What are sure to be some of Napa’s hottest issues of 2013 will make their first public appearance of the year Friday.
The City Council and staff will meet at Napa Valley College all day for the city’s annual planning and priority-setting workshop. On the long list of matters to be discussed are the feasibility of a Browns Valley fire station, financing of Soscol Gateway improvements, labor cost containment, streets and sidewalks, capital improvement projects and more.
According to the agenda, the city’s economic situation is slowly recovering. Friday will be a chance for council members, two of them new and the others used to governing in a cut mode, to make a “‘strategic economic recovery’ planning effort,” City Manager Mike Parness wrote in a letter to the council.
“Most of the day will be dedicated to dealing with issues that have emerged from community, council and city staff discussions which require council consideration and direction,” Parness said.
“The theme or goal of this session is to recognize that our financial position is improving and it is important to apply the same strategic, thoughtful and sustainable approach to decision making under these changing conditions that we used successfully to address decision making during the years of economic decline.”
The meeting, which begins at 8:30 a.m. in the Napa Valley College Library Community Room, will start with a time for comment from the public. The workshop will end around 6 p.m.
The first agenda item relates to the city’s budget and the need for a long-term financial plan.
Fire Chief Mike Randolph is scheduled to give a presentation on how the city can better meet the public safety needs of Browns Valley. The area has long been in need of improved fire response service, which the city has not been able to fund thus far.
A planned station at 3001 Browns Valley Road was projected in 2008 to cost $6 million to build and equip, but the fire and public works departments have determined it could be done for $4.6 million if public works personnel are used during parts of project development.
In his report to the council, Randolph addressed the ongoing, operating costs of staffing a fifth fire station. While the department would typically hire nine firefighters at a new station, he said the city’s deployment model could be modified, meaning only five new firefighters would need to be hired and could be brought on over time. The annual ongoing costs to staff the station would be $835,000.
In addition to discussing the intricacies of budgeting another station, the council will also look at how to fund improvements in the downtown and in the Soscol Gateway areas in the absence of redevelopment money.
The Napa Community Redevelopment Agency had planned $38 million worth of improvements in the two areas, but lost its revenue when the state killed all redevelopment agencies last year.
Among the unfunded improvements are drainage, streets, medians and plazas.
The council will discuss labor and retirement cost containment. Nearly 77 percent of the city’s budget is spent on labor costs, which the city said it has been successful in recent years in containing to balance the city’s budget.
“Compared to most California cities, Napa is in a better position with respect to employee’s sharing in the cost of (retirement) pension,” the city said.
The council is also slated to discuss general issues, several of which were raised by candidates who unsuccessfully ran for a seat on the council last year. Among the agendized topics are possible council elections by districts, cooperative relations with the school district and creation of a neighborhood citizens committee. The council will also discuss a possible sports complex.
The meeting is scheduled to run from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. in the Napa Valley College Library Community Room. If there are still items to be discussed, the council will finish the meeting on Saturday in Council Chambers at City Hall.