City Beat February 2022

By Don Reynolds, City Manager
As published in the February issue of the Mission Village Voice

These are difficult and confusing times, and very stressful to say the least. As I write this report, I have learned of another beloved community member that has recently lost their life to COVID-19. Vaccinations, boosters, testing and wearing quality masks are all key words on everyone's mind (again!). I hope that by the time you are reading this, the new variant has peaked.

The City has once again asked that all businesses enforce wearing a mask when visitors are indoors at their establishment. This is true at City Hall, limiting occupancy to two persons at a time. City employees have been careful. We received testing kits from the State Office of Emergency Services Friday the 12th, which are available for employees and their families. County Public Health is working to establish a testing center in San Juan Bautista for the general public.

Tuesday the 18th, the Council approved the Mid-Year Budget report. The City's COVID-caused economic woes have rebounded in December, and the sales tax revenue (part of the General Fund) is exceeding the budget expectations by almost 80%. General Fund expenses are trending 13% below budget. Our General Fund finances are solid. Budget town hall meetings are planned for late April and May.

That Mid-Year report provided the status of the City council's three big initiatives related to Public Safety, City Growth (sphere of influence), and writing a community driven Master Plan for Third Street. After 5 meetings, the City Council's Public Safety Ad-Hoc Committee is favoring a security camera system for the City. A "Request for Qualifications" (or "RFQ") will soon be available seeking help from an expert to design a system for San Juan Bautista. We learned from the City Manager and Police Chief of King City that this is an effective crime solution and deterrent but it is expensive. The "Urban Growth Boundary Ad-Hoc Committee" is submitting a proposed new "Sphere of Influence" to the Planning Commission and City  Council in February. The goal is to reduce the City's current General Plan growth rate of 3% per year to a growth rate below 2% a year. (The 20-year growth trend is between 1-1.5% a year.) The Third Street Master plan will become a focus of the newly formed Economic Development Citizens Advisory Committee. They have already met twice this year.

The City Council also budgeted $175,000 from the American Rescue Plan funds to develop recreational activities through a proposed Joint Use Agreement with the School District. there is also a small amount set aside for COVID related Non-Profit and Business grants. The second half of this $503,000 federal grant ($251,500) will be considered for the new fiscal year starting July 1, 2022.

The import of fresh water continues to be a very high priority. A new rate study for water is underway. A proposed water rate increase is anticipated in March of this year.

That's all for now. Happy Valentine's Day.