A hybrid community outreach meeting will be held Feb. 26

PASO ROBLES — Paso Robles City Council met on Tuesday, Feb. 15, for a regular meeting. Mayor Steve Martin informed the public that masks were still required in the council chamber. Councilmen Steve Gregory, John Hamon, and Fred Strong participated in the meeting virtually.

Starting Wednesday, Feb. 16, masks will no longer be required indoors for fully vaccinated individuals in San Luis Obispo County. The State mandate still requires masking in indoor public places for those who are not vaccinated and for everyone, regardless of vaccination status, in healthcare facilities, schools, childcare, homeless shelters, emergency shelters, corrections, long-term care facilities, and public transit.

A public hearing was held for approval of a deferral of water connection, sewer connection fees, development impact fees, and building permit fees which comes to $1.8 million over a 30 year period. The hearing also included authorizing the City Attorney to prepare a final fee deferral agreement for execution by the Paso Robles Housing Authority and the City of Paso Robles.

Getting through this together, Paso Robles

The housing project is the Sunrise Villas Apartments which includes 69 affordable family apartments located on the South Chandler Specific Plan apartment site. 

Councilman Gregory motioned to approve the deferral agreement, seconded by Councilman Strong, and the motion passed 5-0.

Julie Dahlen, Community Services Director, presented the five-year strategic plans for the Paso Robles Library and Recreation Services Divisions of the Community Services Department. The Paso Robles City Library and Recreation Services divisions of the Community Services Department provide a vast array of educational resources, classes, and family events.

The five-year plan includes four goals for the library:

  1. Branding and Outreach: Increase community awareness of library services
  2. Technology and Innovation: Adopt latest technology and innovations
  3. Diversity and Access: Diversify services to meet the needs of all community groups
  4. Community Hub: Be recognized as the hub for our community to gather, engage, and learn

The library noted some challenges they face to reaching their goals. Short-term challenges is primarily due to being short-staffed and lack of brand awareness. Paso Robles City Library is understaffed with 4.7 full-time employees (FTE) per state average FTE per 1000 population and relies heavily on its volunteers. The number of volunteers has dropped by 25 percent due to COVID-19. Because of the staffing constraints and reduction in volunteers, services are significantly impacted. 

The sustainability and growth of the library are dependent on City Council’s support and the ability to offer competitive employee wages and benefits to highly qualified professional librarians. As a result of being understaffed, the staff’s ability to create brand awareness through outreach has become nonexistent.

Long-term challenges include funding to expand library services. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there is an increased need for virtual meeting facilities but not adequate space to accommodate this in the current library building.

Recreation Services goals:

  1. Optimize Access: Increase community awareness of and access to recreation programs, services, and events
  2. Foster Diversity and Inclusion: Create equitable opportunities for recreation services and resources to meet the needs of a diverse community
  3. Forge Strategic Partnerships: Expand relationships with community members, businesses, and volunteer groups to increase involvement and impact on the community
  4. Facilitate Volunteerism: Implement appropriate oversight, expectations, and levels of responsibility for recreation volunteers

Council unanimously approved the five-year plans. An in-depth look at both the library and recreation departments implementation plans can be viewed here: prcity.com/DocumentCenter/View/33185/February-15-2022-City-Council-Agenda-Item-17-PDF

City Manager Ty Lewis, and Chris Huot, Assistant City Manager, provided the fiscal years 2022-23 and 2023-24 budget process and timeline. Due to significant economic uncertainty associated with the COVID pandemic in 2020, the Council chose to adopt two one-year budgets for Fiscal Years 2020-21 and 2021-22.

However, this plan prevented staff from fully being fully efficient. Based on the current fiscal outlook and the planning advantages that come with multi-year strategic planning, a return to a two-year budget cycle was recommended by staff.

Council unanimously directed staff to:

  • Return to a two-year budget cycle
  • Move forward with a hybrid community outreach meeting for Feb. 26 at 4:00 p.m.
  • Endorse the proposed budget development calendar

The goals of the Feb. 26 meeting is to:

  1. Review progress on existing City Council Goals to date
  2. Review staff recommendations on modifications or clarifications to existing City Council Goals
  3. Receive public and City Council feedback on any suggested modifications to the City Council Goals
  4. Receive a preliminary fiscal outlook for the upcoming fiscal year
  5. Review major budget themes and areas of emphasis for upcoming budget cycle
  6. Receive public and City Council in put on priorities for the upcoming budget cycle

The next Paso Robles City Council meeting takes place on Mar. 1, beginning at 6:30 p.m.