PASO ROBLES — The Paso Robles City Council met virtually on Tuesday, Sept. 1, with a few technical difficulties. The start of the meeting, including the first three presentations, were not streamed live online. 

The three presentations included: a Constitution Week Proclamation, a COVID-19 Community Update, and an update on the Temporary Homeless Shelter. 

The public hearing for the Beechwood Specific Plan was pushed to the next meeting. Council was expected to consider Planning Commission recommendations. 

The Beechwood Specific Plan was continued because negotiations between the developer and the City were not completed in time for this week’s meeting. Council will continue this item to the City Council meeting on Sept. 15.

Council approved nearly all of the consent agenda. One was pulled to highlight that the City made a $2.7 million loan repayment to the State for a low-interest loan for Wastewater Treatment upgrades and directed $1 million to water utilities, mainly the final work stages at the 21st Street reservoir.

Some homeowners expressed to the Council that their home insurance premiums are rising. 

The Insurance Services Office (ISO), an independent organization that serves insurance companies by providing property and casualty insurance risk, evaluated the City of Paso Robles.

Paso Robles received a score of 71% or 75/105 from ISO. The City earned the same score in 2020 as it did in its 2014 evaluation, 03/3X. A 3X category represents a Class 9 rating, the lowest rating available. The 3X pertains to properties farther from the City’s fire stations and fire hydrants. According to City staff, owners of these properties can see a significant increase in insurance premiums. 

The City received low scores from ISO in five different areas:

  • Emergency Reporting: 0/15
  • Emergency Dispatch Protocols: 0/20 
  • Training Facilities and Use: 0/35
  • Deployment Analysis: 6.04/10 
  • Company Personnel: 6.48/15

To improve the City’s scores, it will be necessary to invest in the fire department by increasing personnel and equipment. A Paso Robles Emergency Services 10-year staffing analysis outlines how the City’s deficiencies can be addressed.

This 10-year plan includes the addition of three captain positions, which will upgrade the two-person paramedic squad to a fully staffed third engine company. This addition is meant to increase response capabilities, reduce response times, and address service deficiency for northeast Paso. The additional three fire positions are to be hired by the end of 2020.

The City’s full ISO report is attached to the Sept. 1 meeting agenda.

Council approved 5-0 an updated Layoff Prevention Plan for City staff. The new plan, Graduated Personnel Cost Reduction Plan (GPCRP), updates its outdated, 30-year-old predecessor.

In addition to approving the GPCRP, the Council gave direction for department managers to evaluate where money can be saved. This is an effort to reduce City personnel cost due to the pandemic’s impact on the City’s revenue. The City has estimated a monthly revenue loss of at least $1 million.

To improve cost-effectiveness, the City has implemented the following personnel policies and practices:

  • Lean Staffing
  • Conservative Pay Ranges
  • Additional Workloads for Existing Staff 
  • Worsening Fiscal Realities Due to Pandemic
  • Update the Layoff Protection Plan 
  • Make Ongoing Personnel Cost Reductions in Concert with Service Reductions

The City is looking to make budget cuts in areas other than police, fire, and roads, which are its highest priority sectors.