COWncil Roundup for June 9, 2013

July 9, 2013

The Woodside Town COWncil met to discuss the proposed Town budget for 2013-1015, as well as other matters, at its most recent meeting. All members of the COWncil were present.

During COWmunications, before the Consent Calendar, Maggie from the Farmer’s Market spoke to the COWncil. As you’ll recall from our last Roundup (link), the COWncil voted to not place a measure on the ballot to allow the Market to move to the Town Center parking lot. This threw the future of the Farmer’s Market in to doubt, because the word from the school (where the Market has been located temporarily) was that they didn’t want the Market remaining there when school started. Maggie had the good news that the school is willing to try hosting the Market in September on a provisional basis and to see if it interferes with sporting and other school events.

In an unexpected development, COWncil member Dave Burow (who voted against the considering allowing the Farmer’s Market to move to the Town Center) backtracked completely. He said that’s he received “more information and feedback” since the last meeting, and asked that the COWncil reconsider the matter. So, the ongoing saga of the Farmer’s Market will continue at the next meeting!

Next up were the remaining two interviewees, Richard Anderson and Steve Peterson, vying for the opening on the ASRB. Steve Patrick was interviewed at the May 28th meeting. Mr. Anderson’s civic activities (he was a 10-year member of the Bicycle Committee, a former Commissioner of the Planning Commission, and is currently the Vice President of the Citizens Emergency and Response Preparedness Program CERPP) for the Woodside Fire Protection District as well as his 20 years in Town, and his diligent attendance at recent ASRB meetings impressed the COWncil, and they voted 5-1-1 to appoint him to the Board.

The COWncil then approved the COWncil elections for this fall. COWncil members Deborah Gordon and David Tanner, and Mayor Kasten will be up for reelection

COWncil member Tom Shanahan pulled Item 1 from the Agenda to discuss the high fees – over $100,000 – that will be charged to a homeowner for the reports necessary to subdivide his land into three parcels, to comply with CEQA and historical standards. He asked, “Isn’t it a scandal [that the cost is so high]”? and claimed that the whole thing made him blush. He was informed that the Town doesn’t really have discretion if it wants to comply with CEQA, and noted that value would be created during the subdivision process. The COWncil did ask the Town staff to look closely at the process and make sure the homeowner wasn’t charged more than necessary, with Town Staff saying they’d already pushed back on the consultant and reduced costs.

The main item of the meeting was the proposed budget for 2013-1015. While nothing was approved, the COWncil gave the Town Manager their feedback on many issues affecting the Town. The Town Manager described how the Town has fewer full-time employees than in previous years with the addition of contract workers to help with the influx of building and permitting activity. Contract staff can be let go easily if demand drops, so the Town can respond to actual demand for services. Town employees will be contributing to their pensions for first time, 2% this year and rising over 4 years to 8%.

The Town COWncil also asked the Town Manager to investigate what it would take to move to a job costing system and bring it back to the COWncil. COWncil member Mason claimed that “the previous Town Manager “ – aka Susan George – had “stonewalled” the COWncil on this issue.

The possibility of a future bond measure to fix the Town’s bridges was floated, as well as other possible ways to pay for what are likely to be expensive fixes on the three “functionally obsolete” bridges in Town. The COWncil also discussed paying for the Town Center redesign and a new parking analysis, with the last one being completed in 1992; a geological map for the Town, and the long-delayed library renovation project. The COWncil also expressed concern over the rising costs of police services to the Town from the County Sheriff.

That concern segued into Communications, with COWncil member Peter Mason charging that the Tour de Cure event that recently passed through Town was a “complete disaster.” He said the organizers of the Tour need to be reprimanded big time – inexperienced people didn’t stop at stop signs, and were all over the road, since the Tour not having proper people on course pointing where to go. The COWncil was in broad agreement with Peter, suggesting that either fewer riders should be allowed next year or that the Tour should pay for traffic control. The Sheriff’s Office also came in for criticism, with Mason reporting to have seen three officers talking in front of Roberts’ for more than an hour instead of directing traffic to soothe the massive backups that were created by the event.

The meeting wrapped up just before 11 pm.

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