Weed City Council members approved a contract for a water attorney during their Jan. 12 regular meeting while independent film makers from the UC Berkeley Graduate Department of Journalism filmed the meeting for their documentary on the water conflict in Weed.
The film is expected to be completed by early summer.
New council member Sue Tavalero was sworn in before the meeting's roll call.
Council members Tavalero, Stacey Green, Kim Greene, Bob Hall and Mayor Ken Palfini approved ordinances concerning the Public Works department and the human resources officer, made appointments to the Planning Commission, agreed to the sale of water from south Weed, learned a planning grant has not yet been approved, and were updated on two upcoming public forums.
Councilors were happy to hear the city was able to shovel snow for 27 senior residents after the last big snow storm.
Police Chief Martin Nicholas said that through Personnel Preference, workers were ready to shovel the morning after the storm. City Manager Ron Stock said it cost the city $600. Nicholas explained in a phone call that the quarter percent tax voted in by the city for senior programs and the library paid for the snow removal
To be added to the Senior Snow Removal Program, call City Hall at 938-5020 or the Weed Police Department at 938-5000.
Hall reported the Water for Citizens of Weed group is holding a forum on Thursday, Jan. 26, at College of the Siskiyous at 6 p.m.
The forum in McCloud Hall, room 112, will present an update on the status of water availability and costs related to the Water Lease Agreement, an update on the Water Resource Tax initiative, and information on the historic use of the Beaughan Springs for municipal water from 1880 to present.
Stock said a public hearing about Caltrans’ master plan for Hwy 97 is scheduled for Wednesday, Jan 25 at 7 p.m. at Weed City Hall. It is an opportunity for the public to let Caltrans know their opinions and what they think Caltrans can do to improve Hwy 97.
He mentioned possible topics such as the lack of a signal light by Scott Valley Bank to the southbound I-5 on ramp, no pedestrian signal at Boles, no sign at Pizza Factory, and trucks going through residential neighborhoods from the industrial sites within the city to get to Hwy 97.
Water attorney contract
After some discussion about whether to interview several law firms before making a final decision, the council decided to approve the fee contract with Somach, Simmons and Dunn.
Palfini said he felt they would be “remiss” if they just looked at one law firm and didn’t look at others. “This is a fairly serious matter for our city,” he said.
Palfini said that to have a choice, there should be at least two firms to choose from. Hall agreed.
Stock said the firm has worked with Weed on previous water issues and is recommended by the City of Redding. Stock wrote in his agenda memorandum that he has used Nicholas Jacobs of the Somach, Simmons and Dunn firm before – first to provide a second opinion on the water lease with Roseburg and again to assist the city in drafting the well permit ordinance. “I find him to be knowledgeable; reasonable in his fees; and responsive,” wrote Stock.
Palfini and Hall said when they met Jacobs, they found him knowledgeable.
Stock suggested that council could approve this contract and still interview other water attorneys.
He said it would allow council to “continue to see the work progress of this one to determine you like what you’re getting.”
Green said he agreed that having someone in place now was a good idea.
Green made the motion to “to approve the fee contract with Somach, Simmons and Dunn to serve as the City’s water attorney along with efforts to look for other possibilities.” It was unanimously approved.
Palfini said they need to make sure that whoever they hire “moves in the direction the council wants.”
Councilors approved an ordinance stating the city manager is the human resources officer and can delegate those duties to any other officer or employee of the city.
An ordinance that establishes the Public Works Department was also approved. A provision within that ordinance gives the public works director the authority to approve plans and designs for public improvement or subdivision improvement projects. Stock explained that if a design is approved by the council or someone delegated to approve the design, the city has immunity from a lawsuit. Public Works Director Craig Sharp said, “It’s not changing my position. It’s protecting us.”
Council appointed John Oliver and Donna Winger to serve again on the Planning Commission. It will be a second term for each and will end in December 2020. Council member Stacey Green volunteered for the open position on the Labor Negotiations committee and will serve with Palfini. Green replaces Chuck Sutton.
Stock reported that Union Pacific and the highway department have asked to buy water from south Weed, which would create revenue to pay down the water fund debt. Palfini said he would “strongly say yes” to the water sale request.
Stock also reported a $600,000 planning grant for water analysis that the City applied for last June has not been approved because of the controversy around the approved water lease agreement made with Roseburg.
Council also heard an update on events at the Weed Palace Theater and on the Siskiyou Economic Development Council strategic plan.