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Regional sewer project, PFE fees discussed Tuesday night

By: Stephanie Dumm News Messenger Reporter
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Multiple high-impact items were discussed during Tuesday night’s three-hour City Council meeting, including a regional sewer project and the amendment of development fees. The council spent an hour discussing a resolution to amend Public Facilities Element (PFE) fees for sewer, drainage, water, transportation and community services. A study of the city’s PFE fees was conducted by Goodwin Consulting Group, according to Lincoln’s financial analyst Steve Ambrose. “The purpose of the study was to update the PFE fees, in terms of currents costs (and) to establish a nexus between projected new development in the city and the new capital facilities required to serve the new development through build-out,” Ambrose said. “One objective of amending the PFE fees was to improve efficiency by making the fee program easier for the development community to estimate fees in their planning process and implementation for city staff.” The amended fees result in a reduction of 10 to 14 percent for residential development and a reduction of 13 to 15 percent for commercial development, according to Ambrose. “The fees are for capital improvements, not service costs,” said Victor Irzyk, a Goodwin Consulting Group principal, who gave a presentation to the council on the study. The council voted to amend the fees by approving the resolution with four of the five councilmen voting yes. Councilman Gabriel Hydrick abstained from the vote. The council also voted on two related ordinances, the first one to amend fees for water connections, sewer connections and drainage fees, and the second to amend the calculation of the traffic impact mitigation fee. Hydrick also chose to abstain from voting on the two ordinances, with the remaining councilmen voted yes. Prior to the council’s vote, council members asked questions and voiced concerns about the amendment of PFE fees. “Are there triggers out there identified so that in the future, whether things get worse or better, it triggers another study so we don’t get caught behind the eight ball?” Hydrick said. Irzyk said “there are no defined triggers.” His firm recommends the city do another study “if there is an increase in facilities or funding.” Councilman Paul Joiner wanted to know why the city’s annual adjustment for fees was “tied to the most expensive place to build in California.” “It includes inflationary fees for all regions and San Francisco just happens to be the closest area to the city,” Irzyk said. Councilman Tom Cosgrove said the city should be able to adjust fees in the future to match the cost of development. “That’s one of the biggest challenges I think we face at calculating and projecting when development is slow,” Cosgrove said. “We base it on the true cost today, but when we get to building it, it’s in a different environment when costs are much higher.” A concern expressed by Cosgrove was not having “collected enough fees to build what we paid for.” Hydrick said his abstention from voting a request was because he wanted more time to review the study. “Not to say that it’s not a good report, I just see this as being an important mixture to the fuel of our economic engine here in Lincoln,” Hydrick said. “Personally, I’m not feeling confident as to a yes or no vote. I’d like to sit down and have more time to sit with staff as well and give the public more of an opportunity (to review the fees).” Mayor Spencer Short said a delay in voting would delay the new fees past May 1, the date the fees are scheduled to go into effect. “If we take action tonight, it doesn’t preclude future discussion,” Short said. Representatives from the development community addressed the council about the amended fees. “We are fine with the fees as they have been established. They have decreased,” said Phil Rodriguez from Lewis Planned Communities. Tina McCauslin, the Meadowlands Project project manager, said “it’s important for the city to review PFE’s.” “Overall, I think the report was a good attempt at looking at your process, checking your variables and making the best guess,” McCauslin said. “I advise the city put checks into place to not get too far behind the eight ball.” The News Messenger asked Mike Lee, Twelve Bridges Master Planned Communities project manager, about the amended PFE fee schedule. “I think, at this point in time, it’s a reasonable decision that has been made based on a study,” Lee said. “I think this is making a really good effort to meet the needs of the development community.” Lee said it would “encourage development in the Lincoln community.” Update given on regional sewer project The council voted on a revised contract for a regional sewer project between Lincoln, the city of Auburn and Placer County. Lincoln city engineer Bruce Burnworth gave an overview of the project and talked about “changes proposed for the agreement on a deal point basis.” If the regional sewer project were to go through, $12 million would be paid back to the city from Auburn and Placer County for costs to oversize Lincoln’s wastewater treatment plan and sewer pipes, according to previous News Messenger reports. There is a “cost increase of over 2.2 percent over last