget doesn't work when we still have to pay the tab. The city of Novato has a money problem. We are struggling to pay our bills, and paying for this fiasco when the old building sits vacant, and we have 24% less staff that it held bothers me. We could repeal the sales tax increase, fix the theater, and still have money left over if we had not approved it. If we had just made it into more parking, the building on the corner would get rented faster, the theater might find more backers once they showed there would be parking, downtown businesses would profit by more walk by traffic, and possibly the increased sales taxes from the increased business would help out the deficit to which increased sales tax now goes. People who won't acknowledge a mistake worry me. I'm afraid they're going to do it again.
Tina McMillan January 29, 2014 at 01:43 PM
No surprise. Mr. Frank has been pushing to make Measure F permanent since last year. In a recent city council meeting regarding lifting the North Redwood moratorium, MacLeamy asked how much we would have to raise sales tax to match the revenue provided from a Friedman's Home Improvement Store. Novato's deep pockets have been empty for some time. Sales tax increases are the most regressive of all taxes because they have the greatest effect on the most vulnerable people. Imagine seniors on a fixed income paying 9-10% in sales tax. ============================================ Novato used bonds the last time they wanted money for road repairs. Now that the money has been spent they want to add more bonds. Does anyone know if we have paid off the previous bonds? If you look at a property tax bill it says, "City Bonds" but not which ones.
D. Cook January 29, 2014 at 04:42 PM
Gail Wilhelm's post is so short sighted and mindless it shocked me. If I had to peg her, I would say she is over 70 a life long democrat, "all about Obama" and she or someone close to her has milked as much as they could from the govt and the taxpayer in the form of a pension or some social programs. This person will be long gone when the outrageous spending and resulting bills our government bury us with come due. Wilhelm has no problem with "city offices" and other obscene expenditures that every level of government drop on us. Her selfish attitude, and others like her, will leave her with a tarnished legacy after she is long gone. "Brain dead" as she puts it will be part of that legacy.
Tina McMillan January 29, 2014 at 11:22 PM
Tina McMillan January 29, 2014 at 11:21 PM It bears repeating that the city council insisted that a Class A office building was the only kind they wanted to purchase or build, just after rehabbing the old church to become our new city hall, also at an exorbitant cost. These buildings are essentially symbols that the city uses to promote itself but they lend no credibility to our ongoing deficit or the city's demands that we make increases to sales tax permanent. ==========================================Novato is at a crossroads where it must decide between the cost of symbolism and the cost of running the city. MacLeamy, Eklund, Athas, Kellner and Dillon-Knudsen all voted to build the monument that now sits across from the police station. How much less would it have cost to tear down the old, condemned buildings and start from scratch with enough space for parking, offices, a community center and a city hall? It seems like the biggest mistake we make over and over again is letting nostalgia rule our wallets.
M. Manzano February 10, 2014 at 01:04 PM
I'll sure be glad when I say goodbye to more than 3 decades of living in Novato. It was once a good town to live in. I know it won't get any better. Good luck to the minority of common sense citizens against the Democrat-Socialist- debt producing agenda of your town, county, and State. California is history in my opinion. Best to take your money elsewhere instead of giving it to the thieves.


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