MAY 5, 2020: COVID-19, travel and tourism, public works week, and community service updates

Received an Update on the COVID-19 Pandemic Situation, Response, and Recovery. Staff provided an update on the current number of confirmed cases of coronavirus in the County (202 total at this time), and reported that testing is now available in Paso Robles at the Veterans Center (and will be free for those who do not have insurance to cover costs.) The update also included reports regarding the City’s pandemic response efforts in the areas of food distribution, homeless services, childcare services, mental health, and wellness. Economic recovery efforts are underway, and Council will consider options on May 19th for use of the public right-of-way in order to facilitate the ability of local businesses to operate while accommodating social distancing. The State and County are both moving toward reopening, though the State has not yet given local control entirely to counties. The Governor is expected to issue guidelines on May 7th to allow some lower-risk workplaces such as retail to open with modifications (curbside pickup or delivery) as soon as May 8th. The County’s START Guide for reopening will not be able to go into effect until the State certifies that the County meets readiness standards and rescinds the current State Shelter at Home Order. View the presentation

Recognized National Public Works Week and National Travel and Tourism Week. Mayor Martin presented a Proclamation designating the week of May 17-23, 2020 as National Public Works Week and urging our community to pay tribute to our public works professionals, engineers, managers, and employees and to recognize the substantial contributions they make to protecting our national health, safety, and quality of life. Mayor Martin also presented a Proclamation designating the week of May 3-9, 2020 as National Travel and Tourism Week in Paso Robles, California, and urging the citizens of our community to recognize the critical role this industry plays in our economic recovery, growth, and future sustainability. In Paso Robles, travel generates over $450 million in annual economic impact, provides over $6.2 million in transient occupancy tax, and employs over 4,500 employees. Even while Paso Robles cannot welcome visitors in person, the spirit of travel and hospitality remains the enduring ethos of the travel industry in our community.

Initiated the Annual Levy of Landscape & Lighting District (LLD) No. 1 and Drainage Maintenance District 2008-1 for Fiscal Year 2020-21. The LLD was formed in 1989 to provide a funding mechanism to deliver to the public the benefit of street lighting, landscaping, drainage, and related facilities associated with various developments in the City. Economy of scale is achieved by combining the efforts for all maintenance services within separate geographic locations as individual Sub Areas or groups of Sub Areas known as Zones. Landscape maintenance contractors contract directly with the City. LLD funding is determined annually. Each Sub Area’s costs are determined based on the landscape, lighting, and architectural amenities associated with a tract, and the costs associated with the maintenance of those improvements.  For FY 2020-21, no annual assessment increase for the 4,016 parcels in the District will exceed $29.99 per parcel, for a maximum percentage increase of 8.75%. In all cases where an increase is proposed, monies will be applied to the operation and maintenance of applicable neighborhood improvements, most significantly increased water and power costs.

Appointed Community Services Department Advisory Board Members. Council voted to suspend Youth Commission activity until the 2020-2021 school year. They also reappointed Sharon Williams and appointed Marilu Gomez to the Library Board of Trustees; reappointed Dale Breckow and Gene Messina to the Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee; and appointed Rebecca Hallett to the Senior Advisory Committee. Appointments to the Library Board of Trustees will be for three-year terms; appointments to the Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee and the Senior Citizen Advisory Committee will be for two-year terms.  In making the appointments, the Council expressed its appreciation to these and other residents who volunteer their time and expertise for the benefit of our community. 

Waived Penalties and Interest for Monthly Water/Sewer Service Payments and Deferred Business License Tax Renewals. The pandemic is causing a cash flow crisis for many residents and business owners, which may hinder their ability to make utility (i.e. water and sewer services) bill payments and to renew their business licenses timely. The City’s own financial impacts caused by the COVID-19 emergency, as well as legal constraints, limit the type and scale of assistance the City can offer. However, the City has endeavored to provide relief to customer and local businesses where feasible, such as waiving penalties and interest for late Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT) revenues until August 31, 2020. Council authorized the Director of Administrative Services to waive penalties and interest for late water and sewer service payments during the duration of the COVID-19 emergency, and to extend the deadline to pay the annual business license tax renewal from June 30, 2020 to August 31, 2020, waiving any penalties and interest during this same time period.

Received Additional Budget Update Information and Provided Direction to Staff. City Manager Frutchey continued the ongoing budget discussion regarding the fiscal impacts of the pandemic, indicating that in order to preserve a reserve level of 20% at the end of FY 2020-21 will require cuts of $3.3 million beyond the measures that the Council approved at the April 21st meeting and maintaining a reserve level of 30% would require another $4.4 million in additional cuts. These reductions will have service impacts that staff will continue to outline at upcoming Council meetings. Council directed staff to come back to Council with an analysis of cost savings measures implemented, to present various options for Council to adopt a balanced budget, and to differentiate between General Fund and non-General Fund impacts. Council also directed staff to return with analysis considering a potential sales tax measure subject to voter approval, and the service implications associated with a revenue measure.

Getting through this together, Paso Robles