Antioch Council approves hiring new business license representative, more labor agreements ending furlough Fridays

Residents, business owners share their concerns, complaints

By John Crowder

At the Antioch City Council meeting on November 25, 2014, council members heard from local citizens who expressed concern over law enforcement and city staff interactions with community members, and others who suggested that a private firm be used in implementing changes coming as a result of the passage of Measure O. Meanwhile, Council Member Tony Tiscareno questioned the expenses involved in a grant application, the council voted to appoint two local advocates to the Parks and Recreation Commission, and the city continued to move forward with steps ending “furlough Fridays.”

Kathryn Wade was the first resident to speak at the meeting. Holding up a picture of her son, she claimed that Antioch Police Department (APD) officers had “trumped up” charges on him. She said that, although she has complained about the incident, nothing has come of her complaints.

Janet Barbee spoke about the murder of her son last year. She said that APD, “didn’t care to solve this case.” Barbee also said that, although she has provided them with evidence, “they have never called me back, they have never been to my home. If I don’t do the calling and calling and calling, I don’t get any response.” She said it is not fair that members of APD don’t get back to family members in this type of situation.

Cochise Potts and LaDonna Hartman, who own Nuce Nuce Deli, located across from Antioch City Hall at 101 H Street, said the city had threatened to shut them down because they had been barbecuing, but they hadn’t been shown any code references that would prevent them from barbecuing. Potts complained that nobody from the city would provide them with information.

I’d appreciate it if someone would get back to us,” he said.

When it came time to deal with the consent calendar, two items were pulled, Item E by Tiscareno, and Item F by members of the public.

Item E was a resolution authorizing the submission of a grant application for the West Antioch Creek Channel Improvement Project. Tiscareno questioned the financial impact noted in the staff report, which read, “the City must make a contribution to the project. This may be a financial match of the grant, an in-kind contribution, or a combination of both.”

The application was to seek an additional $1,000,000 for the project, as, “The cost of this project is currently estimated to be more than the budgeted funding.” It also required a partnership with a non-profit entity, and staff had selected the operators of Antioch Charter Academy II as the partner, saying, due to the school’s location, it, “provides a unique opportunity for the children to observe the benefits of this project.”

City Engineer Ron Bernal responded to Tiscareno, saying that the in-kind contribution by staff would be “the time we’ve already spent pursuing this grant,” along with the time of the consultant and time spent during the project. He also stated, if their is an additional cash requirement, they would return to the council for approval.

Tiscareno said, “I’m satisfied with that answer,” made a motion for approval, and the item passed, 4-0.

Item F was a resolution seeking approval of funding for one Business License Representative Position. The cost of the position was estimated in the staff report at, “$42,715 for the rest of fiscal year 2014-2015.” Two residents, Mark Jordan and Nancy Fernandez, both members of the Friday Morning Breakfast Club (FMBC), the group largely responsible for the passage of Measure O in the November 4 election, spoke on the item.

Jordan wanted to know why Antioch was immediately moving to hire a person to collect business fees. He said that FMBC had submitted a letter to the city suggesting that Antioch should hire an outside firm to do this. He thought it might make more sense to hire a company to do this collection, as they charge a percentage of the money collected, which might be more economical. He asked the city to, “seriously look at going to an outside firm.” Jordan also called for an, “open enrollment period,” and discussed the property inspection process.

Fernandez provided the council with a copy of the letter that Jordan had referred to. She said it had been sent on December 19, 2013, and written to the city council and the mayor by the attorney for FMBC. She said the letter called for the immediate hiring of an outside firm to begin collecting business taxes and establishing a database to be used for such collections.

As this is a “monumental task,” she said, quoting from the staff report, she wanted the vote to be put aside and the city to hire an outside firm to help establish a collections department.

City Manager Steve Duran responded, saying, “This position is a position we are going to need” and, “you can’t just hire a firm that gave a talk,” as it would require an RFQ/RFP process. He also said that he had recently met with the California Apartment Owners’ Association on the issue, that the city had money in the budget for this position, and he wanted to, “move forward.”

Mayor Harper said that several councils had spoken about uncollected taxes, and he asked Duran why this issue had not been previously addressed.

Duran said, “I think its really been a matter of, just the financial crash, of the economy and of the city in particular. We had to lay off so many people in finance, that they could barely do accounts payable and receivable, and there was no money in the budget to hire staff or consultants.”

Further, in response to a question by Council Member Monica Wilson, Duran said that, although they were seeking approval for the Business License Representative position now, city staff did intend to do an RFP to hire an outside firm to assist with establishing the program.

On a motion by Mayor Pro Tem Mary Rocha, the item passed, 4-0.

Next, the Mayor recommended appointing Lori Cook and Beverly Knight to the Parks and Recreation Commission. The council approved the appointments on a 4-0 vote.

Labor Agreements

Labor agreements were once again addressed when Human Resources Department Director Michelle Fitzer spoke about a resolution approving a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the city and the Treatment Plant Employees’ Association (TPEA). She said the new agreement was for four years, expiring September 30, 2018. Beginning in January 2016, there would be a 2.5% salary increase in each of three years, but there would be a 1% give back by employees in retirement contributions. The fiscal impact for the four years was estimated to be approximately $80,000, none of which would come from the General Fund, as all costs were budgeted in the Water Fund.

Finance Director Dawn Merchant then said that all of the money impacting the General Fund with respect to the MOU’s that were being discussed recently and the additional costs associated with ending furlough Fridays were coming from an increase in property tax receipts. She emphasized that none of that money was coming from Measure O or Measure C.

Steve Duran also spoke again about the MOU’s, saying the intent when furlough Fridays was implemented was to reinstate the 40-hour work week once the city had the money to do so.

Fitzer also said, “The total cost of returning from the furlough for the General Fund impact alone was $800,000 across all of the bargaining units,” and that the $1.2 million in increased property taxes, “is more than adequate to cover that cost for all of the bargaining units.”

Commenting on the votes which would finally end all furlough Fridays, Tiscareno said, “We are now a full-service city,” and, “we are going to be working 40 hours a week.” Rocha also spoke up, saying, “I just want to thank the employees for saving us from bankruptcy.”

The next meeting of the Antioch City Council will be on Tuesday, December 9 at 7:00 p.m. in the City Council chambers.

One Comment to “Antioch Council approves hiring new business license representative, more labor agreements ending furlough Fridays”

  1. karl dietzel says:

    hiring a new employee, collection department.

    again, no vision. as the fmbc suggested, it would have been a very smart move to hire a experienced company to set up a data base and the collection of the measure o , rental license fees.
    a company which has a track record of success, is able to establish a data base from day one, and would have been able to collect those measure o fees from day one.
    off course the company has to be paid, but after they run and built up the program, we, the city, could have taken over a full functional system, and data base in about 2 or 3 years.
    during that time, we, the city, could have hired a person, train the person, and at the end of the contract, we, the city, would have been able to have a fully functional collection program.

    what do we do? exactly the opposite.

    my question is: how seriously do we, the city, want our city to be back on track?

    to me it looks like nobody has any interest.

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