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City adopts weed abatement ordinance

The Portola City Council met April 24 with a brisk agenda and approval of the new weed abatement ordinance.

Council members opened with reports, with Pat Morton and Mayor Tom Cooley noting their involvement in the first round of interviews with applicants for city manager.

Council member Bill Powers reported that he had attended a recent Rotary meeting with Mayor Cooley and Interim City Manager Leslie Chrysler, noting that the Rotary had expressed a wish to become more involved with the city.

Cooley also spoke on the meeting, thanking the Rotary for extending the invitation to attend and give a State of the City report, and for the Rotary presence at the meeting that evening.

After thanking attending Chief Bob Frank of Eastern Plumas Rural Fire Protection District for his quick response to the April 10 fire on Beckwith Street, Powers also noted that at the recent Thursday night Firewise meeting, no one showed up.

Council member Phil Oels also spoke about the Firewise effort in Portola, stating emphatically, “There are four or five of us really dedicated, and that is nowhere near enough. We need the entire community to get with us on this, fire season begins soon.”

Chrysler then reported on her work on the budget with City Finance Officer Susan Scarlett, and also briefly described the city involvement during that day’s full-scale shooter exercise in conjunction with Portola Junior/Senior High School  and multiple area medical, public health and law enforcement agencies.

“Planning by public health was amazing,” Chrysler said. “We had the Emergency Operations Center, or EOC, here at City Hall, and there was a CalOES observer here as well. I feel that we have lots to do better, but lots that went well today.”

Powers also noted his participation in the drill, stating that many areas of missed or slow communication were identified, and Chief Frank reiterated the need for ongoing work on communications during his report to the city. “It’s something we are all going to learn from,” Frank said.

Frank then gave a breakdown of the Beckwith fire response time log in his report, stating that on April 10, the call for a fire at 465 Beckwith St. had been called in at 1803 hours (6:03 p.m.).

“At 1805, EPRFPD was on scene, with the first engine arriving at 1813. At 1821, water was on the fire, and at 1830, the ladder truck was put into use,” Frank reported.

Frank then gave a rundown of the numbers EPRFPD handled for the first three months of the year. January had 33 medical calls, and no fires in the city. In February there were 22 medical calls, one brush fire and one alarm. During March, there were 16 medical calls and one trailer fire on Taylor Avenue.

“Eastern Plumas is moving forward in caring for the city,” Frank said. Frank also noted that EPRFPD would be doing fire safety education at C. Roy Carmichael Elementary School in the near future.

At this point, PCSO Sgt. Carson Wingfield spoke briefly, noting his presence at the full-scale exercise as well.

Communication is always a problem with a large drill like this,” he said. “Today we’ll identify areas where we showed need for improvements. I also spoke with the CalOES evaluator for the city and was told that there is nothing but kudos to the city for how they handled the EOC.”

At that, council moved to approve the consent calendar by roll call vote, and talks turned to the 2019 Portola City Pool fee schedule.

2019 pool fees

Interim City Manager Chrysler noted that staff has met and reviewed past pool budgets, as well as the 2018 and 2019 fees at the Quincy pool, and that the proposed fee schedule was in line with area pricing.

Chrysler also mentioned that she and Pool Manager Jennifer Condliffe had been speaking about the idea of a monthly fitness pass for lap swim and/or water aerobics, as well as noting costs to keep lifeguards on the pool versus revenues from visitors to the pool.

Condliffe spoke about her goal of bringing adult sport swimmers back to the pool, commenting on the fact that much like bicycling, swimming has been dubbed a pastime for children, however, “Biking is making a comeback, as we can see with the upcoming Lost and Found Gravel Grinder coming to town,” she said. “Adults have money to spend on their sport. The pool is for kids, but it could be so much more.”

Chrysler and Condliffe agreed that pool numbers, from expenses to attendance, would be monitored and recorded closely this season to gauge interest for future plans.

CFO Scarlett noted that in the future, the pool would be in its own department on the ledger, beginning July 1. At that, council approved the 2019 fee schedule by roll call vote.

Senate Bill 1 funded projects

City Public Works Director Todd Roberts and Chrysler both spoke about ongoing efforts to rehabilitate the roads in the city, with a focus on Senate Bill No. 1 (SB 1) and development of a work plan for the Road Maintenance and Rehabilitation Program (RMRA).

SB 1 requires the city to annually adopt a list of projects to be completed with SB 1 RMRA funding, and the list must be approved by the City Council at a public meeting.

City Engineer Dan Bastian drafted Resolution 2391 to meet state requirements, with the resolution outlining three patching projects to be completed with the estimated $35,786 in revenue for fiscal year 2019-2020.

In addition to developing the RMRA work plan, Bastian and Roberts have been working together to develop projects for STIP, RTP and RTIP funds. The city plans to request funds for three large street projects in 2023, 2026 and 2028.

“It’s a long process, but as with the A15 project, the best time to start is now. This is for the city, and we want to move forward,” Chrysler commented.

Roberts then spoke about requests for bids on asphalt services to help get roads overlaid with a paving machine.

Looking at the history of Portola’s roads, there are many roads that were originally paved on dirt without base rock, and Roberts noted that those roads have caused grief over the years. “Fourth and Fifth streets are prime examples of the dirt being exposed. We’re hoping to do a lot of paving.”

Roberts also said that locals may have noticed the many small eruptions in the asphalt around the city and explained that those eruptions are in fact groundwater leaks lifting the roads.

It was also noted that the road on Hospital Hill was a focal point, as it received a lot of abuse over the winter months and is a high traffic road in general. “EPHC is planning improvements as well,” Roberts said.

2017-18 fiscal year city audit

CFO Scarlett presented the completed 2017-2018 audit results, with CliftonLarsonAllen LLP of Roseville serving as auditors.

“The auditors were unable to attend tonight, but they reported that we had a clean audit, or in other words, there were no issues at all … and no management report of any findings to correct,” Scarlett stated.

Cooley asked Scarlett to briefly take a look at the two categories of funds, budget and enterprise. Scarlett noted that in budget comparisons, the audited fiscal year had shown the city to be in very good shape financially.

Scarlett also noted that the city was at 231 percent of its expenditures, which is an unusual situation for a lot of small entities. One thing that may contribute to that is the fact that retirees don’t have health insurance into the future, which Scarlett noted to be something that is very burdensome to all entities.

Powers commended Scarlett on her hard work and healthy budgets before council moved to accept the audit.

Weed abatement ordinance 353

On March 27, city staff presented the council with draft Ordinance 353, a weed abatement ordinance mirroring a successful ordinance implemented in Susanville.

Following review and discussion of some changes requested, it came back to the April 10 agenda with the incorporated changes for introduction and waiver of the second reading.

At the April 24 meeting, council adopted the ordinance by roll call vote, which will go into effect in 30 days.

Review of emergency action on North Lift Station upgrades

Council moved to continue the ongoing emergency at the Northside Sewer Lift Station, with Chrysler noting that two pumps had arrived and were to be installed April 30.

The Portola City Council regularly meets on the second and fourth Wednesday of each month at 6 p.m. Interest and participation is encouraged and welcome. For more information, contact City Hall at 832-6803 or visit cityofportola.com.

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