City considers OHV staging area

The meeting of the city of Portola City Council on Feb. 14 had few agenda items, leading to a meeting that kept a brisk pace.

Public comment opened with local Larry Douglas speaking about creative aging, and the need to be water wise.

This was followed by city communications, with Mayor Pro Tem Tom Cooley attending remotely by phone. Cooley noted that he had been busy with the many ongoing ad-hoc meetings regarding the Portola Volunteer Fire Department.

Council member Bill Powers commented on the tragic high school shooting that had taken place in south Florida, saying, “We’ve had yet another school shooting. Unfortunately, this seems to be our legacy — a legacy of evil, and it just makes me sick. It really hit home today when I was up at Portola High School — here it is, Valentine’s Day, and this other school has experienced a shooting.”

Mayor Pat Morton noted her “many PVFD meetings” in partnership with Cooley, and in the absence of Council Member Phil Oels, Community Safety Officer Chuck Brashear gave his brief report.

“I’ve handled 41 cases thus far since the beginning of the year, with three new cases and five currently in progress,” Brashear said succinctly.

With that, council moved on to adopt the minutes and the consent calendar, leading to the four orders of business on the agenda.

Sport Success OHV grant

Susan Jacobson of Sport Success updated the council on the progress of the off-highway vehicle grant application.

The OHV grant would be put to use on 30 acres adjacent to the ball fields on Gulling Street in Portola, turning the parcel into an OHV staging area.

“This would be a staging area, not an OHV park,” Jacobson clarified. “Very similar to the staging area at Gold Lake, this would provide an entry point for riders to access developed United States Forest Service trails.”

The application is due in the beginning of March, and if approved, would lead to phase one of a two-phase acquisition project. The first phase of the project would be a CEQA study to determine the environmental effects of the proposed project.

Powers joked that the project may be “a deal that will cover our asset.” After minimal discussion, council approved the motion to allow Jacobson to continue her work in preparing the application for the OHV grant, with future meetings and updates anticipated.

Ord. 349 and CFO contract

The city council went on to touch on Ordinance 349, an ordinance amending Chapter 2.24 of the City of Portola Municipal Code creating the fire department.

The ordinance was introduced at the city council meeting Jan. 24. The council waiving the second reading. The ordinance strikes out many of the duties listed under the heading of fire department, as PVFD is a volunteer department.

Many of the general duties for the fire chief were stricken, with the only other notable change regarding the use of equipment outside of Portola city limits. The change to the ordinance states that no apparatus shall be hired out or permitted to leave the city except in a response to a call in an authorized area or in contractual services provided by the city. With that, council approved the ordinance by role call vote.

The next item of business was the renewal of City Finance Officer Susan Scarlett’s contract with Portola, proposed for another three years.

According to Scarlett, very few changes were made to the contract, aside from an additional section that was added by Scarlett herself to address the subject of record keeping. After very brief discussion, a role call vote renewed the contract, retaining Scarlett as CFO for the next three years.

City Manager hiring process

With current City Manager Robert Meacher’s contract set to expire Nov. 30, council began talks to set a direction for the search for the next city manager.

Staff suggested that recruitment and advertising should begin immediately, with a need for the council to determine and review a job description and recruitment process. Copies of the 2012 job description and recruitment flyer were distributed during the meting.

“This is the beginning of the process,” City Clerk Melissa Klundby pointed out to the room.

After looking at the 2012 materials, council member Powers noted that there were definitely some changes to make, such as the duties of the city manager, but that it was a good time to get the process in motion.

Morton said, “We will be making changes to the job description. We have asked Robert Meacher to go over the description and review for updates.” Morton also noted that it might be beneficial to first go to the finance and administration committee to set a salary. The council agreed that salary and benefits appeared to be the biggest hurdle at this time.

After some discussion regarding the 2012 job description, council moved to bring the topic before the finance and administration committee and to bring the item back to the agenda at the soonest possible future date. With a role call vote, the meeting closed.

The Portola City Council welcomes the community to attend and engage in meetings, which are held on the second and fourth Wednesday of each month at 6 p.m. For more information, contact City Hall at 832-6803.