It’s not often than an issue not on the agenda rules the La Mesa City Council meeting, but that’s what took place Tuesday.
City Manager Dave Witt added consideration of what he called an urgent mandate, in which the state required the city to pay $1.9 million to make up for a loss in redevelopment revenues.
The new bill enables the state’s Department of Finance to withhold tax revenues from cities, which would have been distributed had the state not done away with redevelopment agencies.
The timeline of the payments—which had to be made immediately lest the city be charged an additional late payment fee of 10 percent—shocked and angered the council, some who described the mandate as a form of “extortion.”
The funds are due Thursday, July 12.
“We’ve never encountered a situation where there was this kind of turnaround,” Witt said. “It’s pretty unprecedented.”
Councilman Mark Arapostathis said the state is essentially, “reaching down our throats to take out a vital organ,” when people in the city, especially those in the education field, are already doing more with less.
The council begrudgingly approved the payment by a 4-0 vote (Vice Mayor Ernie Ewin was absent), but not before Mayor Art Madrid also sounded off.
“There are 120 legislators in Sacramento,” Madrid said. “Seventy-nine of them are former local officials, yet they get up there and drink the Kool-Aid and they become robots, stealing money from the people they say they represent. Mickey Mouse could do better.”
It is unknown if the city will have to make any unexpected cuts in order to make up for the payment, but it is likely that the funds will come out of the city’s general fund.
Witt said cities similar to La Mesa are also feeling the pinch from Sacramento, with some having to pay from $3 million to $19 million.
Witt said the state had a goal of recouping about $1.7 billion in funds from various cities and municipalities, which the state is counting on as part of its revised budget.
In other council news, Mayor Madrid made the following recommendations for appointment to the city’s committees, boards and commissions, all of which were approved unanimously by the council for FY 2012-13:
- Aging and Veterans Commission on Aging: Jeff Marsh, George Thomas
- Building Codes Review Board: Darryl “Bunkee” Gorham
- Community Services Commission: Gorham, Ginger Radenheimer, and an as yet to be determined representative from the La Mesa-Spring Valley School District
- Design Review Board: David McCullough
- Environmental Sustainability Commission: Charles Anacker, Mary Jane Bailey, Jon Wreschinsky
- Historic Preservation Commission: Gordon Jones, John Schmitz
- Human Relations Advisory Committee: Jesus “Jay” Diaz, Terri Pinnell
- La Mesa Community Parking Commission: Vicki O’Neil, James Wieboldt
- Local Committee for Real Estate Rehabilitation: Alfred Duran
- Personnel Appeals Board: Deborah Ives
- Planning Commission: Linda Keene, Dexter Levy (John Schmitz removed his name from consideration at the meeting)
- Traffic Commission: Carol Neal
In two separate presentations:
- La Mesa police Officer Dale Perry was named Police Officer of the Year and presented the recognition by Councilwoman Ruth Sterling. Perry is one of the top robbery investigators in the city, said Police Chief Ed Aceves. Perry’s work throughout the year on a series of robberies have led to arrests numbering in the double-digits.
- The San Diego County Library received the 2012 Library Journal/Gale Cengage Library of the Year Award. Jose Aponte, head of the San Diego County Library system, said that there are more items circulated in the La Mesa branch than in the San Diego Downtown Branch.
CORRECTION: It was previously reported that John Schmitz removed his name from consideration from the Historic Preservation Commission. He was actually reappointed to this commission, not Terry Hovland. Schmitz removed his name from consideration for the Planning Commission.