Keeping in touch: Notes from the Mayor

Mayor Lucy VinisThis blog aims to nurture our conversation and understanding of the issues before us. Every week, I will provide a weekly update on the activities in the city government, my activities as mayor, and brief reflections on progress, opportunities and challenges. You are invited to respond with reactions, insights and questions. We do this work together.

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Dec 09

December 9, 2022

Posted on December 9, 2022 at 3:38 PM by Cherish Bradshaw

The major concern of the week has been the appointment process for an interim councilor for Ward 7, but the Budget and Intergovernmental Relations (IGR) committees also met.

Regarding Ward 7, I convened a special meeting of the council on Monday night in order for councilors to interview five applicants.   The councilors submitted their questions in advance, and each asked their own question.  I am grateful to the candidates for opening themselves to the daunting interview questioning by councilors in a public meeting.  The responses offered good insights into the candidates as well as offering some reflection of what a small sample of the public see and understand about the issues before us.  Council will vote on their choice at the 5:30 work session on Monday, the 12th.

On Wednesday, I joined Councilors Yeh, Evans and Groves in the Intergovernmental Relations Committee.  This small committee of councilors represents the whole council in understanding, directing and approving the focus of lobbying at the state legislature.  Their advice is grounded in a set of policies approved by the full council that establish perspectives in the range of issues – housing, climate, public safety and so on.   During the legislative session, the City staff, supported by IGR, pursue specific requests of the legislature.   Wednesday’s meeting was opportunity to review and approve those requests which include support for the City’s response to the unhoused; a request for funding the initial phase of investment in the Clear Lake area that is designated for industrial development as well as infrastructure to support housing development in the Crow Rd areas; support for upgrading police body and dashboard cameras; and investing in air filtration equipment to enable community centers to be safe sites in wildfire season, in particular.

I will add to this that I have been a member of the State’s Resilient Buildings Task Force to recommend actions to the 2023 legislature about how the state can meet its climate goals.  The Task Force will approve those recommendations on Tuesday, the 13th, and I expect to advocate for those during the legislative session.  They align with Council’s Climate goals and the IGR approved three of those recommendations be included in the City’s legislative priorities: 1) Promote, incentivize, and/or subsidize energy efficiency and heating/cooling efficiency increases; 2) Promote, incentivize, and/or subsidize heat pumps; and 3) Decarbonize institutional/public buildings.

And finally, on Wednesday the Budget Committee was briefed on the financial picture for the city in the coming fiscal year as well as reviewing the adjustments of the supplemental budget for the current year.  As the Manager noted, the supplemental process in December should be boring – these are adjustments to reflect conditions that have changed since the budget was approved in June.  The goal is to reserve any more interesting, programmatic changes for the full budget discussion in the spring.  The budget prospects are not good.  We are preparing for a $15 million hole in the coming year and City departments are already pruning their budgets.  As a community, we will likewise need to prune our expectations and maintain a keen focus on critical services and investments.  This should be facilitated by the transition to a two-year budget cycle which is based on “priority-based budgeting.”  Through an assessment process, departments have been auditing existing programs and expenditures with an eye toward outcomes and alignment with priorities.