Settlement in the case of Emde v. City of Pacifica and Recology of the Coast
The city took a financial loss to the tune of a $55,500 and release agreement with a resident who filed suit against the city, Lionel Emde.
Emde challenged Pacifica’s rates for refuse collection services, set by an agreement between the city and Recology of the Coast, and further challenged the city’s receipt and use of city service fees under Proposition 218.
At the recommendation of the City Attorney’s Office, council approved the settlement because of the financial costs litigation can incur. City Attorney Cecilia Quick said Monday evening that it was her belief “this type of case” has the potential to be a “test case.”
In other words, if litigation were to continue, said Quick, the city may become involved in a case which “could take upwards of five years” and may eventually be presented to the U.S. Supreme Court.
With the city’s current financial hardship, Quick advised that it would be in the interest of the city to avoid an expensive ongoing litigation and settle with Emde. These litigation costs would otherwise have come from the General Fund, at the taxpayers’ expense.
According to a city staff report advising council to approve the legal settlement, “The city strongly disagrees with Mr. Emde’s claims and is still adamant that Proposition 218 does not apply to Recology’s rates and fees.”
The report made the city’s position clear, saying further that “The city is also confident that if it chose to litigate further it would prevail.”
Before the council meeting, .
"I think this is a very good deal," said Emde. "I think it’s a major victory for the rate payers--the certainty that the city can't treat the contract like a cash cow."
In addition to the one-time payment of $55,500 for Emde’s legal fees, the settlement would also cap the amount of franchise fees at $805,000 per fiscal year until December 2017 (assuming a 2% annual increase in Recology’s fees, this could amount to a total reduction in city revenue of $350,000 by 2017). The city will also eliminate a $10,000 contingency fee and limit its AB939 fees to $30,000 per fiscal year.
Council unanimously voted to approve the settlement.
Pacifica Police Department to submit proposal to Half Moon Bay, a bid to provide law enforcement services
Council voted to approve Police Chief Jim Saunders’ proposal to the City of Half Moon Bay for providing contracted law enforcement services.
The Pacifica Police Department had received the City of Half Moon Bay’s request for proposals (RFP) in January of this year, and Chief Saunders’ submitted proposal is the next step in a process that may place Pacifica’s officers on patrol in the nearby city.
If accepted, the police departments of both cities would then go into contract negotiations.
According to Pacifica Police Chief Saunders, the plan outlined by his proposal could save the City of Pacifica approximately $250,000 to $400,000 dollars annually. Chief Saunders worked closely with City Manager Stephen Rhodes to develop this proposal.
Though councilmembers could not see the proposal, and would not know its exact terms until it is to go to contractual negotiations, council approved Chief Saunders’ request to submit it to Half Moon Bay.
z“It’s a weird feeling,” said councilmember Sue Digre, who was commenting on the usual modis operandi of city council to see all the terms of a proposal before approving it.
Under Saunders’ proposal, the Pacifica Police Department would have two officers on patrol in Half Moon Bay at all times and is considering stationing a captain in the city.
“We can provide [Half Moon Bay] service exceeding what they are asking for,” said Chief Saunders.
Half Moon Bay currently has a force of only 12 officers, which means that there are periods where only one officer is on-duty.
Sauders touted the opening of the Devil’s Slide Tunnel as a “reliable way of traveling back and forth” between the two cities which “makes this feasible.”
Mayor Maryann Nihart remarked that it may not be too long before we see a “San Mateo County Coastal Police Department.”
The proposal process is open to other cities, but the Pacifica Police Depatment's proposal is expected to be one of two bids Half Moon Bay receives (the other is coming from the San Mateo County Sheriff's Office).
Financing City Services Task Force finds city on track with 5-year goal
The Financing City Services Task Force met for the first time on Feb. 3 to review the city's Five Year Financial Plan. A summary of the task force review was presented to the public and councilmembers during the city council meeting on the evening of Monday, Feb. 28.
According a staff report, the task force "voted to continue on the course as set out by the Five Year Financial Plan" which was adopted by the group in March 2010 and approved by city council in April 2010. It was then incorporated into the adopted 2010-11 fiscal year budget. The plan was developed to balance the City of Pacifica’s annual 2.9 million structural deficit to the General Fund.
This same report also says that to-date "[the city is] currently meeting the goals of the Plan."
Here are some important points, as summarized by City Manager Stephen Rhodes during the staff presentation:
- The voter-approved 2% increase to the Transient Occupancy Tax (a measure from the November 2010 ballot (also referred to as the ""), is projected to increase city revenues by $160,000 per year.
- 2011 revenues are meeting the expectations of the Five Year Financial Plan, to-date. While the plan projects revenue growth to total $25,661,383, actual revenue to-date is just shy of that mark at $25,638,171.
- 2012 revenues are "expected to be above the line."
However, the city's expenditures for fiscal year 2010-11 are greater than outlined by the Five Year Financial Plan.
While the plan accounted for $28,074,331 in expenditures, actual expenditures total $28,570,235. This includes to the General Fund.
Mid-year expenditure adjustments totaled $243,000 and included $95,000 in overtime payments to the fire department (short-term disability compensation) among other items. Revenue adjustments totaled $167,892 and this gain offset the expenditures, but still left the fund with a negative net change of -$75,108.
The Financing City Services Task Force will meet again in July, and bi-annually thereafter to review the plan.
"Cities and the state will continue to grapple with the recession for the next three to five years, if not longer," said Pacifica Finance Director Ann Ritzma, who had recently attended a meeting of California state's finance director.