City Council | South Pasadena to Consider Fee Increases and Approve Spending for Public Works Projects

Items on the agenda include the Minimum Wage increase and approval of spending for roads, sewer, water, landscaping and staffing

PHOTO: Steven Lawrence | News | City Council Chambers

South Pasadena City Council members tonight will hold a public hearing on a new master fee schedule. The change will increase annual revenue by an estimated $300,000.

The City’s departments of building, community services (that is, recreation), transportation, public works, police, planning, city clerk, library, fire and finance have a total over 400 fees. And while overall city fees were increased 10.6 percent in 2018, a recent study found they still pay for only 59 percent of the actual cost of the services. The new schedule would move that up to 84 percent, while also recommending that fees be tied to the consumer price index.

The public hearing will be followed by a 60-day comment period before fees take effect July 1.

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The City Council will also have another session on the prospect of adding development of an ordinance to accelerate the city’s implementation of the state’s schedule for minimum wage increases to the city’s strategic plan. City Manager Stephanie DeWolfe has warned the strategic plan needs to be finalized soon to fold smoothly into the July 1 target for adoption of new annual city budget.

PHOTO: Eric Fabbro | News | Strategic Planning meeting between councilmembers and city officials discussing the city’s core fiscal goals

On the consent agenda, they Council is slated to award a $1.09 million contract with a 10 percent contingency to Sequel Contractors Inc. for improvements along Bushnell Ave. between Oak St. and Huntington Dr. and along Diamond Ave. between Monterey Road and Lyndon St. Santa Fe Springs, CA-based Sequel was the lowest of six bidders for the project, which the engineer estimated a $1.54 million. The work will include repairing asphalt failures, and replacement of sidewalk, curb ramps and driveway approaches as well as new water meters, valves and fire hydrants. The work is expected to take 90 days.

The agenda also includes a resolution identifying six projects to be completed with state money under the 2017 Road Repair and Accountability Act. The city is spending $1.01 million on the projects and will get $431,000 from the state for work along Alpha Ave, Alta Vista Ave, Camino Del Sol, Pine St. and Monterey Road. Five of the six projects, costing $950,000, are in Councilman Robert Joe’s District on South Pasadena’s west side.

Also on the consent agenda is an amendment to the city’s Graves Reservoir replacement contract with Pacific Hydrotech Corp. covering asbestos removal costs. The asbestos was discovered after demolition began last year and its removal added 41 days to the overall project timeline. The amendment adds $194,282 to the existing $9.3 million contract.

The city also plans to award an $82,610 professional services contract to Plumbers Depot, Inc. to replace a self-propelled camera and related equipment used by sewer maintenance crews. The existing 20-year old system does not work well and has a negative impact on maintenance operations. Because the system resides on a van and not in a fixed public location, the replacement project is not considered a public work and therefore not subject to prevailing wages.

PHOTO: Eric Fabbro | News | Stephanie DeWolfe, the City Manager, gives her presentation on solving the budget gap

Also set for approval is a resolution declaring its intent to collect and allocate $1.17 million in property taxes to cover fiscal year lighting and landscaping maintenance costs. The costs are listed in an Engineer’s Report and will be the subject of a public hearing June 5. They include $639,000 in landscaping costs and $505,900 for street lighting and traffic signals. The costs are allocated under a complicated formula according to benefit, rather than the assessed value of the city’s 6,887 parcels. Nonetheless, about 85 percent of the benefits are classed as “city-wide.”

The Council is also set to approve a third $40,000 extension to its contract with Great Match Consulting, on which it has been relying to provide staffing on an as-needed basis. The amendments have been driven by the Public Works Department’s “aggressive” program of street, storm drain, sewer and sidewalk maintenance and, more recently, by on-going staff vacancies. Laborers hired under the contract will be paid $14/hour and cannot work an average of more than 19 hours per week or have previously earned CalPERS benefits.


Ben Tansey
Ben Tansey is a journalist and author. He grew up in the South Bay and is a graduate of Evergreen State College. He worked in Washington State as a reporter in a rural timber community and for many years as an editor for a Western electric energy policy publication based in Seattle.