Tuesday night’s city council meeting was brief and highlighted two major things: the updated budget and the Cotati resident survey. The Cotati resident survey blew past the expectations of the city council. As of Tuesday night’s presentation, there were 182 responses with more pouring in all the time. The responses to the survey showed the community members are engaged and want their voices heard.
The meeting started out with a run down of the July budget. Covid-19 lockdowns have hurt businesses and revenue, but the city is doing fairly well overall according to the Director of Administrative Services, Angela Courter.
Some highlights from Courter’s report included the Overall Sales Tax and Property Taxes accounting for 78.7 percent of all General Fund Source Revenues. Voter approved Measure G is 28.35 percent. Countywide pools jumped up much higher than were estimated, Wayfair-Online retail reported new taxes. Community members in the open session pointed out the amount of Wayfair signs in Cotati and larger than projected point of sale activity from local merchants.
Courter also pointed out $140,000 in the first quarter of 2020 (approximately 50 percent less than anticipated) because of the pandemic lockdown. Restrictions, statewide late fillings, 90-day and 12-month state tax deferral programs were also included in the report. Courter said reopening has occurred more rapidly than estimated, allowing businesses to start rebounding in the 2020-21 fiscal year.
Finally, Courter pointed out some of Cotati’s major industries that are growing, which are mostly open during SIP. They include home improvement, food and drug and the building/construction outlook is improved. Declines are in fuel, general consumer goods and restaurants, that are expected to be down for the year.
The next portion included the public comment section where members of the new group against Racism (Cotati core against Racism) talked about their experience meeting with each member of the council. The group was pleased at how receptive the council was with hearing them out and understanding. City Manager, Damien O’Bid, announced there will be a Public Safety Town Hall meeting on July 22 starting at 6 p.m if community members are interested in attending online.
With the consent calendar being approved, it brought the meeting to the most important item of the night, which was the Cotati City Council Community Survey. As mentioned above, this survey blew away the expectations of the council with Mark Landman and Susan Harvey commenting at how impressed they were with the responses and comments. The responses and comments are available on the city council’s website.
City Manager O’Bid ran through the results of the survey, that included five questions for residents to rank from most important to least important with one being most important and five being not as important.
Of the 182 responses received, maintaining local 911 emergency dispatch and the police department services ranked as the top priority with an average score of 1.9. Next, with a score of 2.6 was preparing for emergencies and natural disaster response, followed by maintaining fiscal stability with locally controlled funding that cannot be taken by the state at 3.0. Then was fixing potholes and repairing streets to improve safety for walkers, cyclists and driving as well as local first responders scoring 3.5 and finally with a score of 3.6 was maintaining domestic violence response services.
These five, according to the city manager, have been consistently ranked as the top priorities for community members, so it’s not surprising to see the results work out that way. Most of the comments, according to O’Bid, were regarding the police, fixing the roads and making sure people are not speeding. When asked by Vice Mayor John Moore about how long the survey will stay up, O’Bid said until the end of the week, so community members still have time to fill out the survey if they want to.
The meeting wrapped up with O’Bid updating the community and the council on the restrictions re-imposed by Governor Newsom covering all indoor services. These include restaurants, gyms, movie theaters, bars, houses of worship, etc. Anything inside where you aren’t with your family is banned for three weeks, O’Bid said.
If Sonoma County gets the infection rate down, these services will open back up on August 2, but if the county does not get the rate down these businesses will more than likely stay closed, O’Bid said. Sonoma County, for those who aren’t familiar, is one of 30 counties ordered by Governor Newsom to cease all indoor operations until further notice.
O’Bid also updated the rule on reusable grocery bags. Community members can bring in their own bags as long as they are kept in the cart. To limit contact with the clerks, community members should avoid putting the bags on the conveyor belt or check out counters. Finally, O’Bid again talked about how the city is preparing for a power shut off. Since it has been so hot, it might happen sooner this year.
The meeting concluded with Council Member John Dell’Osso and Mayor Wendy Skillman issuing a mask warning to the city.
“Please wear a face covering and social distance when you go out,” Dell’Osso said. “We have a chance to get back to normal, but it’s up to us to do that.”