Police station committee report big improvement over previous measures

After nearly a year of deliberations, the Police Station Citizens Advisory Committee (PSCAC) presented their report to the Claremont city council.

The final report recommends a $17.5 million parcel tax based on square footage of buildings on a property, to be paid over 30 years. The existing police station will be retrofitted to meet current standards, with an additional 16,000 square feet of space added, for a total of 26,000 square feet.

Committee member Jess Swick presented the report to the council, noting the overall bond amount is, “a lot less than the 50 and 25 (million) of the previous committees.”

This is the third attempt for Claremont to try to pass a bond to fund a new or retrofitted police station—Measure PS failed in 2015 and Measure SC failed in 2018.

Under this new plan, the owner of a 2,000 square foot house would pay about $58.60 a year toward the bond if it passes, Mr. Swick said.

When this new bond will come before voters remains up in the air—the committee voted to wait to see if a possible constitutional amendment that would lower the voting threshold for special use taxes down to 55 percent, ACA-1, passes in November 2020.

During public comment, Terry Kennedy took issue with nearly every part of the package, including the apparent disagreement amongst committee members over certain parts of the bond. He singled out one particular vote, where seven committee members voted yes, three no, and one abstained.

“You need to find out about this no vote. That is significant and you shouldn’t disregard it,” he said.

Matt Magilke, the chair of the committee, said there was almost nothing the committee agreed on except for how to fund the proposal.

“That’s just an indication of how difficult this is going to be to pass, because everybody has a different opinion on who should pay for this thing and how big this thing should be,” he said. “That’s just reality.”

Jim Keith, who was also on the committee, noted that part of former mayor Opanyi Nasiali’s plan was to put people who were against Measure SC on the committee to hear from multiple points of view. Therefore, it was “not surprising you didn’t get a unanimous vote on these issues,” Mr. Keith said.

“I personally think that this is a very reasonable plan,” he added. “And it should be successful if we put our community effort behind explaining to our residents just what’s involved in this complicated plan.”

Councilmember Jed Leano called for a “drop dead deadline” of November 2020 on bringing the package to Claremont voters, in case ACA-1 fizzles out in Sacramento.

“If it doesn’t look like [ACA-1] has any legs and that’s not going anywhere, we can’t just use that as an excuse to keep kicking this down the road,” he said. “I think we need to be ready to go next summer if there’s no action on that.”

In thanking the committee, Mayor Corey Calaycay offered a quote from General George Patton: “If everyone is thinking alike, then no one is thinking at all.”

 

November tax measure approved

The council also approved a package of items that made the upcoming sales tax measure more of a reality.

The council voted 4-0 on a resolution calling and giving notice of the November 5 election, resolutions calling for written arguments, rebuttals and an impartial analysis by the city attorney to be submitted and a resolution directing the LA County Registrar/Recorder to administer, oversee and manage the special election.

Mayor Pro Tem Larry Schroeder was absent from Tuesday night’s meeting.

The resolutions are necessary steps to take in order to call for a special election to be held outside of designated election years. The special election also comes at an additional cost—$261,000 from the city’s operating and environmental emergency reserves.

The city is calling for a measure that would increase Claremont’s sales tax by three-quarters of a cent, from 9.5 percent to the state cap of 10.25 percent. The reason, the city says, is because of a rising structural deficit and a desire to take care of various deferred maintenance projects throughout the city.

The tax is expected to generate up to $2.5 million annually, the city estimates.

During public comment Matt Magilke said the budget deficit estimates from the city doubled since a September 2018 meeting of the Future Financial Opportunities Committee (FFOC), which initially recommended the increase.

He also claimed the city would bring in $27 million in additional tax revenue over 10 years, eclipsing the projected 10-year deficit of $12.5 million.

Finance Director Adam Pirrie noted the estimates presented to the FFOC in September were projections that were made before the city dug into the 2019-2020 budget in January. The deficit rose, he said, due to increases in PERS, worker’s compensation, insurance and general liability costs.  

In approving the resolution package, Mayor Corey Calaycay was tapped as the author of the in-favor arguments.

 

Police union continues case for pay increase

Members of the Claremont Police Officers Association (CPOA) were again at last night’s city council meeting to plead their case for a salary increase. 

Cpl. Isaac Reyes, who has worked for the department for 11 years, spoke during public comment about what he has gone through as a police officer in Claremont. The situations varied from chasing down suspects, dealing with traumatic child pornography cases, getting injured by a drunk driver and witnessing an officer-involved shooting.

“This council knows of our strong work ethic, and seems to hope that it will overcome our lack of support. It also appears the city council seeks to lump us in with other city employee bargaining groups,” Cpl. Reyes said. “I have a tremendous amount of respect and admiration for the jobs of the members of the other bargaining groups and the work that they do, but we officers and jailers and dispatchers aren’t the same.”

The CPOA sought a salary increase as part of its contract negotiations with the city, which had been going on since June 2018. An impasse was declared between negotiators from the city and the CPOA in February.

At the June 25 meeting, the city council pushed forward terms and conditions of employment with the CPOA, without the increase and without the group’s approval.

The city has cited a desire for equity among all other employee groups—who also did not receive raises in the past year—and the current structural deficit as reasons why the CPOA did not get raises. 

At the last city council meeting, Cpl. Nick Martinez accused the city council of not appreciating police officers. Cpl. Reyes took a more measured tone during his speech, but still insinuated a lack of appreciation and respect by the city and council.

He ended with a quote from Richard Branson. “Train your employees well enough so they can leave, and treat them well enough so they don’t want to.”

“Your officers here have a passion for the work that they do,” Cpl. Reyes said. “And we are well-trained.” The council will recess for the month of August. The next meeting will take place September 10.

More on this week’s council meeting will be online early next week.

—Matthew Bramlett

news@claremont-courier.com

 

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