In a time when budget crunches are plenty, Cotati City employees have voluntarily given up raises, stipends and benefits that equal a total savings of $444,000 for the city.
The generosity came from department heads, city council members and employees of the Sonoma County Organization of Public employees, which includes secretaries, clerks and public works employees.
The largest savings, about $29,000, came from the four department heads along with several assistants and the deputy city clerk. These city employees gave up their Cost of Living Adjustments for the year, which are abut three and a half percent twice yearly, The department heads include: Director of Finance Deirdre Grogan, City Planner Dennnis Dorch, Police Chief Les Wasco and Public Works Superintendent Steve Nommsen.
Police captain Robert Stewart and the Police Departments Support Services Supervisor Helen Millar gave up her COLA as well.
“We’re going to be faced with troubled times because of the state cutbacks,” Stewart said, discussing his reason for giving up his pay raise this year to help the city and to help avoid potential layoffs.”
City Manager Bonnie Long voluntarily relinquished her COLA along with a Redevelopment Agency stipend. Linda rook, assistant to the City Manager and Sara Anna, deputy city clerk and secretary to the City Manager, also refused any COLA.
Mayor Sandy Elles yielded her $30 per meeting stipend for her position as Executive Director for the Redevelopment Agency last year and was joined this year by Councilmembers Harold Berkemier and Jim Wirt. Together with the savings from Long’s relinquished stipend the agency will save $42,350.
Wirt renounced the health coverage council members are entitled to, saving the city another $2,786.
SCOPE gave up their COLA for the first half of the year, which will save the city around $10,000.
Cotati City Council selected applicants to commissions last week enabling one board to begin work and one appointee to finally stop applying.
Appointments were finally made to the City of Cotati’s Rent Appeals board, which has been out of commission for months since only two of five seats were filled.
“The full board is coming just in time,” said Linda Rook, assistant to the City Manager. “The last few months have been slow but this is the time of year the board starts gearing up for the annual rent increase.”
The rent appeals board administers and implements the Rent Stabilization Ordinance, hears tenant complaints, examines landlord petitions for rent increase and adopts rules and regulations to the Rent Stabilization Ordinance.
Seven Cotati residents applied for a seat on the Rent Appeals Board and of those, council unanimously agreed on the following appointments:
Bruce Bergen has been a resident of Cotati since 1982. “I have been a renter for 18 years; 10 years in Cotati,” said Bergen, continuing, “I am concerned with the difficulties landlords and tenants face in these tough times.”
Bergen is a member of the popular local group, Jim Boggio and the Sonoma County Swamp Dogs and has worked at various area restaurants and clubs as a manager, bartender and food server.
Katherine Marckhoff is a cashier and buyer at the Cotati co-op and has been a renter and resident in Cotati since 1988. She has also been a volunteer at City Hall recently.
Marckhoff explained her interest in the board as a way in which she could help to preserve the quality of life in Cotati and work toward fairness in housing.
A homeowner in Cotati since 1990, Patricia B. Rea is a retired librarian from the San Francisco Public Library.
“I deeply believe in the purpose and feasibility of the Cotati Rent Stabilization Ordinance,” Rea said in regard to her interest in the Board. “I will do everything in my power to deal objectively and fairly with the Ordinance.”
Patricia Jonas Volgaris, after over a dozen attempts for appointments on Cotati’s commissions and boards as well as the city council itself, was
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unanimously appointed to the community Services Commission. Volgaris, along with her husband, is the owner of the Self Yellow Checker Cab Company in Berkeley and has lived in Cotati since 1989.
Volgaris was one of three applicants who applied for the Community Service Commission yet she was the only petitioner who attended the meeting. When addressing the council, Volgaris indicated she did not have any expectations for appointment due to her record, yet Councilmember Miller suggested the council give her a chance. Mayor Elles and the remaining council agreed.
“I’m interested in the community in which I live,” Volgaris said in reference to her longtime interest in becoming active in Cotati’s government.
Irene Hilsendager’s column each week touches on moments in the history of Cotati, Rohnert Park and Penngrove.