The Rohnert Park City Council met on September 27 for their end of month regular meeting. It was a short meeting lasting 90 minutes. Two dozen citizens and staff were in attendance. The council approved a budget amendment in their continuing efforts to address the impacts of homelessness. They also held a public hearing regarding the city obtaining an associate membership in the California Enterprise Development Authority. Finally, they updated their Financial Crisis Response Plan which was last updated in 2018. Here’s a summary of all three items.

The Financial Crisis Response Plan is one of the city’s financial policies. When approved in 2018 the purpose of the plan was to provide an early warning in case of a financial crisis, provide options for decision makers, while preserving city services for the community and avoiding layoffs or benefit reductions for city employees. According to the staff report, in 2022 the city is in a different financial situation so some of the options identified back in 2018 are no longer available. With the purchase of the downtown property, changes in reserve policy, and the paying down of the city’s unfunded liabilities – the resources available to address a future financial crisis are now different.

Tonight, they identified options for the city council in case of a Level 1 or Level 2 financial crisis. Level One is considered moderate. Potential reductions that could be made to address that level, focused on budgeted funds which could be “reduced, deferred, or eliminated for up to two years without a major immediate impact on services,” The total of those options if used would be $3.75 million per year. As an example, they could delay vehicle replacements. However, these reductions would have longer term impacts as at some point the city would have to replace what was deferred or reduced. Level Two is for a more serious financial crisis. It involves withdrawing reserves, trust fund assets, or even some of the funds set aside for the downtown project. These would be one-time actions totaling $6.15 million which on top of the Level One reduction would come to a total of $9.9 million.

These are options or a contingency plan and by approving it tonight the council isn’t locked into them. Rather it’s a roadmap for them to consider when, and if, the issue arises. Council member Susan Hollingsworth Adams said she “personally favors doing pain upfront instead of spreading it out over time.” Councilmember Gerard Giudice agreed with her. But given that the options are not set in stone, they were willing to support the staff’s recommendation for this policy.

The agreement to become an associate member of the California Enterprise Development Authority (CEDA) was for the purpose of assisting the United Cerebral Palsy of the North Bay, Inc. (UCPNB). Cutting through the jargon and legalese, by approving this membership, holding a public hearing, and approving the issuance of obligations by the CEDA allows UCPNB to reduce its borrowing cost in owning its facilities and thus saving them funds to use for their clients. UCPNB is expanding their presence in Rohnert Park and will use the bonds sold of up to $7 million to finance or refinance, renovate, or remodel the facilities located at 6591-6599 Commerce Boulevard. The city will have no obligation, liability or responsibility for the project or the repayment of the bonds. 

The FY22-23 budget amendments were for continuing efforts to mitigate the impacts of the Roberts Lake Park and Ride encampment. It provides for an additional $155,000 in this budget. $75,000 is going for a Community Oriented Problem Solving (COPS) team Sergeant’s vehicle. COPS is the primary team dealing with that encampment and other homeless efforts. $30,000 was approved for Public Safety Officer overtime to provide additional patrol in and near that encampment. The remaining $50,000 will be used to harden the fence between Roberts Lake Park and Rogers Plaza. 

Labath Landing is projected to be complete and available by the end of October. Concurrently, the new camping rules will take place in the city. With many of the occupants being relocated to Labath Landing, the encampment is anticipated to be reorganized to comply with the new camping regulations. The COPS Team will provide a heavy presence during this transition to ensure a safe re-organization of the current encampment. Given these developments, the council agreed with the staff recommendation that options for a satellite public safety office in the Roberts Lake Road Area should not be pursued. The minor advantages of that satellite office didn’t outweigh the disadvantages or justify the cost to establish it.

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