Public Works gets a reprieve on staff reduction for the time being as negotiations between its union and the City of Weed begin this week, and a permit fee is established for medical marijuana outdoor grows.

The Weed City Council approved freezing the hiring of a public works supervisor until July 1, 2016 but tabled discussion about reducing the department’s staff from current levels until the next council meeting.

Both possibilities were on last week’s agenda due to the anticipated need to reduce staffing costs in the city’s 2015-2016 budget, according to city manager Ron Stock’s staff report.

Councilor Chuck Sutton said he had “no argument” against freezing the potential new hire, but was concerned about losing Chris Davis.

“Public Works only has two guys on call and I’m worried about putting the department in a bad place,” he said.

Sutton noted that negotiations with the Public Works union was due to begin the week of April 13, and he requested the termination be tabled until results of those negotiations are known.

Stock said he realized that cutting staff would put the department in a difficult position, and suggested that perhaps “the union can help us figure out a way to keep him.”

“If we cut staff, we cut services,” said Public Works director Craig Sharp.

Drainage rehabilitation

The council approved a contract with Hayes and Sons out of Happy Camp for storm drainage rehabilitation work in the Shasta Avenue, N. Davis and Genoa Street areas, where drainage will be adversely affected due to the debris removal process after the Boles Fire.

Stock reported that the Shasta Regional Community Foundation has committed to funding 25 percent of the estimated cost out of its Community Disaster Relief Fund, and the Office of Emergency Services will provide grant funding to cover 75 percent of the project.

“Affected property owners have been contacted individually and all have signed on for the project,” he told the council.

Two bids for the job were received. Because the bid amounts were so close, Councilor Stacey Green asked if the council could grant the contract to the more local business even though its bid was $900 higher. Hall expressed the same desire to “hire local.”

City attorney Bob Winston nixed that idea, explaining state law determines that the lowest qualified bidder must be awarded the contract.

Grow permit fee

A $50 permit fee was approved for eligible people who want to grow medical marijuana on their property in accordance with the recently approved outdoor grow ordinance.

“To get a permit, one has to get an onsite inspection. We decided on as low a dollar amount as possible so it wouldn’t act as a bar but would be sufficient to cover a few hours of staff time,” Stock said.

In response to questions posed by Green and councilor Kim Greene, Weed Police Chief Martin Nicholas said the inspections will be done by law enforcement and the permit applications should be ready “in the next week or so.”

Green asked what would happen if a person eligible to grow and use medical marijuana grew it without paying a fee or getting a permit.

Nicholas said that person would receive an administrative citation.

Greene requested that the city post the requirements of the ordinance governing medical marijuana growth on the city’s website.

Rosenburg’s Rules

On Winston’s initiative, the council discussed the possibility of changing the municipal code to adopt Rosenburg’s Rules of Order rather than Robert’s Rules of Order as the official procedural document governing the running of City Council and Planning Commission meetings and meetings of other city legislative bodies.

He explained that Robert’s Rules were designed for parliaments with hundreds of members.

“Rosenburg’s Rules covers all the things bodies such as yours participate in,” said Winston. “It follows Robert’s Rules and adopts the parts you’ll actually use with operating rules we can all understand.”

Winston said that with a two-thirds vote, the council can at any time suspend any of the rules on a temporary basis to address an item.

The council unanimously approved the ordinance replacing one set of rules with the other in the municipal code.

Tax administration

Approval was also given to Stock’s request that the city be authorized to execute a contract with the State Board of Equalization so monies from the new quarter of one percent sales tax can be collected.

He said the administrative cost for the Board to set up the programming necessary to collect the tax is not yet known. Although that cost can be as high as $175,000, Stock said he expects it to be closer to the $68,000 cost paid by the City of Mount Shasta when it took the same steps.

“We only pay 100 percent of the cost if we were the only entity in the state to pass a transaction and use tax during that election,” Stock said.

Councilor Ken Palfini took the opportunity to thank the public for voting to approve the tax and for “trusting us to spend this money.”