Updated: Jul 13
All council members were present for the Tuesday, June 21 City Council meeting. Open session started at 5:00 p.m. and ended at 9:01 p.m. Here's what you missed:
City passes second consecutive structurally balanced budget. The council adopted the fiscal year 2022-2023 budget with Financial Director Tarik Rahmani summarizing the main points which were discussed during the previous three budget workshops. The city seemingly has taken on a more economically conscious stance towards its finances with this being the 2nd year in a row where all of City expenditures were matched by incoming revenues. Prior to that, the City was known for running deficits for almost a decade. This year the general fund totaled $104,872,743 in revenues and $103,933,129 in expenditures, making this the first year revenues actually exceeded expenditures entirely and no extra “one-time-sales” were used to cover the remaining costs as was the case last year. The $103,933,129 in expenditures is an increase from the total expenditure amount presented during the budget workshop on May 17th as it includes an increase in salaries and benefits to the City Council phase 1 re-organization initiative as well as an additional request of $133,519 from the Public Safety Division to fund for maintenance of City fire alarm and suppression systems. The proposed Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) for this year was also raised from $79 million to $81 million. The General Fund Reserve currently sits at $59.3 million.
Calling for the 2022 General Municipal Election successfully passes including ballot measure to eliminate sunset clause of City’s Utility User’s Tax. The 2022 General Municipal Election will be held on Tuesday, Nov. 8 and voters across the city will have an opportunity to choose the positions of City Clerk, City Treasurer, as well as decide whether to keep the City’s Utility User’s Tax (UUT). Districts 2 and 4 will elect a council member to represent their respective districts for a full four-year term. Currently, District 2 is not represented by any specific councilmember as Councilman Jim Dear’s current term is at-large and District 4 Councilwoman Arleen Rojas was elected last year to fill in for the remaining term left by Lula Davis-Holmes who was elected Mayor in 2020.
During the meeting, the council unanimously passed a series of resolutions which would add a local ballot measure to the election, allowing voters to decide whether to keep the City’s Utility User’s Tax, also known as Measure C. Specifically, the ballot measure would ask voters to eliminate the UUT’s sunset clause entirely, which is set to have the tax expire on July 1, 2023. Carson voters approved Measure C in 2009, imposing a 2% UUT on natural gas and electric usage and extended the expiring sunset clause back in 2016. In a press release, Mayor Lula Davis-Holmes says that “the City has come to depend on our UUT revenue” and during the meeting Mayor Pro Tem. Jawane Hilton claimed that the City “needs” the UUT both pointing to how the funds go towards essential services (911 response, emergency preparedness, clean drinking water, etc.). According to the budget workshop which was held earlier in the meeting, for fiscal year 2022 -2023, the City’s UUT provided $8,500,000, just above 8% of the City’s $104,872,744 general fund revenue. On top of submitting the ballot measure to the voters, the set of resolutions also establishes the drafting of an impartial analysis and authorizes rebuttal arguments for the UUT.
Firework Fines Raised to a maximum $5,0000.
With Independence Day right around the corner, the City is attempting to curtail the use of illegal non safe and sane fireworks by increasing fines. The council unanimously approved a resolution increasing fines from $1,000 to a $2,000 ticket for the first violation, then $3,000 for a second violation, and finally a $5,000 penalty for any subsequent violations within 12 months of the first offense. Mayor Pro Tem. Jawane Hilton amended the resolution to give homeowners some leeway from mischievous guests, “One of my disagreements with the resolution was that the homeowner would be ‘indefinitely responsible’. I would like that to be changed to ‘may be responsible’. My argument for that, for the residents, is that sometimes we invite people over a house [and while] we’re in the back and we don't know what they're actually shooting off out there.” Hilton gave an example for a case-by-case basis citing, “some 75-year-old grandmother who may be in the house and her grandkids may be outside, and I wouldn't want to pass that burden on to her of $1,000 or $2,000 ticket.”
Resolution to forgive loans given to borrowers of the City’s 2020 Small Business Loan Program passes. All loans which were given to applicants of the City’s Small Business Loan Program in 2020 are now forgiven due to the passing of the COVID-19 Business Loan Relief Program. The city will also reimburse those who have made loan payments no matter if the entirety loan was not paid or not. The council established the City’s Small Business Loan Program in April 2020 and according to the staff report the program issued 35 loans totaling $530,000 to date. However, only $66,999.55 has been paid back. According to the budget workshop held later in the meeting, the council previously allocated $765,000 from the $17.8 million American Rescue Plan Act fund to forgive the loans. Borrowers will receive a letter notifying them that their loan was forgiven by the City, to provide instructions on how to apply for the loan forgiveness/reimbursement and to remind borrowers that under federal law will be issued an IRS Form 1098 by the City for the amount of the forgiveness, which may be taxable depending on their circumstances.
In addition, a resolution was passed establishing the ARPA funded Small Business Grant Program, which the council established the program’s priorities during the May 17 City Council meeting.
Council establishes Commercial Façade Improvement Program with $1 million ARPA allocation. The City is looking to help Commercial Property Owners and business tenants spruce up their building exterior by offering grants through a citywide commercial façade improvement program. With the goal to revitalize the look of major intersections across the city, the council passed a resolution establishing the program with a budget of $1 million. Commercial buildings on Avalon Boulevard, Main Street, Sepulveda Boulevard, Carson Street, Figueroa Street, and other major intersections can apply for grants of various amounts depending on whether the applicant chooses to match City funds towards the project. If the City’s grant pays for the entirety of the project, the maximum amount given shall be $2,500, however if the applicant contributes $22,500 the grant increases to a $25,000 cap. Multi-tenant centers can apply for a larger grant up to $250,000 but only with if the applicant pays no less than $500,000 to a revitalization project. Applications can be acquired by contacting the City of Carson’s Community Development Department.
New Lights and Roof Repairs coming to Calas Park. Councilmember Cedric Hicks pulled two items from the consent calendar to show the public that Calas Park would be getting new lights for its field and improvements to the main building’s roof. “Just wanted to make sure the residents and the neighbors who live near Calas Park know that we're getting them put in some new lighting for our ball field, which is well overdue,” explained Hicks, “our adult sports program, youth sports program, and activities will now have better visual abilities to be playing a nice and safer game at Calas Park.” According to the staff report, upgrades include, the removal of metal halide bulbs and old mounting equipment and the installation of new LED fixtures on the field light poles among other improvements. Public Works Director Eliza Whitman presented where in Calas park roofing repairs would happen, “There's going to be a complete redo of the main building as well as the snack bar to bring it up to adequate situation for the residents and everybody who uses the park proper.”
Samoan Heritage Day Celebration: Saturday, June 25, 9 a.m. - 4 p.m. @ Foisia Park.
Dump Day: Saturday, July 9, 8 a.m. - 1 p.m. @ City Hall Parking Lot City staff will be on site to accepts household waste and approved debris at no charge
Heroes' Day: Saturday, July 23, 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. @ Carson Events Center