Like I said, the need to keep Sierra Madre free of McMansions and the need to keep a Library here are not all that antithetical to one another. There are many ways of defining preservation. The real problem is money. The Sierra Madre Police Department has made itself extremely expensive to maintain, and will only continue to up take increasing amounts of the limited funding available to a small community of only 11,000 people. Something will have to give.
In order to keep the SMPD here, and pay for things the many costly things its members feel they deserve (such as CalPERS), it will need to continue taking up huge amounts of the General Fund budget.
And this is no matter what the UUT rate might be after April's election. Even a 10% UUT, should it pass, would not be enough to maintain all of the city's services. Something that was noted several times at last night's City Council meeting. The choice now being the Sierra Madre Police Department, or pretty much everything else. Including the Library.
Here's an interesting exchange from the comments yesterday.
Here is a pie chart of General Fund expenditures from the most recent City of Sierra Madre budget. You can link to the whole report here.
It seems obvious where the lion's share of the money is going. What remains to be seen is will people recognize that the SMPD is now too expensive for a small limited tax base community to financially maintain. And that balancing the budget without getting rid of a lot of other things first would be impossible.
Including the Library. Which under the Level 3 reductions discussed later in the evening would stand to lose $381,000. Pretty devastating.
But apparently the city's budgetary pie chart is not quite as accurate as it should be. This from a sharp-eyed reader.
So which would you rather keep? That is pretty much what it all comes down to. Because something is going to have to go.
Lead in the water
Dr. Baribeau didn't have any satisfactory answers about this apparently new issue. Or anything else for that matter. Something Mayor Capoccia pointed out. Doctor B. blamed the lack of ready city reports and data for her to ponder. Something that sounded like a dodge since those were the kinds of things many had hoped she would produce.
When asked by the Mayor if she would show as much initial optimism when chasing her next gig, she replied probably not. But isn't that what consultants do? Promise the moon and deliver far less?
But then the discussion last night on water didn't provide very much in the way of useful information. I guess we can kiss that $50,000 good bye and just wait for the rains to come. Hopefully significant rains. There never really was any other solution.
This month's fix du jour to the city's water problems is apparently spreading SGVMWD water, which will then somehow percolate down into the city's aquifers. How much of that water will actually get to where it is supposed to go seemed to be anybody's guess. The ground is pretty dry right now.
So why do it? I don't really know. Will it work, or is it just one more ineffective solution that will result in nothing more than more wasted time?
One additional upshot of this being a return to using water from the Sierra Madre's own wells. Even when it is dust cleansed percolated SGVMWD water. After all, things were fine before MWD water was brought in. This also means the city would then return to putting chlorine back in the water, which is something that should trigger some memories.
The water will clear up some day, but apparently nobody knows when. In the end it probably depends on whether or not the rain consultant El Nino gets the job done. It has always been about the lack of rain. Along with the decrepit state of the pipes, which apparently will cost $40 million to replace. There never was a magic bullet, and the city was probably foolish to have hired Dr. Baribeau in the first place.
They should have known that the solutions she offered when trying to win herself a $50,000 gig here sounded too good to be true. And far too easy. In the end the magic elixirs didn't work.
The matter of additional money for Dr. Baribeau became embarrassing when City Manager Aguilar could not recall some of the information from the original contract, and then suggested a recess so she could dig it out. Bruce Inman then stated that there were only 3 meetings promised in that document, and she attended far more than that. Especially with City Staff. Thus the $7,000 debt.
The City Attorney is looking at the contract, and the fate of Dr. Baribeau's extra money will need to be decided at a future meeting. Her report was received and filed.