year,” Burnworth said, and the city “has also agreed that inflation factor should be put in.” Burnworth said the project “can be completed by September 2015,” which includes a “year and a half float built into the project.” “One of the questions asked was would the city of Lincoln be willing to have the pump station and pipeline owned by someone else,” Burnworth said. “We are open to others owning and operating the conveyance system.” Burnworth also said there would be a “firm price for the first five years of operation.” “We were asked to provide an annual operation report, and we can do that and were planning to,” Burnworth said. The next steps in the project are for the Placer County Board of Supervisors to take action on the project at its March 13 meeting, Burnworth said, and for the Auburn City Council to do the same at its March 12 meeting. “The recommended action tonight is to confirm that the deal points set forth in the staff report are acceptable to the City Council, and that the final agreement will be brought back to the City Council for approval,” Burnworth said. The council unanimously voted to confirm the deal points for the regional sewer project. Bob Snyder, a former Auburn City Councilman, addressed the council before their vote. “I’ve followed it (regional sewer project) as close as any citizen has, and birthing something like this is difficult,” Snyder said. “I want you to know that at least once citizen appreciates you sticking to it.” Bernie Schroeder, Auburn’s director of public works, also addressed the council. “I have to share with Mr. Snyder my appreciation for the effort to get where we are,” Schroeder said. “It’s promising.” Moratorium on adult-oriented businesses introduced No new adult-oriented businesses can locate in Lincoln for the next 45 days while the city reviews and revises an ordinance pertaining to adult-oriented businesses. After very little discussion, the council voted to enact the moratorium, which would “establish a temporary moratorium on the establishment and relocation of adult-oriented business within the city,” according to city attorney John Hobbs. “The moratorium would temporarily prohibit the establishment or relocation of any business that exhibits or sells any adult-oriented sexual device or product, regardless of the proportion of the adult-oriented portion of the business to the overall business,” Hobbs said. “This moratorium will provide the city the opportunity to review its ordinances and return to the city’s legislative bodies with a recommendation for a permanent ordinance revision.” The last time the ordinance pertaining to adult oriented businesses was updated was 1989, according to Hobbs. The request to revisit the ordinance was made by Councilman Gabriel Hydrick during the council’s July 12 meeting, according to previous News Messenger reports. Hydrick made the request after a new business, Tobacco and Gift Shop (424 G Street) opened in June. The store sells cigarettes, cigars, and smoking accessories, as well as adult magazines, DVD’s and novelties. Manjeet Klair, owner of Tobacco and Gift Shop, said Tuesday afternoon the moratorium “is OK to me.” “Most of my sales are for tobacco, pipes and special cigars,” Klair said. “The novelties and DVD’s aren’t a big part of my business.” Completed FSC report discussed Tuesday night Fiscal sustainability committee vice-chairman Lee Guth requested the City Council schedule a workshop in April. The purpose of the workshop would be to present the committee’s report and findings to the council and residents, Guth said. The report, featuring 116 recommendations to the city for achieving fiscal sustainability, was given to City Council on Friday. The reason behind the April workshop date was twofold, according to Guth. “Many of us have made plans to reconnect with out significant others and grandchildren, those we hold near and love. We plan to do that in March so we don’t have a whole lot of time in March to meet,” Guth said. “As we stand right now, we are really looking forward to the first week of April, to allow you and citizens to read the document since it is 427 pages.” Mayor Spencer Short thanked Guth “for the hard work of you and your committee.” “We will take the time to fully digest this and then get in touch with you,” Short said. During public comment, two residents spoke about the committee’s work. “Several things stuck out, and one of the things that really annoys me is what does relevancy mean? They are talking about relevancy for the fire and police departments,” Gibbs said. “At one time, when this thing first started, the committee talked about doing away with direct control of the police and fire departments with contract services. That’s what relevancy has to do with this.” Gibbs was referring to the committee’s recommendations to determine relevancy for the fire department and to consider contracting public safety. The city would “lose control” of police and fire if those services were contracted out, Gibbs said, who suggested “no contract services for police and fire.” Vic Freeman spoke positively about the fiscal sustainability committee. “It just goes to show again that the citizens of Lincoln really care about their community,” Freeman said. “The city wanted citizen input and I think you got it and then some. I think a lot of good will come of that.”