NEWS

Council discusses long-term plans for homeless population

Lauren Steinheimer

Mount Shasta City council approved a series of financial decisions and discussed long-term plans for addressing the homeless population during Monday night’s regular meeting.

Finance Director Muriel Terrell presented a resolution extending an agreement with the recreation and parks district to continue providing water to Sisson Fields, a resolution to use residual CDBG funds toward two projects, and reviewed the city’s independent audit and December financials.

Water contract/rates

The city’s agreement with the Recreation and Parks District to provide water to Sisson Fields at the rate of $.0009 per gallon expired on Dec. 15, 2015.

Terrell requested to extend that agreement until the city’s water study is complete. “At that time, we will be able to determine a fair and equitable cost for the water to be used at the youth sports field,” she said.

Council member Geoff Harkness gave an overview of the timeline for the water rate study. “We’re going out to bid to find a consultant here next month. They’ll do the initial study sometime between March and June, and open it up for public comment toward the end of summer. Then we’ll start finalizing new rates toward the end of this year,” he said. Terrell confirmed the timeline was correct.

Mayor Jeffrey Collings said there would be an overview of the Prop 218 process relating to rate increases at the Feb. 22 city council meeting.

The resolution to extend the water agreement with the Recreation and Parks District passed unanimously.

CDBG projects

Terrell and a representative of Great Northern Services requested approval for two supplemental projects to be added to the CDBG grant in an amount not to exceed $105,000.

The projects decided upon were for small housing rehab and the installation of a heating and cooling system at the city park upper lodge.

Rod Merys of Great Northern explained that last year, the city spent a lot of program income to provide services associated with the CDBG grant.

The monies spent out of the program income instead of grant funds has allowed for the grant monies to fund other CDBG eligible projects.

Merys said the housing rehab element would apply to families who earn less than 80% of the median household income for Siskiyou County.

Terrell said the heating and cooling improvement to the upper lodge was eligible because that public facilities building provides a service to a group of people who qualify, the senior nutrition and exercise program.

“We can use these funds to add value to successful programs we already have,” Terrell said.

Recreation District administrator Mike Rodriguez noted the significance of having air conditioning in the lodge for the senior programs over the summer. He said upkeep of the system will be handled by the recreation and parks district.

The resolution passed unanimously.

Financials

The city received a clean audit from accounting firm Aiello, Goodrich & Teuscher this year.

Council unanimously approved and accepted the audit.

Terrell presented the 2nd quarter financial report for the 2015-16 fiscal year.

Her staff report states the actual receipts through Dec. 31, 2015 are $1,320,000, or 45.1% of the orignal budget. Sales tax is about 1% ahead of the same period last year, and TOT revenue won’t be received until he end of January.

The general fund expenditures total $1,508,000 or 49.9% of the budget.

Her report states using 50% as a target is a good indicator for where the city stands as the end of the second quarter marks the halfway point in the fiscal year.

Outside meetings

Council members Tim Stearns and Kathy Morter reported on the new quality of life committee formed to address transient and homeless issues in Mount Shasta.

Stearns said he wanted to work with the police department to identify the chronic homeless throughout the city. He said he’d like to include a representative of that community in the discussions.

“I think it’s important to get that perspective,” he said.

He said providing a place for homeless people to shower might be a good start.

Morter said she invited the county director of behavioral health to participate and is looking into possible funding from the Ford Family Foundation.

“This is not something we can study from a distance and just slap a policy on,” Morter said.

Stearns agreed it will probably be a multi-year project. He added the committee is still in its formative stages, but they’re meeting on a monthly basis and reaching out to members of the community to help address these issues.

Mayor pro tem Burns reported on changes coming to the STAGE program from the monthly local transportation committee meeting.

Some routes will be dropped and there will be some time changes to the schedule starting in a few months.

He said STAGE conducted a thorough, 18-month study to base their new plan on. The cost of maintaining an aging bus fleet has caused the program to cut out expensive routes that have few passengers.

Burns said about 50% of the STAGE busses are non-operational and the functioning ones have very high mileages.

Public comment

Afa Garrigan announced the start of town hall meetings at the Silk Road Chai Shop. Meetings will take place on Sundays prior to city council meetings at 7 p.m.

Sarah Jewitt asked if there was any development on the prospect of Mount Shasta police officers riding bicycles.

Police Chief Parish Cross said he started looking into it and thinks it’ll probably happen this summer. He added that bike patrol requires extensive training.